We’ve crowned Dubai’s best party people, nights out, brunches and venues. Here, we reveal the winners of the What’s On Nightlife Awards 2019…
WINNER: JIXO & DANZ
The award for Best DJ goes to not one, but two DJs – Jixo and Danz. The DJ duo are local heroes in their own right, spinning top sets each week at their Soho Garden residency. They’ve also warmed up for the likes of Roger Sanchez and Solomun over the last 12 months. The duo retain their title as the city’s best DJs for the second year in a row.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: SCOTT FORSHAW
Concerts in Saudi Arabia, 2 million streams on Spotify… it’s been a big year for Scott Forshaw. The British DJ has dropped a string of remixes this year that have garnered international attention, and as well as his weekly sets at Barasti, you can catch Scott spinning on his regular Dance FM slot.
BEST LOCAL BAND/ACT
WINNER: DANNY ARIDI
Making his What’s On Awards win debut is Danny Aridi. The soulful Canadian/Lebanese artist is signed to Universal Music, and in the last twelve months has released six original songs and music videos, and performed alongside artists including Post Malone, Fifth Harmony and The Backstreet Boys.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: HOLLAPHONIC
You’ll do well to remember the name Hollaphonic. Born out of a recording studio in Dubai in 2013, the duo, made up of Olly Wood and Greg Stainer, are making moves in the industry both on home soil and internationally. As well as releasing music, you can find them performing at venues including Siddharta Lounge and Barasti. This year, they became the world’s first DJs to hold a residency at an airport.
BEST URBAN NIGHT
WINNER: URBN AT WHITE DUBAI
Pumping tunes, international artists and a wow-worthy production, URBN ticks all the boxes. Add to that the fact that ladies can enjoy complimentary drinks until 1am at the Saturday ladies’ night at White Dubai and you’ve got yourself an award-winning combination, making this an unbeatable night out for urban hits.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: THE LIST AT BILLIONAIRE MANSION
The List at Billionaire Mansion has stood the test of time as one of the city’s biggest – and best – urban nights. It consistently draws in glamorous party crowds each week despite being on a Sunday, and remains the place to party if you’re out-out on a Sunday night.
BEST HOUSE/TECHNO NIGHT
WINNER: SESH AT INDUSTRIAL AVENUE
This night really is all about the music. Deep and techno house hits are spun by the SESH resident DJs, and the night has simply become the go-to night out for quality house music.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: NOMAD AT PLAYA NOMADE
On the tip of the Palm Jumeirah, Nomad has been gradually establishing itself as a go-to after hours event for house lovers in the city. The weekly international DJ line-up is as impressive as the decor, and there’s something special about partying on the sand to the sounds of some of the world’s best house hitmakers.
BEST INTERNATIONAL DJ SET:
WINNER: BLACK COFFEE AT BLUE MARLIN IBIZA UAE
Known for bringing some of the top house, electronic music and techno names to the shores of the UAE, Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE is the one to beat when it comes to top international DJ sets. We partied hard at so many of their gigs this year, but the standout was Black Coffee.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: SOLOMUN AT SOHO BEACH
Solomun is no stranger to Dubai, having performed several times across the city over the last few years. But when he took to the stage for the first time at Soho Beach last December, it was like Christmas came early for the crowd. Coincidentally, you’ll be able to see him spin there again on April 26.
WINNER: CORONA SUNSETS FESTIVAL AT BARASTI BEACH
This three-day party is a highlight in the winter season calendar in Dubai. Beachside pop-ups, drinks deals and epic DJ sets as the sun goes down see half the city turn up to Barasti over the weekend of the Corona Sunsets Festival. This year, the festival made waves as the first festival in the city with a focus on sustainability. As well as a sustainable pop-up bar focusing on serving zero waste cocktails, there were short workshops for a glimpse of how a zero-waste bar can run and live demonstrations from eco-warrior Ryan Ingram on the zero-waste trend.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: GROOVE ON THE GRASS
The city’s longest-serving homegrown festival brings out the crowds every time they announce a new line-up. Why? Well it could be the brilliant artist bookings, but it’s not just about the music. As well as two main stages hosting a mix of international and local talent, the one day music festival plays host to an activities area and marketplace with pop up stalls. To date, they’ve brought over 100 artists to the city.
