Sunday, August 11, 2013


The whole point of going to Dubai for the weekend, originally, was because we'd all bought tickets to go to Sandance. And although we wound up doing plenty that weekend, Sandance really was the culminating event.

A month or so before I flew out there, I'd seen that Florence + The Machine was slated to play Dubai. I saw F+TM open for U2 a couple of summers ago, and she is just as amazing in concert as she is produced. But not only that, she was appearing with a pretty fantastic line-up at Atlantis Dubai. 

Sandance is really an all-day event, but we went just for the night portion of it. Traffic getting out to Atlantis was pretty bad - it's located on the very outer ring of the Palm Island that Dubai is so famous for, and there is one way onto the island and one way off - a four lane highway/tunnel that was completely chock-a-block. We took cabs as far into the island as we could, and then managed to get out at Atlantis - but only because we happened to have a friend staying at the hotel. They don't let any other riff raff in, and the actual Sandance concert is located a half mile or so away on a beach. 


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Because we had a friend staying there, we were able to take an open-air little shuttle bus from the Atlantis grounds directly to Sandance. I'm not entirely sure how everyone else was expected to get there, but I'm told that for Sandances past, a lot of people wind up getting out of their cabs and walking the rest of the way.

I should also mention that it was about 90 degrees, at 9 o'clock at night, with about 80% humidity. Which was actually quite pleasant compared to what it could have been, believe it or not.

I think tickets were going for about $80 a person, and there were options to purchase tables (which come with varying levels of alcohol packages), but we opted for General Admission since we only went for the night portion. The dress, supposedly, was "beach attire" for daytime, but it seemed like everyone was barefoot in shorts or dresses. Also, I'm pretty sure Sandance might have been one big gathering for every ex-pat in the United Arab Emirates. Either that, or a looooot of people flew in from out of town for the event. Sponsored by Toyota, bee-tee-dubs.

The main stage. And 40 bajillion ex-pats.
Drinks were an interesting process. You could buy your drinks individually, standing in a long line and hassling for the bartender's attention, or you could purchase a party pack. Which consisted of this:

That's two bottles of vodka, cranberry juice, coke, and Red Bull. Kind of an excessive amount of sugary mixtures. 

So, basically, I drank vodka and cranberry all night. With some Red Bull.

Getting ready for the headliner!

And...there she is. (On the big screen.) Amazing. SHE IS AMAZING. AND PRETTY. AND AMAZING.
At some point, it was determined that our cooler of vodka and Red Bull was not going to be enough to sustain all of us, and so someone purchased a flat of Heineken. It did not take long for all drinks to disappear. At this point, I think we wondered if maybe the bottle service at the tables would have been a better choice.


The concert was pretty amazing, but to be honest, it was one of those large-scale festival-type concerts with a lot of highly intoxicated persons and so the music sort of took second stage. That also could have been because we didn't get there until late, when many of the younger and less-seasoned but more-voracious partiers had been there since like noon. Still, it was a pretty awesome time, the music was fantastic, and the port-a-potties had bidets in them. No lie.

The end of the night got a little hectic as the whole group somehow got separated, but we all made it back to the hotel in various ways. Some of us more efficiently than others (a network of buses and cabs took concert-goers back inland to Dubai, but there was some confusion about which bus was headed to which hotel, and blah blah blah), but we all made it back safely.

And thus ended #ballerweekend in Dubai. As spectacularly as it began.

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