It started as a low-key phenomenon in the clubs of Bur Dubai and over the years became a trend that has waltzed into glitzy ‘mainstream' venues in Dubai.

The Asian club scene has well and truly arrived with regular weekly nights at five-star hotels in the emirate.

XPRESS took a closer look to see how and why the Asian club scene has changed tracks.

The scene started in 2002 at the Bur Dubai nightclub Copacabana. Groups of Asians would flock to the club for their fix of Bollywood dance tracks.

A key member of the Asian club scene at the time was DJ Benson – widely credited as bringing Bollywood remixes into the mainstream in Dubai.

Evidence of its rapidly expanding popularity came just a few months later when he was hired in April 2003 by Jimmy Dix, a popular nightclub at Mövenpick Hotel which felt the pulse and tug of Asian music, and introduced The Vibe, an exclusive Asian night every Saturday.

"The trend was bound to catch on. There weren't any Indian nightclubs for Asians to go and party. Today many five-star hotels have opened their doors to the Asian community because they have realised the money-spinning potential of Asian nights," said DJ Benson.

Many in the business claim the perceived lack of Asian spending power and the ‘prestige' of the class-conscious five-star clubs were some of the considerations that kept the Asian club scene away from their dance floors.

For Benish Memon, marketing manager, M&M Entertainment, a company that used to organise parties called the Kandy Club,

it boils down to perceptions. "There is racism in many clubs in town. Try booking a table at a high-profile club with an Indian accent and chances are you will get a list of excuses," said Memon.

Today an increasing number of five-star nightclubs host at least one Asian night a week. Asians now have swanky places to party and dance to the music they like without fear of getting turned away.

Software engineer Amit Jain, an avid clubber, said: "I have stopped going to clubs where I got turned away on silly excuses. But thanks to these desi [Indian] nights at big-league clubs we can now party without worrying about discrimination veiled as ‘door policies'."

Manoj Shetty, who used to organise the Asian nights Bombay Funk and Nitro has a different take on the subject.

"The Indian music scene has undergone a metamorphosis. Today it has global appeal. Also, the new generation of global Indians wanted something more swish and sophisticated than what was available. They have the spending power, they love Indian music and they party hard. The time was ripe for exclusive Asian club nights," said Shetty.

Going by the response so far, the time sure seems ripe. Desi nights are now making many of Dubai's clubs dance to a different tune and more are getting ready to join the party that has only just begun.

DJ Shadow

  • Real name: Satheerth Kunneth
  • Age: 23
  • Nationality: Indian
  • Style of music: Bollywood with hip-hop and house
  • Fave music: Bollywood
  • Claim to fame: Kandy Club residency
  • Fave clubs to perform: Trilogy, Kandy Club
  • Fave party places: Boudoir, Trilogy
  • DJ he respects: Aqeel
  • Big break: Rain Dance 2004
  • Clubs he played: Trilogy, Bombay Funk (The Lodge), iBO, Kandy Club (Fairmont Dubai), Club Touch, The Mix
  • Performed alongside: Rishi Rich, Jay Sean, Juggy D, Atif Aslam, Junoon, Bombay Rockers, Raghav, Bally Sagoo, RDB, Panjabi MC, DJ Aqeel, DJ Suketu, DJ Akbar Sami and the Sona Family
  • International gigs: UK and Thailand
  • Thinks of Dubai party scene: Dubai crowd has great energy levels.