Rock and roll in Dubai

Superficial Dubai? Uncultural Dubai? The Submarine club introduces rock fans to cultural clubbing at one of the emirate's hottest nights.

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Superficial Dubai. Uncultured Dubai. The popular conception is that this is a city that puts looks over books and bling over brains. But as with any big place, there are hundreds of deep thinkers and creative souls here looking for another way. And design-studio-cum-event-organiser The Blacksheep thinks it has just the thing for them: its Strong South nights at Submarine.

Crom Ojeda, Strong South organiser, explains the concept: ‘The plan for The Strong South is to bring Dubai’s creative class together. A lot of people aren’t writing music or forming bands because there’s nowhere to play and no-one to play with. The saddest thing in the world is a waste of talent, so we want to fix that.’

Using Field Of Dreams logic – ‘If you play to them, they will come’ – The Blacksheep brought together not only Crom’s own band, Sandwash (he’s the bassist), but also six other groups, to play everything from metal to reggae-rock. It’s an eclectic mix that Crom hopes will inspire some serious creativity, and not just from musicians. The plan is for Strong South to become a platform for everyone in the creative community. ‘We want to get all the city’s designers, writers, photographers, film directors and anyone with an interest in creating something, and bring them all together,’ he says. ‘We want it to be like [legendary New York club] CBGBs, a place where people can hang out and exchange ideas.’ Eventually, Crom hopes that those ideas will feed back into the entertainment: ‘I want the artists and bands to collaborate, so the artists can do some graffiti while the band is playing, and base their designs on the sound of the music.’

Once the event gets rolling, Crom hopes to get other local bands on board. ‘Anyone can join us,’ he says. ‘They can send us a link to their website or they can come to the show and hand over a demo CD. As long as it’s music and it sounds good, I couldn’t care less what genre it is. We’ll take anything from Abba to Zappa, man.’

Avid party animals might have noticed that the combination of music and art makes The Strong South sound rather similar to Just Kidd In, The Apartment’s new art-meets-clubbing night. Crom isn’t worried by the comparisons, though. ‘I think it’s cool that these nights are coming out and targeting the creative classes, but you can’t really compare them to our event. Just Kidd In plays house music, they have DJs, and you’re there to party. Our event is about coming together and networking as well as having fun. It’ll have a different atmosphere.’

Should The Strong South prove successful, it will return after its August 23, pre-Ramadan blow out with a weekly event – and some big changes. ‘We’re going to do more art and try some concept nights, like an indie/electro night, a metal night and so on. We’re also planning a big event, an afternoon-to-evening festival, for November. Once Ramadan’s passed, it’s going to be a stronger, louder, darker night. I can’t wait to see what happens.’

Coming on Strong

Want to know who’ll be playing at The Strong South? Lucky you – here’s Crom to tell us more.

Brown Fusion ‘These guys are quite tight and all the members are from different genres: the drummer is from a reggae band, and some of the others are into grunge. So it’s alt rock ’n’ roll with a funky side.’

Concast ‘Concast is composed of members from Sandwash, Dangwa and other bands. They’ll be playing original hardcore metal, including a song called ‘The Strong South, which is dedicated to the night.’

Dangwa ‘They are a thrash metal band, and do covers from Sepultura as well as their own compositions. The material is mostly fast, loud metal.’

Kasis ‘Kasis are a new band. They’ll be doing some covers from Inkubus Sukkubus, but they’ll mostly be doing originals.’

Presto ‘They will be playing everything from Foo Fighters-style tunes to Pinoy rock ’n’ roll.’

Saltshaker ‘Saltshaker’s new vocalist who’s changing the sound of their old compositions from alt rock to funky, fast reggae.’

Sandwash ‘This is my band. We play our own sound, called ‘groovecore’, and we’ve been in Dubai since 1998. We’ve got wide influences – everything from The Beatles to Nine Inch Nails to heavy metal.’

The Strong South is at Submarine on August 23. See www.blacksheepproject.multiply.com.

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