International News

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Dubai Bans Dancing & Loud Music

Authorities in Dubai issued a ‘code of conduct’ guide outlining ‘Appropriate Public Behavour’ this week, in which they officially banned ‘loud music and dancing in places like parks, beaches or residential areas’.

The guide included an offence and ‘penalty table’ warning that ‘vulgar language’, ‘alcohol consumption outside designated areas and  ‘public displays of affection’ (including hand holding between unmarried couples) can result in a fine or jail,

Skrufff contributor/ Dubai DJ-promoter Charl Chaka downplayed the significance of the new rules, pointing out ‘most of these rules are already in place so it’s not going to have such a huge impact.’

“You’re not allowed to kiss in public, for example, and people already know that. Not being allowed to hold hands is something new to me and I don’t know how they going to implement that rule. For now, though all the clubs are okay,” he suggested.

Charl’s assessment matched that of Western press agency Associated Press whose report on the guide concluded ‘it's highly unlikely any crackdown could spill over to Dubai's many resorts and nightclubs, where booze flows freely and the attire is the same as any tropical vacation spot.’

“For now, the rules appear aimed at one of Dubai's main tourist draws: the
mega-malls,” AP added.

Charl also confirmed that Dubai’s notoriously opulent club scene is coming under increasing pressure from the economic crash with apocryphal tales of thousands of expats abandoning cars at the airport to escape debts, true (one report said 2,500 were left at Terminal 111 in just 4 months).

“Yah, it’s definitely hit club land, the numbers are down and bar spend has gone down,” Charl told Skrufff.

“People are a lot more aware what they spending their money on and also how much they are spending on a drink. They are looking for value for their money.”

“At the end of the day this is not necessary a bad thing, as promoters are now looking for alternatives rather than booking international acts paying crazy fees,” Charl added, “Local DJs are being giving the opportunities now.”

In more Dubai news, British scaffolder Rik Lynn, from Radstock revealed he is facing a £20,000 legal bill this week after being released 5 months into a four year jail term he received for possessing 0.7 grams of cannabis at Dubai International Airport.

Mr Lynn told UK website that the tiny amount of cannabis had been found in a bag he’d unwisely borrowed from a friend, as he flew into the Gulf State to visit his sister for a one week holiday last December.

"They carried out a full body search, and that was fine because I had nothing on me. I had no worries and when the guard looked in the pocket of the holdall and on the end of his finger produced what I thought I was dust, I was not concerned,” he said, describing moment he was detained.

"The guard kept saying 'drugs, drugs' and I said 'you are having a laugh, aren't you',” he recalled. (Dubai Executive Council’s list of the Appropriate Public Behavior . . .:  ‘Whistling, Loud conversations and laughter should be avoided. Spreading or circulating false roomers, news’s or jokes that harasses public security, peacefulness and health will be punishable . . .’)

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Fisherspooner- Life Begins At 40

Fisherspooner frontman Casey Spooner chatted to Skrufff this week about the pioneering electroclash band’s upcoming album Entertainment and revealed that’s he’s as happy now as he’s been at any point in his career.

“I’m turning 40 next year it’s good,” said Casey, “I feel strong, stronger. I’ve been around the block and I now know. I’ve done it. I’ve been on the top and I’ve been at the bottom, I’ve been all around,” he mused.

“I think at this stage you learn what’s important and how to relate to people better. I just want to trust my instincts now, in a funny way, whereas before I was never sure on what to do or how to do it. You know yourself better,” he said.

“Looking back I think our first live performance as Fischerspooner was exciting, a kind of personal breakthrough for me,” he recalled.

“I had been struggling for years as a performer and as an artist to find some kind of art form that I could really be expressive with, that would embrace all of my interests and all of my skills. I tried to be a painter, a photographer, an actor, a model, it was like nothing really clicked until this project, then, all of a sudden I could create images, be a performer and have all of my interest combined into this one thing,” he said.

However, Casey remained less enthusiastic about the press attention Fischerspooner gained when their million pound Ministry Of Sound record deal was leaked to the press, by a fellow loose talking electroclash star.

“Later on it became very hard for us to live down that number, it was something that really changed people’s perception of us. It sounds like a lot more money that it ever was, because once you break it down . . ,” Casey sighed.

“In a way I didn’t mind, because I liked the fact that we created this fantasy of rising out from nothing and all the parallels with the Sex Pistols and the Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, being the most bizarre pop phenomenon and so on, but the fact remains that I didn’t have a choice about that story coming out.”

“And probably I would have kept it quiet if left to my own devices. It still haunts us. This time around, when we asked some people to work with us they refused because of the history of that deal, because they felt that we were going to expect a lot; that we were going to be expensive,” he added.

Fischerspooner launch their new album Entertainement at Londons Corenet Theatre on May 1st, performing alongside Autokratz, Sebastian and  Al Doyle from Hot Chip).

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Superstar DJs- Crisis, What Crisis?

