Arose by any other name would smell as sweet, right? And by the same logic, a massive shindig at Zero Gravity with world-famous DJs, which was free before 6pm and Dhs150 thereafter, should be pretty good, regardless of whether it’s Velocity, Aurora or, as it was this weekend, One Big Friday. Quite what William Shakespeare would have made of it all is anyone’s guess, but the limited frills night was certainly more manageable than some of The Bard’s more complex tales.
The venue will forever have an enormous pull thanks to its location and slick operation, whatever the size of crowd. Here it was no different; while the bill suggested this was one for music fans rather than your casual drop-ins, inside and out was road-blocked, with guests still arriving as Saturday officially kicked in.
By that time, Belgian veterans 2manydjs had taken to the stage, and they meant business. (Well, they wore suits.) The double-act had been joined on nearby platforms by neon helmet-wearing dancers, part of a definite shift towards hedonism that happened as the clock struck midnight. Their set was the usual mash-up of beats, both sampled and original – a brand of “happy if a little wacky” dance music that when got right (as it was for the most part) sparked the crowd into reckless abandon with arms and legs.
Going back briefly to that tenuous Shakespeare link, the balcony overlooking the main area, normally the vantage point of VIPs – and those pretending to be – was closed; where for art thou drinks with sparklers? There was, as is customary, a roped-off area, of course, down along the beach front, but by and large this event was all about the music.
Those invested from the start – doors opened at 3pm – could feed at the food court. As the night progressed, the area had something of a picnic vibe as aching feet sought solace from the crowds.
Back on stage, Lost Frequencies – a 21-year-old, also from Belgium – was a little underwhelming. Best known for his enormous catchy smash hit Are You With Me (more than 120 million YouTube views), he was out of his depth here, warming up for his fellow countrymen, masters of their craft thanks to two decades’ more experience. The aforementioned hit is truly basic level house music, a generic beat held together by a soulful voice repeating the same hook on loop. His set wasn’t too dissimilar. The same can’t be said for the terrific Andrew Hartley, who combined a high-energy persona with a clever collection of reworked old classics, current popular dance tracks and some downright bold mixes. Earlier, Hercules And Love Affair – two DJs and two singers – had ramped up the party atmosphere with their own brand of ’90s-dance and disco-inspired tunes.
The event was a triumph for the team behind it, not on the scale of their more commonly-known parties, but one nonetheless that proves the appetite for good music is at least on a par with the desire simply to party. One Big Friday delivered both with aplomb.
November 20, 3pm-3am. Zero Gravity, near Skydive Dubai, Dubai Marina.
The bottom line
Sweet like Belgian chocolate – a proper night out ticking all the boxes.