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Q&A with clubbing expert Manuel Ayas

Manuel Ayas is the founder and managing director of Ayas Nightlife Consultants, which has helped create Armani Privé, Sanctuary and many other high-end nightclubs around the world. But if you think his job entails socialising, staying up late and getting his friends on the guest list, think again.

Manuel Ayas
Image Credit: Supplied picture
Manuel believes that "the people make the place" when it comes to a good nightclub.

What does your job as a nightlife consultant involve?
We’re not party organisers and we’re not promoters. We’re more into the core of the business. When the clients and investors have an idea, we create a concept for them, then we put together a business plan. And when the clients give us the go-ahead we hire the architects, the designers, the artistic directors. We also hire the staff and train them to manage the business. We then share a percentage of the revenue with the clients and, after a couple of years, we fully hand over the operation to the owners. We do this all over the world.

When did you first consider the world of nightclubs as a place where you could forge a career?
I’ve never drank alcohol or smoked, so when I was younger and I was in a nightlife environment, I always saw it as a very dark place, and not really the kind of place for me. But then when I went to Ibiza, I came across a lot of other people like me – not drinking – and I realised that nightclubs could be a lucrative, fun and dynamic environment. I really thought it might be a good business.

I started working in Pacha, and that is where my mind completely opened up to the potential of nightlife. From travelling all over the world I also realised this: that in 20, 30 or 200 hundred years, human beings will still want entertainment, just as they’ll always want food to live.

You worked in Ibiza for several years. How does Dubai’s nightlife compare to the party capital of the Mediterranean?
It’s changed and evolved a lot, especially in the last three years. But Ibiza is a very unique niche market, and you can’t really compare the two. Ibiza is seasonal, but Dubai is eleven months a year.

What are the ingredients that make a truly great nightclub?
It seems in this part of the world that everybody thinks the place makes the people. But I always think it’s the other way around: the people make the place. People who are passionate about music, about lifestyle about entertainment… they are the major ingredients of any good nightclub anywhere in the world.

If you could travel back in time to any nightclub, party or festival in history, which one would you go to?
I would go to two places. Firstly Pacha, because when I was directing the VIP area over there, it was like that movie about [legendary New York nightclub] Studio 54. Even today that club has a magical element.

Secondly, I would go to Trilogy when it launched. When I came to Dubai I didn’t know anybody and I was given the chance to run it. There were a few little things going on in Dubai then but nothing major. So I just copied and pasted Pacha; I duplicated the concept of it here, with international DJs, massive marketing, etc. And at that time there was no competition and there was a lot of money that was readily available. There was something beautiful about it, because in a way it was like teaching the people here. We were the first to introduce the VIP aspect to Dubai. We educated the market. In 60 years I will tell my children about Trilogy in Dubai.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I see myself with an amazing family, with children and having a good life where I don’t have to work so hard. And I’m building a house in Ibiza, so I see myself spending time there in the summer.

If I wasn’t doing this I’d be...I really can’t imagine doing anything else

A person who’s had a big influence on my life: My mother, who is so charismatic and hard-working

A fictional character after my own heart: Santiago, the character from Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist

A word or expression that I use a lot: When other people are sleeping, keep pushing

Stuff that I always travel with: I take my running kit wherever I go in the world