Dubai's alternative nightlife scene unravelled

From drum 'n' bass to indie sounds, a closer look at the city's best underground club nights

Many of the city’s top underground club nights go head-to-head this weekend. Rob Garratt eyes up the big hitters.

Has Dubai’s alternative nightlife scene ever been stronger? On the basis of this week at least, not a wink, with many of the city’s best underground club nights going all out to vie for your attention.

After a short hiatus Time Out’s Best Alternative Night of 2013 relaunches in a new home, and on a Friday, with DJ Vadim spinning at The Q Underground on April 11 at the Deep Crates Cartel relaunch party. Just down the road, on the same night, rivals Dust team up with Quarter Tone Frequency to host a new Turntables on the Gulf concept, with a trio of internationals Nickodemus, DRM and Bam taking to the decks at Dusk Terrace.

A night earlier is a bassheads’ paradise, with none other than The Executioner himself Andy C returning to spin for GlobalFunk at The Music Room, while also on Thursday April 10 rival drum and bass fiends Something Big join up with Croatia’s Outlook Festival to host a Super Yacht Party headlined by Icicle and Ant TC1 onboard a 125ft vessel. Spoilt for choice?

It seems pretty clear to us there’s rarely been a better time to be an alternatively minded clubber in Dubai, so to celebrate this flurry of late night activity, we bring you up to speed with all the main players on the scene, and what they’ve got planned in the coming weeks.

Analog Room

While its tagline ‘the one and only truly alternative night in Dubai’ might be a tad self-prophesying, there’s no denying the seismic impact Analog Room has had on the city’s underground scene since its launch in early 2013 at the then-unused Q Underground venue. Keeping up regular Thursday nights ever since, and programming an intelligent stream of leftfield international guests, Analog Room specialises in smart, electronic music, which might not fill floors at commercially minded superclubs, but attracts legions of the faithful week in, week out. The guys have also recently gone out into the light with sets at Story Rooftop Lounge.
Dhs75 (ladies free before midnight). Thursdays 10pm-3am, The Q Underground, Holiday Inn Al Barsha, www.analogroom.com.

Bad House Party

One of the younger players on the alternative scene, Bad House Party offers up a much-needed guitar night, filling the void that has been left ever since Loaded imploded and Step On went fancy by shifting to Media One. Not that it’s half as chirpy-cheeky-chappy as those indie havens ever were – Bad House Party keeps things wilfully leftfield, and all the more charming for it. Expect to hear a mix of punk stormers, indie tunes which didn’t chart and other eclectic diversions when the party starts at Casa Latina on the first Thursday of every month.
Free entry (or Dhs60 with two drinks). Thursday May 1, 10pm-3am. Casa Latina, Ibis Hotel, Al Barsha, www.facebook.com/thebadhouseparty.

Deep Crates Cartel

It was with a sniffle and a whimper that we heard the news that Deep Crates were folding their regular Casa Latina Thursday evening at the close of 2013. Well, now they’re back – with a new regular Friday night at Q Underground, which launches with a visit from eclectic beatmaster DJ Vadim who threatens to bring a mix of hip-hop, soul, reggae and more. The weekly happening will alternate with the Cartel’s reggae wing Drop Dread, with an international guest at one or the other every month or so. Welcome back, guys.
Dhs125 (Dhs75 to pre-registered guests). Friday April 11, 9pm-3am. The Q Underground, Holiday Inn Al Barsha, www.deepcratescartel.com.

Dust

Despite a quiet winter, Dust – those purveyors of woozy clubs nights, danceable disco and interesting electronic sounds – are back, and seemingly Bruce Willis-style with a vengeance. Fresh from hosting NYC edit king John Morales last month, the DJ collective is now launching a new Turntables of the Gulf concept, in conjunction with affiliate podcast brand RBMA Radio Quarter Tone Frequency. Expect ten hours of top tunes led by New Yorkers Nickodemus, DRM and former Jungle Brother Bam, plus a roster of local mic men including Hamdan Al-Abri and rappers Jibberish and Toofless.
Dhs80 (RSVP essential, info@dustdxb.com). Friday April 11, 2pm-midnight. Dusk Terrace. Radisson Blu Dubai Media City, www.facebook.com/dustdxb.

GlobalFunk

After celebrating a decade in Dubai last year, GlobalFunk is the big daddy of the city’s bass scene – and has a CV to go with it. Having hosted the likes of Roni Size, Goldie, LTJ Bukem, DJ Marky, DJ Hype and more big bass hitters than we can list over the years, the semi-regular drum and bass happening is keeping things ticking over nicely with its third booking of the legendary Andy C since the beginning of 2013, appearing again with venerable right-hand man MC LowQui.
Dhs100. Thursday April 10, 9pm-3am. The Music Room, Majestic Hotel Towers, www.facebook.com/GlobalFunkDXB.

Something Big

Since launching back in October 2012, Something Big has consistently brought an engaging roster of international bass names to Barsha’s Catwalk. This week it celebrates a landmark, going out into the open air and teaming up with Croatia’s renowned bass haven Outlook Festival for a Super Yacht Party with headliners Icicle (of Shogun Audio) and Ant TC 1 (of Dispatch Recordings).
Dhs295 (including beverages and pizza). Thursday April 10, 9.30pm-2.30am. Jasim Super Yacht, Marina Mall Harbour, Pier 7, www.facebook.com/somethingbigdubai.

Electric Days

We’ve heard grumbles that the music policy isn’t all that alternative – think credible and clever house and electro flavours – and that the guest list-only door policy is far from the come-all-serve-all mentality you associate with underground nightlife. But Electric Days is all alternative, attracting a wilfully cliquey clientele and boasting a welcome non-mainstream ethos. True, it’s not a place for grubby jeans, but taking place every Friday this recent winner of our Best Alternative Night of 2014 is the thinking rooftop party of the moment. The weekly night continues in coming weeks with confirmed bookings of German duo Smash TV on April 18 and US producer Tone of Arc on April 25.
Dhs100, Dhs70 before 8pm with two free drinks (email doorlist@electricdays.net). Friday, 6pm-late. Tamanya Terrace, Radisson Blu, Dubai Media City, www.facebook.com/ElectricDays.


And there’s more....

Boombox
After a lengthy tenure at The Music Room that saw Boombox host huge names from hip-hop’s notable pantheon – we’re talking De La Soul’s Maseo, N.W.A.’s DJ Yella, Public Enemy’s DJ Lord and Wu-Tang ‘associate’ DJ Sueside – local MC Eslam Jawaad’s alternatively minded hip-hop night recently moved on to Casa Latina. Keep an eye on www.ohmevents.com for what’s up next.

Step On
Dubai’s longest running indie night has been spitting out guitar anthems at stacks of venues across town over the years, and is currently keeping things classy with regular happenings at The Dek on 8. Keep an eye on www.facebook.com/groups/StepOnDubai for upcoming events.

Sunny Vibe-Up
With a focus on reggae, hip-hop, soul, and any music with a groove, Deep Crates’ monthly-ish rooftop party is going from strength to strength. Despite moving their signature night to a Friday (see above), we’re told Sunny will continue to run monthly in the cooler months, acting as a daytime pool party and offering a free shuttle bus to the new happening at The Q Underground later on. Check out www.facebook.com/sunny.vibeup.

Younique
Known for hosting some epic parties in Media One’s P7 car park, things have been quiet on the Younique front of late, with spin-off brands The Break In and now History of House taking centre stage. However those oh-so-refreshingly-un-Dubai car park parties have gone down in folklore, so we won’t rule out the brand making a comeback soon. Keep up to speed at www.facebook.com/YouniqueDubai.

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