The Independent newspaper focused on the gigantic New Years Eve 2,000 fees many top DJs received in a review of new club culture book ‘When DJs Ruled The World’ this week and revealed that five figure sums were common.

While Pete Tong got £125,000, Judge Jules £100,000 (‘’The most I've ever charged by a factor of five’, said Jules) and Jeremy Healy £80,000, Danny Rampling received £50,000 for spinning at the River Club in Cape Town, South Africa.

"Everyone had been offered ridiculous amounts of money, ridiculous, inflated amounts of money, as if it was going to be the last night on earth,” Danny told author (and former Mixmag editor) Dom Philips. “That was the last days of Rome, in a sense. It was one last payday of the superstar DJ era,” he said.

The book’s premise that the Millennium represented superstar DJs’ financial peak was brushed off effortlessly by Tiesto, however, this week as the Dutch multi-millionaire star flew into Dubai for another massive payday.

Chatting candidly about his treatment there (‘I get pampered and I always stay in an amazing hotel’) he also spoke enthusiastically about business deals with Armani and his own new DJing company Unlimited Productions, putting on big buck tours for fellow DJs (‘you can call it a vertical investment’, Tiesto said). (Business24-7, AE)

“I don't agree that the era of the DJ is fading,” he added.

“If DJs are fading, then I think it will happen slowly over the next 100 years. I think it's easier for DJs to tour. We can do live or semi-live sets, we can mix tracks. Plus, I can do a gig every night and I don't have to play the same set, whereas bands are stuck with a certain set-list. Even bands who have had 10 albums will still be stuck with a set-list. I think those who claim that really do not know what a DJ does. They don't realise that DJs play their own tracks and can create something new,” he said.

Italian upcoming techno genius Dusty Kid, who plays his own electronic music live instead of DJing, saw things differently, he told Skrufff this week.

“I’m not a DJ personally which means I don’t work in the same way as a DJ. I also prefer to make ‘songs’ as opposed to ‘tracks’.” he pointed out.

“As far as DJing is concerned, everybody is a DJ right now but I prefer to make and play my own music rather than spinning other artist’s tracks. I think within 5 years most DJs will effectively be playing live sets,” he predicted.

Dusty Kid, who launches his debut album A Raver’s Diary at Tresor in April, chatted cheerfully about dreaming about being a techno/ pop star to Skrufff last year, and confirmed he remains equally ambitious.

“I'm still attracted by the pop music world, sure and I'm still writing pop songs and still hoping and dreaming that one day I can work with some of the artists I’ve been listening to for years. I’m thinking about Coldplay and Madonna,” he said.

Dusty Kid’s debut album A Raver’s Diary is out shortly. He debuts the album at Berlin’s Tresor on April 24. Danny Rampling spins at Smartie Parties’ Turnmills Reunion @ the Scala, Saturday March 14.

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Credit Crunch Crisis Kills Snowboard Festival

Organisers of Austrian indie/ dance festival Snowside blamed ‘circumstances beyond their control’ this week for scuppering what would have been their first event.

The 6 day Alpine festival promised an impressive line up of alternative DJs including Vitalic, Radio 1 star Kissy Sell Out and Secretsundaze’ James Priestly, and aimed to sell just 1,000 tickets.

“Due to certain unforeseen factors including the current economic climate, the pound-euro exchange rate resulting in rising costs, the knock on effect is that ticket sales have been too low,” Snowside festival chief Rupert Wood said in a statement.

“All these factors combined have contributed towards us at Snowside having to make this very difficult decision,” he added.

Snowside’s collapse came 3 weeks after Scottish indie rock festival Hydro postponed their upcoming summer event to 2010 and followed similar failures for high profile boutique festivals Wild In The Country and Wax:On Live last summer.

Speaking 10 days before his Leeds event was due to take place for the first time, Wax:On Live boss Dan Blackledge issued a relatively bullish statement announcing the cancellation.

“The festival fell victim not to poor ticket sales or lack of support and dedication, but to the credit crunch that has the UK in the grip of an economic stranglehold,” he said.

“On forming the company there were two streams of investment scheduled in order to ensure the event was viable in year one,” he added, “This morning we have been informed that due to circumstances in the global financial market place and its knock on effect, the event has become unsustainable.”

Renaissance spin off Wild In The Country, which boasted guests including Bjork, Soulwax, Richie Hawtin and Carl Craig, also cancelled last minute last July, blaming the withdrawal of a ‘key investor’.

“Wild in the Country has become the latest in a series of festivals that have suffered from a unique and well-documented set of market forces this summer,” the organisers said.

"This is a very sad conclusion to our passionate efforts to develop an interesting and credible addition to the UK festival market,” they added.

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ImageSkrufff DJ Fidelity Kastrow has teamed up with Tresor to work on DJ bookings and also to be a headline resident DJ at the legendary Berlin club.

The Berlin based electro-techno DJ will be spinning in the main (Globus) room once a month from April and is already helping plan future line-ups as the club enters a new phase of development, said Tresor chief Dimitri Hegemann.

