As the Afro house scene enjoys a boom time, Caroline Fernandez unearths the best purveyors around town.
African music is a fusion of genres, styles and sub genres – which makes sense, considering Africa is a massive continent with more than a billion people, not to mention the diaspora communities.
With several parties around town laying claim to African music, from House of Afrika at Media One and the new weekly Azonto Nights party at the Sofitel Palm Jumeirah, along with a couple of others, we set out to get an idea of what exactly the difference is between all these parties and more importantly, their music.
House of Afrika
House of Afrika, the weekly Friday night party at Dek on 8, is more than just a catchy name. It is, as the name suggests, a party with house music incorporating Afrobeat-heavy elements and Afro soul with warm electronica.
The past few years have seen South Africa become a breeding ground for electronic music, though this style has spread beyond the continent. Event manager Monique Belle who hails from the UK, says people everywhere are listening to African house. ‘Being in Dubai, I think it’s fair to say that house rules here. You expect to hear a lot of house everywhere.’
Previous House of Afrika parties featured the likes of award-winning South African DJ Black Coffee for New Year’s Eve. ‘A couple of the artists who have really excited us lately are Mi Casa, a really great band out of Johannesburg that fuse Latin with jazz and live trumpets and saxophones, with house,’ says Belle. She recommends listening to DJ Ralf Gum, from Amsterdam and local South African DJ Nthayi, who’s performed in Europe, Asia and South Africa, to get an idea of how far South African house goes.
Free. Fridays 4pm-3am. Dek on 8 at Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City, email@example.com.
Down on the Palm things are a little faster-paced at the Sofitel’s 2Liv nightclub. Afro Beats DXB has just started throwing Azonto Nights on Wednesdays, a party that gets the dancefloor started with Afro pop and Afro hip-hop. The launch had a live performance from members of L.O.S, a Dubai-based Nigerian Afro hip-hop group. Nigerian organiser Mohammed Kowasha says that Afro hip-hop and Afro pop is what their visitors love.
‘That’s what everybody can easily recognise and probably move their bodies to now,’ says Kowasha. With guest visits from international DJs planned, as well as live performances, Kowasha says you can expect to hear the DJ play tracks from Mafikizolo, a catchy South African band with penetrating tribal elements, as well as Davido, with his chilled out island beat, and Fuse ODG, a British-Ghanaian musician who’s collaborated with Wyclef and Sean Paul. ‘The whole idea is to celebrate African music. Lately we’ve been hearing so much African music on the radio, so we created a platform where people can come and listen to it properly.’
Free. Wednesdays 10pm-3am. 2LIV at Sofitel Spa & Resort, Palm Jumeirah (056 986 7182/055 534 3594).
There are still other parties around town that go all night with Afro beats. The Garage, in Deira, has a lively dancefloor that’s hard to compete with but promises a workout. Though placed in a less mainstream area, you’ll definitely learn new Afro dance moves from others, although you might be overwhelmed by the skills on display on the dancefloor.
Free. Daily 7pm-3am. The Garage, Ramee International Hotel, Deira (04 224 0222).
The Irie Fridays party at Sublime Lounge in the Ibis World Trade Centre incorporates African reggae into its nights with Kenyan DJ Kriss Darlin’. With roots in West Africa, it’s heavily influenced by Jamaican reggae but in the ‘local vernacular’, as organiser Ras Dru puts it. From reggae to Afrobeat and Afro house, investigating the African music scene is a far more ambitious expedition than planned – the sub genres just don’t stop coming.
Free. Fridays 9pm-3am. Sublime Lounge, Ibis Hotel World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 332 4444).
South African Freedom Day
Celebrate the 20th South African Freedom Day on Friday April 25 at Emirates Golf Club, as the South African Business Council organises fun activities and parties all night. Watch out for hip-hop DJ Ready D, Kwaito artist Mandoza and Cape Town’s Crazy White Boy among others.
Dhs150. 1pm-11pm. www.facebook.com/infusionmagazine.