If our article on ‘things only people who grew up in Dubai would know’ didn’t get you nostalgic enough, then perhaps this one will.
Those of us that have been in the UAE for around 10 years ago would’ve been exposed to a very different side of Dubai’s night life. It wasn’t always five-star hotels, tables and ten-inch heels – sometimes all you needed was a good old fashioned nightclub with a themed night or seven. Also, remember when a brunch cost less than Dhs200?
While some institutes remain others have now gone, but are never forgotten… here’s a nostalgic look at were once Dubai’s best bars:
Chi The Lodge
Ah, Chi. The place to be. One of the best places for catching up with mates, but could get pretty awkward if you were trying to avoid someone. Oh, and who could forget DJ Tim Cheddar’s school discos? And we’ve got to give credit to the shwarma man who made the insane taxi queues that little bit more bearable…
Best known for their cheap Friday brunches. The perfect place when there was too much month left at the end of your money. For Dhs75, you’d be given five drinks, and not one, but two buffets – with a full English served at lunchtime and a roast dinner in the afternoon. Waxy’s was basically just a pub with a DJ, and once the lights went down at 6pm, anything could happen. Also its ladies nights were the place to be thanks to the cheesy retro tunes and frozen, Slush Puppy cocktails.
Quaint and kitsch, Smiling BKK was one of the few places in town where you could actually bring along your own drinks. Definitely one of the more funky places in town to grab a drink and a Thai dinner.
Flavours On Two
One of the original spots for evening brunch (oxymoron)? They’d have a different menu every day, be it English, Thai or Italian. Whilst we’ve put it in the list of ‘old’ spots, Flavours On Two is still going today, and remains a great (and more affordable) place to nab yourself an all-you-can-eat-and-drink deal.
Ginseng The Lounge
Ah Ginseng. Back when Wafi was the place to be, so was Ginseng for their ladies’ nights. Their 50 per cent off happy hours made Ginseng a regular spot for Thursday nights too, and who could forget their Berry Sours cocktails?
Essentially a large tin shed behind the Grand Millenium Hotel in Garhoud, iBO hosted film screenings, live music and events, but it was probably indie night Twisted Melons that pulled in the crowds. Come summer though, the club got sweatier than a fresher’s week student night. iBO’s appeal was in its utter un-Dubainess, where Brits could head down and bounce around to Song 2 in their flip-flops.
The Red Lion
Supposedly the first pub in Dubai, The Red Lion to the Brits, felt like home. It legitimately felt like an authentic British pub. They shared an outdoor seating area with The Rattlesnake though which unfortunately, was a somewhat less salubrious establishment until it eventually closed.
Head to the Glasshouse on a Monday or Wednesday night and you’d be able to take advantage of their ultimate meal deal – order two courses, and all drinks become Dhs1. Rumour has it that the menu was overseen by Gordon Ramsay himself, and who’s to say it wasn’t? The food was incredible.
One of the best spots for an evening feed and beverage, with way more curry and food stations than anywhere else in town. Cheap, cheerful, solid fun. And all-you-can-eat.
Despite never failing to deliver a great night out, nobody actually ever planned to go to Rock Bottom. You’d just kind of end up there, drawn in by the siren calls of the kebab stands just inside the doorway. And who doesn’t love a sloppy 2am game of pool?
When people got fed up of Irish Village playing the same Irish music CD on repeat, The Cellar became an after-work hotspot for many – particularly the media crowd. If you were looking to get in on the gossip, then Thursdays at The Cellar was the place to be. They did a great posh brunch without the posh price tag too.
Long’s Bar, named so because of its ultra long bar and it’s even longer opening hours. While we’re pretty certain the decor is modelled on the set of Cheers, it’s not the place where everybody knows your name and you’re really glad they came.
Photos: Motivate Publishing/Facebook