wkd Jane Aldersley of Bad House Party


This is Jane! I knew I loved this New Zealander the minute I met her; the first time because, well duh, she throws (and plays ‘wkd’ sets during) one of Dubai’s best, and practically self-funded, indie music nights (catering to all my musical needs from Toro Y Moi to NOFX, The Cure to The xx); and the second time because, when celebrating said night, Bad House Party, winning a TimeOut award for Best Alternative Night recently, she pulled me aside for Jaegerbombs and jokingly said “that’s probably the most un-indie thing ever, winning an award”.

“That was a total shock, although a very pleasant one at that,” she adds now.

Needless to say, 2016 has seen BHP off to an even more promising start. “Our main objective this year – apart from keeping the DJ nights running successfully – was to try to bring over three international bands to play live, which would be one up from the two we brought in 2015. So far we’ve got one solid in May and one tentative in October, so I guess we are on track to achieve that, provided we have the funds to pay for everything.

“Bringing bands over is an expensive hobby!”

An expensive hobby that the entire team – who have day jobs – are certainly good at, and which will only continue to reward them in 2016. I, at least, am forever grateful for this slice of ‘something else’ in the UAE and happy to party with them for two nights in May.

Yep, BHP hit up Casa Latina tonight with more uncaged (inflatable) animals moshing with Dubai’s discerned listeners to, erm, Cage The Elephant et cetera, et cetera… whereas next weekend they bring Brighton rockers Black Honey to town for another smashing bash.

If you go to any one of these parties, go say hi to Jane – she’s lovely – and tell her all the random facts you now know about her because of this haphazard Q&A.

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*The acts are coming in. What else is on the BHP agenda this year?

“To try to attract some kind of sponsorship. We’ve done everything so far without sponsorship, using only the funds generated by the regular DJ nights – not because we are against the idea of corporate sponsorship, but just because we’re all a bit clueless and non-mercenary, I guess! Winning the Time Out Award triggered some interest in that area, so it’s looking positive.”

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*What other essential parties/club nights do you frequent in Dubai besides your own?

“I have huge respect for the folks at The Other Side, who are trying to put on live band gigs on the regular. Having worked on a couple of band bookings for BHP, I know what a long, expensive and frustrating process it can be, just to get a decent band to stand on stage and play instruments in this town. TOS make it look easy, and they deserve all the support.

“Freshly Ground Sounds are also doing an amazing thing by giving a platform for local musicians to perform in front of an audience, and the standard is actually really good.

“I try to drop in on the other Dubai indie nights, Step On and Loaded, as often as possible. Both nights put a different spin on Indie compared to BHP, but that’s awesome in my opinion.

If, when I arrived here 8 1/2 years ago, someone had told me that one day there would be three or four different regular Indie nights in Dubai, I’d have laughed and told them to get back on their meds.

“Although bass and house music aren’t really my things, I do have a lot of love for three other nights in Dubai – Karak Beats, Dust, and Analog Room. They always have a great vibe and attract interesting, creative, friendly people, which means I can always have an awesome time chatting at the bar, even if I’m not dancing.

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wkd’s May wishlist


For the longest while I’ve been dreading the end of April. Back in the day (as in 11 years ago when I first moved out to the Middle East), April ending meant a whole lot of hot nothing was going to happen in town until about October.I’d usually be grateful to fly out for as long as possible, finances willing.

I know it’s not anywhere near ‘summer hot’ yet, but Island Girl or not, I’ve never been good with heat/humidity and I’m already feeling kind of icky.

Anyway, what’s different this year is that I’m so distracted by a packed calendar to really notice said ickiness – May is pretty busy still! Indoor and outdoor fun is still going strong, from free open-air cinema and alternative kinds of sea, sand and terrace brunching to outdoor boot camps, and there are more gigs, fairs, markets, foodie, art and culture events on than I have enough energy (or money) for.

