Party people living in Dubai in the early noughties will remember Bong’s legendary club nights – among them Poizon, ELV8, Fresh Nights and Wicked. After a sudden disappearance from the public scene, the extraverted 36-year-old Filipino promoter is back, hosting a NYE party that marks his first public event in seven years. We found out more.
His real name sounds like a Mexican heartthrob – Wilfredo Garcia Delfiero Guerrero.
‘When I was a kid my parents called me Bong-Bong, I didn’t respond to Wilfredo at all. It’s probably one of my greatest assets and I thank my parents for it. From day one at school it gave me an advantage.’
He’s a Dubai veteran of more than two decades, emigrating to the UAE in 1990.
‘I came out of college in California and I had some very good friends from Dubai who invited me. I had no expectations: I just wanted to use those years to explore. Coming from San Francisco this was a village, but there was something really nice and interesting about it.’
He ran a Dubai fashion house from 1990 until 1998.
‘We were the largest fashion house in the Middle East. It started by accident, like everything in my life, but it was significant to me. Yet as much as I enjoyed it, it really wasn’t my kind of thing. In those days everything was very new in Dubai.’
In 2000 he moved into nightlife, where he is said to have pioneered a long list of Dubai firsts.
‘I was the first one to adopt a guest list only policy. We were the first ones to throw a Friday night party when Saturday was still the first day of the working week. People said we were crazy to do that, and I said, “Those who can will come”. I was the first person to send SMS blasts. I was the first to have a database of Dubai’s big spenders and party beautiful, and I’m pretty sure it’s been stolen.’
In 2005 he threw in the towel on nightlife, instead moving into the corporate world, where he hosts events for likes of Puma, Tiffany & Co, Fendi, Google and Mercedes.
‘I was very nocturnal for five years, sleeping during the day and going out five nights a week. On a personal level I just wanted to change a few things, so I gave up smoking and took up yoga.’
But now Bong is preparing a comeback with his Lucky 13 NYE party at Giannino, and plans for a new quarterly night called Fiktion in 2013.
‘Over the years a lot of our friends have asked, “When will you start throwing parties again?” It was always at the back of my mind. I feel there’s a gap right now. Dubai’s nightlife has evolved quite quickly, but we all still feel as though there’s something missing. I’ve hung onto the Bong name – and I’ve decided 2013 is the time I’m going to let it back out.’
Interview: Rob Garratt. Bong Presents Lucky 13 on Monday December 31, 10pm-3am. Tickets Dhs850, with VIP options available. Giannino, Meydan Beach Club (050 102 4615).