Inviting rapper Nelly to launch your new R&B and hip-hop night is a smart way to get it on the map, especially in a city that’s already pretty saturated with urban music nights.
Provocateur, located within the Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, started out as a dedicated electronic music venue. The brand originated in New York’s Meatpacking district with a reputation for a sophisticated crowd and music policy of deep house and electro.
After migrating to the UAE, Provocateur has generally remained true to the original ethos so the club’s current foray into more soulful sounds of ’90s R&B is quite a divergence, and a possible sign that urban music is just too popular to ignore in Dubai’s highly competitive nightlife scene.
Switch Up is a weekly night, held on Wednesdays, and following a packed out launch night with the Hot in Herre rapper lending some hip-hop street credibility, the night continues to be popular with a smart yet edgy crowd.
The door policy is particularly tight on dress code. Provocateur requires men and women to get their glad rags on, and the urban night is no different. So if your interpretation of ‘urban’ is snapback cap and a pair of Jordans, don’t be surprised if you’re asked firmly and politely to exit the line.
Inside the club, the DJ warms up the crowd with a mix of R&B classics which are very rarely heard in many nightspots, so if you were two-stepping in the late ’90s to tunes by the likes of Lil’ Mo, Tweet and Jagged Edge or have an appreciation for such beats then you’ll be grooving through the night.
The DJ manoeuvres skilfully into current club hits, drawing on Drake, Rihanna and Justin Bieber to get hands in the air. The one downside of the venue is that there’s only a limited dance floor – just a small space at the front of the DJ booth. Although those gathered on tables will groove around in their twee floral upholstered banquettes, when the DJ drops some top tunes you’ll wish for more space to cut loose.
The night has a good vibe and atmosphere, especially once the party gets going and tables fill up, which is around 1am. At its peak, revellers start dancing around the bathtub on the raised platform of the club, and a troupe of servers with sparklers march through the crowd every time
a bottle of premium bubbly is ordered.
Whether you’re popping bottles on a table or sipping your beverages by the bar it’s generally a good-value night out, as entry is free for men and women and there’s no need to reserve a table to gain entry.
The club serves up a good menu of drinks and there’s a bottle service on the reserved tables. The bar is busy and, as is often the case, is a part of the venue where many patrons congregate after the drinks have been served. However, service here is hit and miss, and personalities vary from great to grumpy depending on who’s behind the pumps.
Switch Up is a lively soulful night and may have successfully tweaked things for Provocateur by widening their clientele and branching out from electronic dance music, for one night of the week at least.
Free. Wed 11pm-3am. Provocateur, Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah Beach Road, www.provocateurdubai.com (055 211 8222).
The bottom line An upmarket R&B night with a soundtrack of bassy ’90s hits in a classy venue.