With summer a month away too, I can’t believe I’ve just been to the launch of two new rooftop bars in the capital! Doesn’t look like the UAE much cares what the weather brings anymore. And I like that.

Here are the Top 10 things I want to have done, outdoors and indoors, this month. And you’re certainly encouraged to join in.

wkd’s May wishlist (starting with the most boring one first, promise)

*Have a little nerd time at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. Not just books and books, but also workshops, author talks and even film screenings, and entry is free. On until May 3rd.


*Wander through the new exhibit at Warehouse421. ‘Departure’ (which appears to be merging incredible iron craftsmanship with poetry) is the work of Spaniard Xavier Mascaró, and will be unveiled this week at the massive Mina gallery, running until September 4th. On May 4th, however, you can even pick the artist’s brain during the weekly ‘Wednesdays at the Warehouse’ series. Sign up for the talk ASAP via the website.

*Cash in on Dh10 drinks one last time. Grab your tenners and get in on the last wave of cheap-as-chips drinks offered during Jazz @ Pizza Express’ daily 5-7pm Happy Hour. It includes beer and bubbly too! At Dh10 a pop! This will certainly be missed when it disappears on May 5. Best kept secret ever, that was.

*Finish those two books you feel like you’ve been reading forever. Sorry, more books (I’m a writer, and therefore a reader). The two titles I’m currently juggling are Caitlin Moran’s Moranthology, and Martin Amis’ Money. I swear the M theme wasn’t intentional for, um, May. What are you reading? Hustle it up and finish with me!

*Eat for free courtesy Taqado. In celebration of the launch of their 11th branch in the UAE – and Cinco de Mayo – Taqado is giving away 1,000 free burritos a day at a select outlet each day until May 11. In Abu Dhabi, that’s only at The Galleria, Reem Island on May 3rd, whereas Dubaians are a little more spoilt for choice. Check it.


*See Brighton band Black Honey live at Bad House Party. Dynamic shoegaze-y surf rock, featuring the amazing Lana Del Rey-esque vocals of frontwoman Izzy Phillips? Um, yes, I think so. Bad House Party (or BHP), a monthly fixture at Dubai dive bar Casa Latina, is a must if you’ve been pining for a night out that caters to your weirder musical tastes. Let’s get weird!

*Blag my way into a book-themed dinner at The Ritz. Oh, look, more books! This is good though. The Forge steakhouse at The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal is impressing me mightily by attempting to pair literature and dining on May 13 in a menu inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books. I guess you could call it a culinary journey inside a story. Each guest will receive a copy of The Great Gatsby and will be invited to join a literary discussion moderated by the guest speakers from New York University Abu Dhabi. The menu looks ridiculous: go.


*Dabble in Dudeism once more at another Abu Dhabi Lebowskifest. Barosa/Vertical Bar at the Ramada Downtown Abu Dhabi are back with another Big Lebowski-themed bash on May 20th complete with 70s classics via a live band and house DJs, bowling and a slice of ‘that’ severed toe cake. Come in your dressing gown and prepare to drink way more White Russians than your stomach might be happy with.

*Try to finish paying my respects to the late legend, Prince. There have already been a couple tribute nights across Abu Dhabi and Dubai that I’ve missed, but it’s no surprise to me that other bars are giving me a second chance. Check out The Music Room in Dubai this Wednesday May 4th, or if you’re in Abu Dhabi, try to hold out until May 25th for another Prince shoutout and sendoff during Abu Dhabi Soul Edition 20 at Saadiyat Beach Club.

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Say a slow goodbye to the good weather with a rooftop bar toast. In fact, I’d particularly recommend you do it at swish new Latin American restaurant and rooftop bar BU! at The Hub, World Trade Center Mall. I can tick this one off, just did, quite fab, but I’ll be back again to properly dig into the menu too. How pretty is this place? And where can I order myself a light fixture that spells ‘Flesh’ please?