When you step inside this intimate, rustic, industrial space you are instantly transported to the live music venues found in cities with histories steeped in live performance, pulsating with energy, and anticipation for what is to follow. Suddenly, the feeling that you are part of a living, breathing and relevant music scene is palpable in Dubai. Look for the stage and you will quickly realize there is none – with nothing separating the musicians from the crowd, and band members rubbing shoulders with their audience. Come performance time, the bands take to the floor; simply rocking up and starting to perform without introduction, dimming of lights or other gimmicks. It’s a music experience in its most simple, yet most effective form; an honest and refreshingly down to earth approach to live performance.
The Other Side is a new music concept in and for Dubai, and has modeled itself after underground music scenes of established arts districts around the world. The experience is further heightened by the irony of the venue being located in the swanky Address hotel Dubai marina, in a bar called ‘& Lounge’. 5 star luxury hotel meets underground music bar; only in Dubai.
While visiting The Other Side, FNND was reminded of the days of nightclub/music venue ‘Alpha’ (Airport Meridien), where local music was heavily supported and became the main draw of the club’s programming. As co-founder Audrey Soler explains: ‘Attitudes to underground music have changed in tandem with the social and political developments in the region. In the UAE, live music venues are not developing or establishing as rapidly as the country is.’ Having clearly spotted a gap in the market, The Other Side has filled a void in a region that still lacks original live music venues.
Currently on their 7th night of the season, Soler and Dania Ismail (the other co-founder), aim to showcase different bands and acts from around the region. Musical styles vary, but definitely cater to a crowd yearning for something that isn’t mainstream and that brings them closer to what is emerging in the region – including Indie pop, folk, and electro.
Whilst not the only original music night in town, The Other Side’s approach is somewhat different because each event is marketed like a concert, with tickets and the artist line up announced a few weeks in advance.
As Soler told FNND: ‘We aimed for The Other Side to be perceived more as a music platform than a grassroots concert. The word has spread and we now have a good core of followers, organically recommending the event to their friends. Each night is a different night but the experience remains the same’
As with anything, the live music scene is only as good as its audience. The fact that the venue is packed to capacity most nights is testament to the fact that there is a large appetite for real and authentic music in Dubai, something not many other venues seem to be catching on to, preferring to stick to the tried and tested cover band formula. As Soler explains: ‘We think that people are tired of all these big shows and are craving for some more authenticity and less commercial music. Let’s be real. Dubai has to grow into a more urban city and adapt to this type of lifestyle. It starts with food, arts and culture. It’s not about impressing. It is about quality. At The Other Side that’s what we stand for: quality music.’
The Other Side is transcending the concept of just being another “good night out” and is becoming the kind of stage that celebrates and presents the regions’ most promising rising talents. In the world of FNND, this is something to be excited about!
Photo Credits: Hyku D Photography
About The Other Side:
Audrey Soler – Parisian-born Audrey has spent the last decade working for the major players in the advertising & media industry (Yahoo!, Dentsu Aegis Network). She also founded the renowned UAE based concept store The People Of Sand (www.thepeopleofsand.com) which features lifestyle products from around the world.
Dania Ismail – Dania worked as a business development strategist at MBC for 9 years before launching the awarded electro night Electric Days in Dubai in 2013, a leader in the underground electro scene. She also founded Jusoor, an NGO focused on education & entrepreneurship in the Arab world.