The Palladium, Dubai’s great big, opera-ready venue, is finally open! And rather than launching with a couple of fat people bellowing at each other in Italian, it’s going for a more off-kilter – and, we reckon, far more appealing – approach. Yes, the organisers’ plan of launching in last December with Maroon 5 and Sting might have fallen through (Dubai’s building projects never seem to open on time), but what they have planned now is a wee bit more impressive.
‘Really, Time Out?’ you might say, although you’d look like a nutcase for talking to a magazine. ‘I’ve seen the pictures on this page and… well, Akon’s great and everything but he was out here in April 2008 for the Urban Desert Festival. And there’s no end of top international DJ talent coming to town.’ Well fine, you misery guts. But, aside from the facts – facts, we say! – that Akon’s talents as a performer haven’t diminished in the last 12 months and Fedde Le Grande remains one of the most sought-after jockeys on the track, this event has something a little more special hidden up its fancy sleeves.
You see, Evolution (as it’s been named) is the proposed first bash in what the organisers hope will become an annual mega-event. And since Dubai is positively swimming in events at a time when most people are counting their fils, they know that it has to be extra special. For a start, it’s going to be a themed event. And keeping an admirable grip on the fantastic at a time when reality is slapping everyone around the chops on a daily basis, this inaugural event has taken ‘space’ as its theme. Pretty apropos, given the recent success of Star Trek.
New arrivals will find the entrance to the venue transformed into a ‘space port’ where they can grab snacks and chill before entering one of three different areas. The most expensive of these by far is ‘Planet Superbia’ – seven ultra-exclusive (and honestly, if we read the word exclusive in a press release one more time, we’ll go postal) private booths looking down on the teeming dancefloor. We at Time Out won’t be able to afford that, of course, but who wants to sit on a balcony when everyone else is on the dancefloor? Chumps, that’s who.
So the cool kids will be in one of two places. ‘Galactic Valley’ is the real hub, mostly comprising the dancefloor and stage on which Akon, Fedde and pals will perform. They’ll be accompanied by dancers and a lightshow, and their differing styles of music – Akon is Mr R&B, of course, and Fedde is the king of so-bad-it’s-good cheesy house – will be merged by DJ/VJ Irwan and MC Lady Bee.
And for those with a little more cash to splash, ‘Planet Deluxe’ is a VIP area featuring a balcony overlooking the dancefloor and an F&B station as well as two separate rooms. They’ll be offering a choice of R&B or house, should whoever’s on the main stage not be to your liking, and apparently Akon will be retiring to the R&B room for the after-party. Though whether he’ll be on the dancefloor or hiding behind a velvet rope, we just don’t know. We suppose there’s only one way to find out…