There are definitely two sides to Dubai: the traditional and conservative one can scare off misinformed people. The flip side is light years away, a wild side where people party until the small hours of the morning in clubs and bars so lavish they look straight out of the Great Gatsby. The party scene in Dubai rivals the likes of London and New York and is not as expensive or out of reach as one would think, if one knows how to navigate the city after hours.

How To Navigate the Dubai Party Scene

1- Meet The Friendly Expats To Get The Low-Down

It’s hard to shake the reputation that Dubai is expensive until you actually get there. It seems that everyone drives around in fancy cars, lives in beautiful houses and makes millions in a futuristic looking city where it’s always sunny.

Step one is to look for a good place to go for a low key drink and to meet the people who live here. After all, 85% of the population of the city is made of expatriates and we just had to find out what it’s really like living in Dubai.

2- Head To A Day-To-Night Beach Bar

Go to Barasti beach bar, an institution that’s been incredibly popular for almost twenty years, located in the Marina at the feet of a strip of skyscrapers. The place has everything, its own free beach with loungers, a deck with a bar and sofas, a restaurant upstairs with tables, an area for live music and screens to show football matches.

A lot of the expats are Brits so football is important and it turns out the local Emiratis also follow the UEFA cup. The people are friendly everywhere and it seems the motto “work hard, play hard” applies for most. The big salaries and the no income tax is a reality, but people do work hard and long hours and will check their emails even on the weekend. Besides, a lot of indirect fees that eat into everyone’s earnings every month.

Alcohol is definitely expensive, expect 12 dollars for a bottle of beer at a beach bar on a weeknight.

How To Explore Dubai Nightlife

3- Look Out For Ladies Nights, Happy Hours And Hotels

So, how do people with lower income sustain this lifestyle? Ladies’ nights for women and good happy hours is the main answer. There are a few bars and clubs that simply give out free drinks to women any night of the week and even some places during the weekend. Some bars have even launched a gentlemen’s night with a similar concept to balance out the advantage a bit. Happy hour is never to be underestimated, even popular places like Barasti offer drinks and food at reduced prices on the weekend.

Dubai, being a city in a Muslim country and a famous destination for luxury escapes does not grant alcohol licenses easily: only hotels have them so in most cases, bars and clubs are located inside hotels. And because it’s Dubai, the most popular places are located in fancy five-star hotels. While the bars are aplenty and will stay open from early to late, the clubs and after-hours spots are a league of their own and not to be missed if only to witness the lavish decors.

How To Navigate The Dubai Party Scene

4- The Clubbing Scene Is Not Intimidating With The Right Attitude

A few international bands were imported and duplicated exactly in key locations, Mahiki, Cirque le Soir and Mo*vida from London, Blue Marlin from Ibiza, VIP Room from France and White from Beirut in Lebanon.

The city also has a few of their own very popular clubs such as People by Crystal or Vii club at the Conrad and each place rivals the other with top notch DJ’s, live entertainment and outstanding service. Word of advice though, while the entrance to all of these clubs is free, it’s customary to be well-dressed. The queues at the entrance can be intimidating, but walking in as a couple (a man and a woman) even without reservations is the way to go, as opposed to being in a mixed group.

Everyone looks dressed to the nines, again, how do people afford these outfits? With a closer look, it seems few people wear really expensive brands: the emphasis is more on individuals expressing themselves, people are polished and put together and display their own unique style proudly. There seems to be more to the attitude than to the price tag, reassuring isn’t it?

5- How To Stay Informed About The Nightlife

Like any other big city, Dubai never sleeps and the party scene is happening every night of the week. How do you know where to go? are so many options to choose from so what places were a must-see for visitors? Social media is the way to go to keep informed, the DJ’s feed their night-by-night schedule on Instagram and Twitter as most clubs have different music on different nights, but the ultimate sources are online dubainight.com and Platinumlist.net.

Time Out magazine is also a valuable resource to lead us to top rated restaurant, bars and clubs. As the clubs close at 3AM, it is also safe to assume that places will get crowded by 1AM.

How To Explore Dubai Nightlife

6- The “It Spot” With a View

The “it spot” that has been having a moment since it opened in late 2013 remains White, for clubbing under the stars and the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world – in the background. The club is located on the roof of a horse racing track in an area of town called Meydan.

How To Explore Dubai Nightlife

The set up is immaculate, all the furniture and bar pristine white, and the place is arranged like a stadium around a stage in the middle you go up the further away you go, so on nights where artists perform (Ne-Yo, Sean Paul, Future to name a few), everyone has a perfect view. The venue itself is huge, you need a good fifteen minutes from the taxi to actually enter the club, the area can easily contain 2,000 people.

7- The Crowd’s Energy Is Unique 

Another place which has been consistently accoladed as the best club in Dubai is People by Crystal, located in Oud Metha on the top floor of the pyramid shaped Raffles Hotel. The club is visible from a distance as it has glass walls and lights up in orange colour at night. Again, entrance is free and the drinks are reasonably priced for Dubai standards.

One of the things that make Crystal is quite literally, the people: there is excitement in the crowd every night. The tables in the centre, under the DJ booth, are the VIP section, those are expensive and on Eid especially. Eid is the end of Ramadan, the fasting period. It is the biggest holiday in the Muslim world, people celebrate, the clubs stay open longer and everyone gets three days off from work.

How To Explore Dubai Nightlife

8- Expect Out Of Towners, Confettis and Fancy Cars 

In Dubai, people are from everywhere, there are a lot of out of towners from Saudi Arabia and Jordan who come for the weekend, because they could definitely not have the kind of night out back home that they can here. Nothing is too lavish: waiters coming out of nowhere with bottles of Dom Perignon with bright sparklers to serve at the tables. Just before the last song, the confetti cannon goes off, blowing glitter everywhere in the venue, every single night. And the best most unreal part should not be missed: once the music stops, stay close to the valet parking as it floods with expensive cars: Bentleys, customised AMG Mercedes in all matte black, and even a gold plated Rolls Royce.

A blue Lamborghini driving slowly by and making its engine roar, just because they can, making a sound so loud one would feel they are going deaf. Dubai is like that, every night is special and deserves sparklers and glitter.

What about you, have you explored the Dubai nightilife and party scene? What did you like the most about it?

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