The last time we hit the dancefloor to the likes of Craig David and Artful Dodger’s Re-Rewind, it was the mid-noughties in a club in Ayia Napa, Cyprus. The glory days of UK garage. It’s safe to say we were a whole lot younger and more energetic back then, and found ourselves chanting “Ayia Napa, Ayia Napa” in our best MC voice at every opportunity. But when UK music brand Kisstory announced that they were headed for Dubai for the second time this year, having previously set up at Level 41 in Media One Hotel back in June, we didn’t let our age hold us back. In fact, a trip down memory lane seemed like just the ticket (one that cost Dhs150 in advance or Dhs200 on the door).
With a promising line-up on the bill (well, one bloke from each group), which included three US acts – Jagged Edge, Blackstreet and Next – plus UK favourites DJ Luck & MC Neat and Dubai regulars Artful Dodger alongside local DJs Under the Moon and Masterstepz, the entry price was pretty good value for money.
Having launched at an indoor venue, Nasimi Beach’s outdoor location for Kisstory would have been a good move, had it not been for the 39°C heat and 57 percent humidity (we googled it), which left the majority of females in the crowd looking like Diana Ross with mighty hairdos an hour in and blokes with ringing wet T-shirts (it really was starting to feel like Ayia Napa).
Heat issues aside, Nasimi Beach proved to be a decent venue for Kisstory, with its capacity to host 3,000 people. However, with a bigger space, comes longer queues. Entry to the venue really depended on what time you showed up. Arriving at 10pm just before the headline acts were due to perform, we were faced with a wait of around 20 minutes to get in – which was actually relatively short compared to some patrons, who queued for 40 minutes or more. Once inside, the lines continued – at the bar, at the toilets. At various times, it seemed like there were only two to three bar staff on hand, meaning trying to get served was difficult and you had to lay down the law and mark your territory (in our case it involved getting two friends to guard our side while we attempted to order drinks). But like with any big event, crowds are to be expected, and if you’ve been to any in the city, you know the drill.
With stunning views of the Dubai skyline and Atlantis The Palm, it was a picture-perfect setting to let your hair down and dance along to classics such as Too Close by RL from American R&B group Next, and sway to the mellow sounds of Jagged Edge. However, much to the crowd’s disappointment, Eric from Blackstreet didn’t perform due to illness. In an attempt to please the crowd, Wingo from Jagged Edge played a rather short sample of the group’s hit track, No Diggity. Artful Dodger took over after midnight and had the crowd on their feet, including Star Trek actor and DJ Idris Elba who dropped by with a group of pals from London. While the music and MCs had the place jumping throughout the night, the atmosphere dipped occasionally and felt a little flat at times. The layout and set-up of the venue wasn’t really suited to a UK garage night. A large table area took up the centre space at the front of the stage, penning in those in VIP and keeping the lively revellers out and away from the action.
Overall, the music and performances were strong, but the night failed to reach a level of hype that Kisstory is known for. Maybe we might have to take a trip back to Ayia Napa, just to re-live those glory days.
The bottom line
A solid music bill, but poor setup. Kisstory failed to make history at Nasimi.