With its sci-fi-esque super-skyscrapers, eye-meltingly gaudy hotels and its bigger-better-brighter mentality, there are few cities as flamboyant as Dubai. And as anyone who’s seen the Smurfs, superheroes and dayglo oddballs that spring up at any big sporting event here will tell you, the people follow suit. So it’s a bit of a surprise, really, that there aren’t more fancy dress nights on the circuit. Not that longtime Dubai DJ Afroboogie is complaining; it means that his own night, Circus – with its gaggle of angels, devils, ghosts, clowns and latex-clad ladies – stands out.
Not that it was always going to be this way. ‘We didn’t intend for it to be a fancy-dress place at first,’ he says. ‘We just wanted to bring a crazy night out over here. I’m a huge fan of Circo Loco In Ibiza, both the sound and the image, but the whole dress-up thing just got out of hand. In a good way!’
In a good way indeed: once a month, Bur Dubai’s al fresco venue, Chill, comes alive with all manner of colourful strangeness. And, while being surrounded by vampires, monsters and – eek! – clowns might sound intimidating, Afroboogie says the atmosphere is anything but. ‘A friend of mind is pretty shy and he didn’t want to dress up for the night, so I kind of forced him to. When he got there, he got so much attention that he wanted to do it every week after that. Everyone was taking photos of everyone else, and people are always coming up and asking where you got your costume, or who you’re supposed to be.’
Or, indeed, who you are. ‘I went to the venue and started speaking to one of my friends, but she was so dressed up I didn’t even know it was her! And the bar staff didn’t recognise me when I was dressed up as Ali G. This kind of thing really breaks down barriers between friends and strangers.’
So what’s the best costume he’s seen there, then? ‘That’s such a difficult one – there were two girls in particular: Alice in Wonderland and obviously the girl in the nice latex outfit, but it’s really hard to choose. So many of the costumes are amazing. But I know our performers have the best costumes – that’s what they do.’
Oh yes – the performers. To make sure the night kicks off with a bang, Circus has its own freak show of professional club performers who’ll be breathing fire, creating sparks with angle grinders and doing all kinds of crazy things to keep the crowd entertained. And since they’re the only ones in professional costumes you don’t have to worry too much about making sure that your own kit is perfect.
‘It’s not about people spending a whole lot of money on their costume,’ says Afroboogie. ‘We just want people to be creative with what they have and how they look – that’s also why there’s no theme, just fancy dress. And if they don’t want to dress up they don’t have to. But I know that after the last event everyone who didn’t do that was really bummed about it.’ Aw, shucks. Well we’ll learn from their mistakes this time around. No latex for us, though. Especially not in this weather…
Circus is at Chill on April 3