WINNER: DONE EVENTS PRESENTS BACKSTREET BOYS AT DUBAI MEDIA CITY AMPHITHEATRE
Nick Carter may have almost fallen off the Media City Amphitheatre stage at their Dubai gig, but we fell harder in love with the boys after an epic concert filled with old-school hits. Backstreets back indeed.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: HACIENDA CLASSICAL AT DUBAI OPERA
Revered Hacienda DJs and a full symphony orchestra recreating some of the world’s most beloved house, club and rave classics – for those who loved the club anthems of the ‘80s this was the party of the year.
BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE
WINNER: THE IRISH VILLAGE
From Busted to Marti Pellow, the live acts you can catch at The Irish Village are of the widest range imaginable. Walking into the Irish Village feels like home, which is why any gig there successfully manages to bring packed-out crowds to the waterside of Garhoud.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Q’S BAR AND LOUNGE
The world of jazz is thriving in Dubai, and that’s all thanks to Q’s. Intimate, effortlessly cool, and quality bands – but with legend Quincy Jones picking the line-up each season, should we really be surprised?
BEST PUB/SPORTS BAR
WINNER: LOCK, STOCK & BARREL JBR
Lock, Stock & Barrel JBR is a Dubai stalwart when it comes to post-work drinks or somewhere to go for a proper pint. Add to that the super sized screen for all the big matches, and a huge stage that serves up some brilliant local live music – and you’ve got yourself an award-winning venue.
HIGHLY COMMENDED BEST PUB/SPORTS BAR: THE HIDEOUT
This understated Marina Byblos hangout might be home to lively ladies’ nights and party brunches later on, but it serves as a brilliant venue to watch all the city’s big matches – and enjoy a value roast dinner too.
BEST BEACH CLUB
WINNER: COVE BEACH CAESARS PALACE
We loved Cove Beach version one. But when it arrived at Caesars Palace it was bigger and better than even we could have imagined. Whether it’s their sellout chilled acoustic evenings as the sun sets, Wednesday ladies’ day, or brilliant day-to-night weekend events, Cove Beach Caesars Palace is the perfect blend of beach meets party and you’ll go a long way to beat a day-to-night experience better than this in Dubai.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: ZERO GRAVITY
Loved in equal measure for its luxe ladies’ day and weekend brunches by day, and its high energy evening brunches and international DJ gigs by night, Zero Gravity consistently brings something new to the table.
BEST OUTDOOR BAR
WINNER: THE PENTHOUSE
There’s no time of day we don’t love paying a visit to The Penthouse. Tan topping in the daytime? Check. Sundowners against the Marina skyline? Check. Seeing international DJs by night? Check – this bar has got it all, and there’s nowhere we’d rather be for a drink alfresco.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: SOHO GARDEN
Soho Garden has built up a reputation as the go-to bar for a big night out five nights a week. Whether it’s there bi-weekly ladies’ night on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, or you’re wanting to catch an international or local DJ on Thursdays or Fridays, Soho Garden has raised the game when it comes to bringing big events to bars in Dubai.
BEST LADIES’ NIGHT
WINNER: MR MIYAGI’S
Who doesn’t love a night out at Mr Miyagi’s? Whether you’re taking advantage of their brilliant ladies’ night offer in the restaurant (though you’ll want to book a table a few weeks in advance), or making your way to the bar late at night for the inventive weekly shows, there’s no better Wednesday night out than Mr Miyagi’s Wednesday ladies’ night.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: RAMUSAKE
Ramusake has stood the test of time. Two years after launching Miss Independent, you can still expect to queue if you want to get in on a Wednesday at this Japanese hotspot. Tunes to get you dancing, sparkler shows every five minutes and free-flowing wine for ladies? You’ve got yourself a recipe for a brilliant ladies’ night.
BEST PARTY BRUNCH
WINNER: STK DOWNTOWN
What makes STK Downtown’s brunch brilliant? Just ask the endless queues of people trying to get a table a month in advance. The food is fantastic, drinks flow freely, and you’ll go a long way to beat the lively vibe, brought to you by commercial DJ sets, live sax and dancers.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: SECRET GARDEN BRUNCH AT FLAIR NO.5
It might be new to the party, but Secret Garden Brunch has already bloomed into one of the city’s go-to Friday afternoon fiestas. As well as pop-up bars serving colourful drinks, entertainment from a magician and live sax, and resident DJs that’ll have all guests on their feet by the end, you’ll feast on no less than a dozen delicious sharing dishes.
