Sunstroke in Dubai

No, not that kind - the notorious boat parties come ashore

Interview
Interview
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Party people in the know have been dining out on stories of water-based revelry at Sunstroke’s infamous beach parties for nigh on a year. Launched in May 2011 as a fashionable catamaran party, subsequent 90-capacity events sold out in just two days. After five epic boat parties the team chose to bring the brand to shore, hosting an exclusive soft launch at the end of March with a set from none other than Haçienda legend Graeme Park, who later tweeted: ‘Sunstroke at Infinity Dubai was fab!’.

Returning to the Infinity Bar and Terrace at the Radisson Blu Downtown on Thursday May 3, this time the Sunstroke team is flying in UK DJ Andy Ward to host his Vocal Booth Weekender. A brand he founded more than a decade ago, last year’s event in Spain’s Costa Blanca attracted more than 500 people.

Ward, 42, has been a player on the UK music scene for more than 20 years, spinning at many of the country’s top clubs as well as hosting the weekly Friday night slot at Birmingham radio station Galaxy 102.2, and enjoying success as one half of production duo Soul Central. To celebrate bringing the brand to Dubai, Ward has created a fresh hour-long podcast to whet your appetite. We caught up with Ward to get the lowdown.

His sound is…
‘Sweet, soulful, vocal, uplifting and deep. I like to take my DJ sets through most of those genres. In the early days people such as Junior Vasquez and Danny Tenaglia were huge inspirations for me, which is hard
to believe now due to the direction they then went. Other names that spring to mind are Kerri Chandler, MAW, Grant Nelson, Jeremy Sylvester, Sasha, Carl Cox, Micky Finn… I could give you an endless list of people who inspired me through the years.’

How he got into DJing…
‘By chance, a friend had turntables and I had a go – I found I could do it straight off. I was hooked. I took out a bank loan and bought a full setup and some vinyl from a different friend who had already got bored of being a DJ. It started purely as a hobby – I only went full-time as a DJ when a job I was working on ended and I realised I didn’t actually need to work – my DJing was paying me so well.’

The first record he bought…
‘I couldn’t honestly answer that for sure, but among my earliest memories are George Benson, Motown compilations for my dad’s birthday or a Diana Ross album for my nan. My own records would probably be Yellow Magic Orchestra or The Jacksons. I have absolutely no idea of the last piece of vinyl I bought, but the last piece of music I bought was a new Robert Owens tune.’

His worst near-death experience...
‘When I was about 10 I swallowed a coin and almost choked to death – it lodged in my windpipe. I was rushed to hospital and had an operation to have it removed. I was devastated as later that day I was due to play in the cup final for my football team.’

His worst night behind the decks…
‘Timmy (Vegas) and I played as Soul Central in Dublin. We got a little carried away before the gig and were pretty incoherent when we got there. The crowd wanted to hear music we really didn’t have or want to play and it was very uncomfortable all night. We even had complaints from the management of the club about our behaviour. That was the beginning of the end for me wanting to play to big rooms.’

If he had a time machine…
‘Just for a night? I’d probably go back to a massive rave, none in particular, but being with all my friends dancing without a care in the world. Or I’d go back to last weekend when I had a wicked kebab.’

Sunstroke’s free Vocal Booth with Andy Ward is on Thursday May 3 from 4pm at Infinity Terrace, Radisson Blu Hotel, Downtown Dubai (04 450 2000)

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