All that marketing – being transported into a different world of music, soundscapes-altering audio-visual treats and the pushing of EDM (that’s Electronic Dance Music for the uninitiated) boundaries — came very close on Thursday night. What was missing though was the sand and the smell of the sea.
Sunburn festival, born in Goa, India’s party capital, and raised on a heady diet of the coastal sun and an explosive mix of DJs from around the world, finally made it to the shores of the Arabian Gulf.
Confined to the halls of the World Trade Centre Arena, there seemed to be a little lacking, all for at least 30 seconds after walking through the door. We happened to walk in when DJ Pearl (boy, has she come a long way) and Nikhil Chinnappa (Creator and Festival Director of Sunburn) were working up the crowd; a crisp house set and Chinnappa’s words — “You look so good Dubai!” — put the crowd in the perfect mood for a spectacular night ahead.
Picking up right from where the head bobbing, ever smiling, Pearl left off, MadJam came, saw and turned the party up 10 notches. As one of Middle East’s most popular DJs, no wonder he’s played warm-up sets for big daddies like Guetta, Digweed and Paul Oakenfold. He combined progressive house with a bit of funk, vocals and a dash of awesome.
It was inching towards 1am when the crowd started getting a bit restless. From various corners of the arena, we could hear chants: “TEE.ES.TO!” “TEE.ES.TO!”. And right on cue, Chinnappa wasted no time in introducing the headlining DJ.
Every single cell phone up in the air as we were treated to a jaw dropping audio visual wizardry coupled with unrivalled showmanship. I mean, let’s face it, a world famous Dutch EDM icon mixed with Asia’s largest dance and music festival on Shaikh Zayed Road on a Thursday night. What’s not to like?.
Here’s the man who helped introduce Armin Van Buren and Ferry Corsten to mainstream trance. And after a career that has spanned nearly two decades, the 44-year-old stayed true to the track he started his set with, and owned the night.
The best part of seeing so many people having so much fun was when we were leaving around 2am and we ran into two guys rushing to get in (again, remember this was 2am) and asking us where they could get tickets to enter the venue. We showed them the way, before one of them turned around and asked: “Why are you leaving so early!”
Got to love Dubai.
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