BEST LADIES’ DAY
WINNER: MADE IN SOHO AT SOHO BEACH
Fact: There are no mid-week pool parties better than Made In Soho. A swim up bar, VIP cabanas complete with jacuzzi’s and free flowing drinks offers for guys and girls? Soho Beach might be the home of some of Dubai’s biggest parties by night, but it’s now also home to the city’s ultimate daytime party too.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: NIKKI BEACH DUBAI
We love Nikki Beach. First of all it’s beautiful – with luxe cabanas lining a super sized swimming pool that’s separated in the centre by a dazzling stage. Secondly, because it throws one of the city’s best ladies’ days. Entry, a day bed and six cocktails for Dhs130? What better way to spend the day…
BEST EVENING BRUNCH
WINNER: THE STAGE BRUNCH BY LOVE PARTIES AT JAZZ PIZZAEXPRESS
One of the first Thursday evening party brunches in the city, The Stage Brunch by Love Parties stands out from the crowd thanks to its generous (and delicious) servings of signature Pizza Express dishes, extensive drinks offering and live entertainment. Make no mistake – while this may start off more chilled, you’ll likely find yourself on the dancefloor by the end of the night. It’s brilliant value for money too – with the house package priced at Dhs225.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: MR MIYAGI’S
The ever-popular, Asian hotspot Mr Miyagi’s has an evening brunch packed with live entertainment, karaoke, glitter stations, games, beer and prosecco pong and plenty more. Couple that with five courses of Miyagi’s signature dishes and three-hours of unlimited beverages, and you’ve got the perfect way to kick off the weekend.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: NIGHTCLUB
WINNER: DRAI’S DXB
You might not have thought Dubai needed another alfresco super club, but that was until Drai’s arrived to fill a void you didn’t even know existed. The Las Vegas export had a lot to prove with such a huge reputation in the US, but they have delivered and then some. With the biggest names in hip-hop regularly headlining the stage to a sold-out crowd of fans, this is THE place to be on Tuesdays and Fridays.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: TOY ROOM
Since relocating to Soho Garden, the new Toy Room came back bigger and better than ever before. In the last 12 months, the club has seen performances from huge stars such as Ne-Yo, Busta Rhymes, Nelly and Big Sean to name just a few.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: BAR
Our winning newcomer bar is a deserving winner for the simple fact it’s so much more than a bar. Wavehouse caters for everyone – with a bowling alley, retro gaming zone, restaurant, adults-only bar and even a wave machine. This entertainment destination also has a fantastic ladies’ night and a pretty epic monthly full moon party.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: THE HIDEOUT
In a city famous for its luxurious bars and accompanied high prices tags, rarely does a refreshing affordable bar come along with a no-frills attitude. The Hideout is the answer to those who want a great night out, without the morning bank balance regret. With a three-hour happy hour, fun evening brunch and all your sports games shown on screen, what more could you want?
BAR OF THE YEAR
WINNER: THE PENTHOUSE
We’re calling it: The Penthouse is the best bar in the city. You can always guarantee a great time at The Penthouse. Whether it’s to party the night away with one of house music’s most current DJs at Skyline Thursdays, or spend the day in the transparent pool sipping cocktails, you’re bound to have a memorable experience at our bar of the year.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: LOCK, STOCK & BARREL JBR
Come night or day, there’s a great vibe in Lock Stock & Barrel. The super-sized space delivers an excellent array of bar food, fantastic live music nights and is a go-to for party or pub people across the city. Whether it’s catching the football, sumo wrestling at their Friday brunch or kickstarting your Tuesday night at their ‘Lock, Stock and Lipstick’ ladies’ night, you’re guaranteed a good time.
CLUB OF THE YEAR
WINNER: BASE DUBAI
Our Club of the Year winner is a venue that rocketed onto the nightlife season and has gone from strength to strength ever since. With an endless amount of superstar performances under its belt, as well as some seriously wow-worthy production at their weekly Saturday party, Crazyland, Base always goes the extra mile in delivering a unique experience for visitors.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: WHITE DUBAI
White Dubai deserves a special mention due to its consistent efforts to remain fresh, no matter what competitors Dubai offers up. With huge name acts taking the stage on an almost weekly basis, White is a guaranteed good night throughout the season.