When it opened, Alpha’s combination of small size, high ceiling and faux-Greek décor – all holdovers from its first life as a restaurant – made it a rather unlikely contender for top dog of Dubai’s nightlife. But the snazzy day-glo furniture, swirly lights and, most importantly, the thumping Funktion-One soundsystem transformed it into one of the coolest venues around. Yet Alpha’s real trump isn’t the venue – it’s the fact that the promoters had the brass balls to turn their noses up at Dubai convention and make it a true successor to the much-loved, dearly-missed eclectic venue iBO. Hosting everything from funk nights to acclaimed live indie bands, the boys and girls at Alpha have turned it from an underdog to the leader of the pack. And with soul/Motown nights, more international acts and plenty more unique events still to come, it should remain there for the rest of 2009, at least.
Many may argue that Oud Metha’s behemoth club deserved our top title. And perhaps if we were judging on its admittedly jaw-dropping venue alone, it would have received it. Once a dilapidated meat-market of a club, The Lodge was overhauled in early 2007, transmogrifying itself into a plush and incredibly spacious five-roomed venue. Between the gargantuan Ibiza-esque garden area, all-white hip hop room and drape-tastic VIP area, most can find their musical, and decor, preference. However, with its overly strict door security and rather conservative house/urban/indie music policy – and when it comes down to it, it’s the music that matters – it doesn’t quite carry the mantle of leader of Dubai’s clubbing cutting edge. But then, if their talk of future visits from artists such as Erykah Badu and Dizzee Rascal come off, who knows how things could pan out in 2009.
Jumeirah Beach Hotel’s lavish two-roomed club opened to much fanfare at the end of 2005, quickly become the spot to congregate. Three years on, and it’s still holding its own in the city’s club circuit, particularly with its consistently packed Friday night hip hop and R&B nights, which have hosted many an international homie. Thursday nights, meanwhile, are often set aside for forward-thinking house and electro. As a fairly standard club designwise, The Apartment’s popularity will no doubt continue to rest on the strength of its acts – as well as, naturally, its champagne deals.
JamBase is not so much a jazz bar, but a restaurant and club with an in-house band that plays popular Motown and soul classics. Long may the myth of it being some smoky, spontaneous haven for creative types and men in pork pie hats rest. However, positioned as it is within the tourist-friendly confines of Souk Madinat Jumeirah, it should still be applauded for its bravery for stepping away from Dubai’s house and R&B mainstream. Music aside, the décor is satisfyingly dark and moody, the bars are well-stocked and the crowd is always huge and up for a (rather sweaty) dance.
The Music Room
The Music Room is on our list for one reason and one reason only: The Rock Spiders. The venue’s constantly energetic and lovable Filipino rock band provide a rare opportunity to headband and wear head-to-toe black in our typically rather ostentatious city. There are also pool tables and drinks deals to lure you in – but you really need to be in the mood for a complete dungeon-like lack of windows and renditions of ‘Ace of Spades’ at deafening volume to venture here. And, as it happens, we find that we often are.
Just Missed Out:
It’s open! It’s closed! It’s open again! With its unsure future now settled, we’re glad that Mix still rocking on – it has, we think, one of Dubai’s best interiors.
It’s all in the name. A basement club in Bur Dubai with a rock covers band and years of loyal expat attendance behind it, this is where you go when all other options are unavailable. We salute the place for its dependability (though not for its racial profiling door policy).
The ideal location for Dubai’s underground music scene – literally underground, in a carpark - Submarine has swung between hip, happening and heaving to tumble weed towers and back again within its first year. But we’re not prepared to give up on such a distinctive venue just yet.