Hed Kandi in Dubai

Midweek air crew night comes to Chi. What could be better? But it's not just for the hosties among you. <em>Time Out</em> finds out more.

DJ feature

He’s an influential man, is Mark Doyle. You’ll know him, of course, as the founder and ex-director of Hed Kandi, the multi-million-dollar dance brand that legitimised clubbing for adults, and who is currently head honcho of Fierce Angel, the two-year-old record label that not only releases some of dance music’s best compilation CDs, but also hosts parties in places as far apart as Canada, Japan and the Philippines. Not just influential, then, but busy too.

Thankfully, the man’s somehow found time in his schedule to headline the first ever night of Mile High Club, the brand new aeronautically-themed night at Chi @ The Lodge. Not that he’s complaining: ‘I love it in Dubai,’ he says with gusto. ‘I played at The Apartment a couple of times and I bumped into dozens of UK DJs that I’d met over the years – I saw a couple that had moved over from Brighton, a couple that had moved over from Bristol and one that had moved from Nottingham. I’d seen them at different clubs at different times over the years and now they were in the same club at the same time! It’s a home away from home.’ Don’t expect to see him moving into a villa in Jumeirah any time soon, however, not unless you want to see Fierce Angel falling down to Earth. ‘The only good thing about having a lot of awful weather in England is that it keeps you in the office and doing your work rather than going out to play all the time,’ he laughs. ‘If I moved out here I’d never get anything done.’

His work is pretty much what has defined Mark Doyle in the eyes of clubbers everywhere, most famously his role in the creation of Hed Kandi, which sprang out of UK radio station Jazz FM. ‘I was running Jazz FM’s record label,’ he says, ‘and I came up with this idea for a dance label for grown-ups, because we’d all grown up in dance culture and there didn’t seem to be a brand out there for us. I put the whole thing together and for the first three years it was me and one other person in the office, but it gradually became bigger and bigger until we had about eight staff, events all over the world and 15 CDs in our discography. Then the station got taken over by a bigger company so it became more about growing and profit margins and it just became less fun than it used to be. I went to the management and said, “is there a chance of me getting more than just a weekly wage?” They weren’t that happy with the idea, so I decided to move on.’

What he moved on to was his own record label, Fierce Angel, a ‘smaller, friendlier enterprise’, according to Mark, where he has spent the past two years releasing a wide range of tasty house to a hungry global audience. So given the diversity of the Fierce Angel catalogue, what can we expect from the first Mile High Club night? Mark is keeping his options open: ‘If you arrive with preconceptions about the crowd, you might not deliver what they actually want,’ he says, ‘so what I play is a great mix of vocal house that, depending on the time of night and the mood of the room, can go darker. One of my favourite tracks at the moment is a version of ‘Here’s Where The Story Ends’ from a group that I’ve just signed called The Bass Monkeys – it’s a funky electro sound. But it’s a case of waiting to see what the crowd wants.’

This won’t be his only chance to impress the Mile High Club’s crowds: if it all goes well, he plans to keep coming back on a bi-monthly basis, with other Fierce Angel DJs filling in the gaps in-between. And though that means enduring 14-hour return trips, he’s not worried about it getting dull any time soon: ‘I love what I do and, yeah, if it’s every week it becomes a slog, but every couple of months keeps it fresh. And it is such a great job; I’ve been doing this for about 20 years and it hasn’t gotten boring yet, so I don’t think every other month in Dubai will tire me out.’

Can he foresee a time when he packs it in for good? ‘Well, I’ve spoken to a number of other DJs and we think there’s a gap in the market for a retirement home for ex-DJs, and ex-ravers with a little club every afternoon and all the nurses looking after you while you dance. It could even be in Dubai because the weather’s so good,’ he laughs. But no, I’ll be doing gigging as long as I can get my zimmer frame up the steps to the DJ booth.’

Mark Doyle launches the Mile High Club on Sunday 13 April at Chi. Entry Dhs50 for men, ladies free until 12midnight, then Dhs50; FACE card holders free all night.

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