Dubai: With a bit of reinventing to cope with the pandemic, you can almost say that Dubai’s nightlife is back. Over the last decade, nightlife in this city has always been a major attraction for both residents and tourists. With over hundreds of dance clubs across the city, there was always an opportunity to party. Whether you like hardcore hip hop, Desi nights or throwback 80s hits, you could literally find it all.

Under UAE guidelines, parties had to be adjusted slightly. Beverages can only be served with food, masks must be worn except when seated, tables must be spaced two meters apart or separated by barriers.  (And if a bouncer sees you dancing, he will sternly ask you to sit down.) You are not allowed to get up and dance.

For many fun-seeking residents, the return of the clubbing scene is just what they needed after the enforced break. According to Dania Salaheddine, a Dubai resident, “I saw an Asian restaurant that used to be quite tame, put on the craziest show with dancers. They were blasting reggaeton music. I didn’t realise how much I missed partying.”

Clubs getting makeovers

Today, clubs in Dubai have found creative ways to help residents and tourists let their hair down without breaking any rules. Take Billionaire for example. The former club had to shut down because of the pandemic, so they took this hiatus as an oportunity to completely reinvent their offering.

The new Billionaire Dubai became a “supper club”, which is a high-end dining venue with Cirque de Soleil level performances. This isn’t just a singer and dancer on stage – they have body contortionists, acrobats, hip-hop dancers, show tune singers and more.

“We noticed that even during these uncertain times, people were craving a night out,” said Brian Bendix, CEO of Billionaire Lifestyle. “So we decided to create a dining and ‘Grand Show’ experience, where we offer customers a full evening of surprises. We had to find a way to make sitting at a table for hours still very enjoyable.”

Dubai Night Out (Billionaire)
The Grand Show at Billionaire Dubai: Put out big acts… and the patrons will followImage Credit: Supplied

How does Billionaire stand out? With a five-course fine dining meal and by putting on a captivating show. “Looking at the type of dinner shows that have been on the entertainment market for years, we noticed that many of them focus more on the show and fall short on the dining offer,” Bendix added. “It becomes an uneven final product.” So Billionaire stepped in to fill that gap.

Bring on the chair dancing

And it’s not just clubs that are adjusting to the new normal; many restaurants are upgrading their offering to add a DJ, dancers and a party vibe. Taikun is one of those places that’s made those changes. “We offer a culinary experience with cabaret-style dance and music shows on several nights a week,” said Ernesto Labrada, Area General Manager at Taikun and La Serre.

It’s clear that Dubai’s diners are looking for something more upbeat tempos to the evenings. “This is why we implemented this kind of entertainment at Taikun,” said Musbah Haddad, Lifestyle and Brand Director, Lincoln Hospitality, the owning company of Taikun. “We also have cabaret-style dance performances, a solo violinist and musical performances on Fridays for our ‘Project Provacateur’ night.”

Taikun hosts cabaret-style dance performances on Fridays for their “Project Provacateur” night.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Downtown Dubai hotspot hosts a ‘My Boyfriend is Out of Town’ ladies’ nigh where social distancing norms are in place along with the bites, beverages and live dancers.

Pump up the sounds

Even bars are figuring how to operate during a pandemic. “It’s been really hard,” said Alan Roberts, the Marketing Manager at Lucky Voice. “Obviously, without dancing and the use of our Karaoke pods, we have had to up the ante on the offerings. We managed to implement crowd karaoke and also a new Friday night video DJ, who offers something really visual.”

Crowd karaoke means there’s an MC on stage as well as a DJ in the booth, and they put the words to classic karaoke songs on the screen and encourage loud singing. And the worse you sound, the better.

“It was important for us to maintain the fun and crazy elements, but to make sure we’re sticking to the guidelines,” said Roberts. “So it’s really the best of both worlds.”

Dubai’s party-goers will agree…