“I first came across Fidelity following a tip from renowned talent spotter Mark Reeder, who back in the day discovered Paul Van Dyk, Cosmic Baby, Ellen Allien and countless others,” Dimitri told Skrufff.

"We do not have a dance floor, and that makes a huge difference. It's more about table service, sitting, more about entertainment, production, aerialists, and performers,"

I'm not sure last time Mark Baker was here but we actually have tables and aerialists too (laughing), Pacha is a real nightclub with a dance floor.”

speaking to Steven Lewis before Xmas you said bottle service is 'becoming scarce because there are less people to pick from. There are less people who are spending frivolously': what impact is the decline of bottle service having on Pacha; and the new York club scene?

Bottle service certainly isn't what it used to be. A good client would come in every week. Now you may see them two times a month. Some people will still come but not hire a table. Either way it has had an effect on all clubs. Our VIP's come from all over we get a lot of Euros and South Americans (Brazil/Columbia/Venezuela). They have been hit with the economic downturn as well and aren't traveling so much.

: writing about bottle service in january 2007 British newspaper the Guardian described 'an invasion of besuited hedge-fund managers' being the main bottle service customers: are many   of them still coming to the club? what kind of mood are they in?

We still attract a lot of hedge fund VIPs as well, let's just say they aren't spending like they used too.”


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Pacha New York’s Wet Weather Woes

Pacha New York chief Eddie Dean chatted to Skrufff this week about the impact of the credit crunch and revealed that the Manhattan superclub is increasingly cutting DJ fees to balance the books.

“DJ' fees are really coming under scrutiny,” Eddie confirmed.

“Certain DJ's that have a proven track record can still demand a good price but other DJs either have to come down or you have to pass because you just can't afford to pay them based on their history. In the past you could say, ‘well, we can pay the extra 5k (US$5,000) because we know we will be packed out’. Now, that isn't always the case. You have to be very cautious, if you misjudge a DJ's value you could get hurt.”

“In New York City the weather is a factor too,” Eddie continued,  “We have had seven weekends in a row where it has been raining, snowing or brutally cold. That’s made a difference,” he said.

However he was much more relaxed about the recent opening of Ministry Of Sound’s first ever club in New York following bullishly competitive comments
from Ministry boss Mark Baker in a recent interview.

Speaking to Blackbook’s Steven Lewis (a legendary New York promoter who previously worked for clubs including Limelight and Danceteria), Baker declared ‘we do not have a dance floor, and that makes a huge difference. It's more about table service, sitting, more about entertainment, production, aerialists, and performers’, prompting much amusement from Eddie.

“I'm not sure of the last time Mark Baker was here but we actually have tables and aerialists too,” he chuckled, “Though admittedly we do have a dance floor.”

He also conceded that bottle service, the practise popular with rich bankers who’d pay thousands of dollars for bottles of spirits and private tables, ‘certainly isn't what it used to be’.

“Up until quite recently a good client would come in every week, now you may see them two times a month. Some people will still come but no longer hire a table. Either way it has had an effect on all clubs in New York,” he said. “Our VIPs come from all over, we get a lot of Euros and South Americans (Brazil/Columbia/Venezuela) and they have all been hit with the economic downturn as well and aren't traveling so much. We still attract a lot of hedge fund VIPs as well, let's just say they aren't spending like they used too,” he added.

“Is recession good for nightlife? Only time will tell,” he mused, “A place like Pacha has to work very hard to overcome the economic downturn and that’s what we’re doing, we’re working our butts off because people have high expectations when they come here. We have to make sure they have an amazing experience,” he said.

“And as far as Ministry Of Sound opening in New York is concerned, I think it is good for the overall dance scene. It will be interesting to see if their style will translate here,” he added.

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ImageIsan Oral, the owner of hotly anticipated new Berlin club venue Dice, chatted to Skrufff this week about his imminent launch plans and revealed he’ll be taking a step by step approach to opening up the former power station.

“Our vision for Dice is to combine an understated, industrial concrete style, one that’s not too chic, with high design features to find our own identity,” said Isan. “We don’t want to be a second Berghain or a second Tresor or E Werk, whatever, we want to offer Berlin a new unique clubbing experience. Although this building is a former power station it’s very different, because the rooms are a lot smaller, plus we have a roof terrace for the summer.”

Ministry Of Sound Open ‘Mature’ New York Club

Promoters behind Ministry Of Sound’s new New York weekly night at Mansion (the venue that was formerly Crobar and has just been renamed M2) have revealed that they’ll be prioritising bottle service over dancing, to differentiate themselves from rival superclub Pacha New York.

“We do not have a dance floor, and that makes a huge difference. It’s more about table service, sitting, more about entertainment, production, aerialists, and performers,” Mansion chief Mark Baker told Blackbook writer Stephen Lewis.

“I also think that the average age of our client here is slightly older than they have at Pacha. Pacha is definitely a legitimate DJ-driven music venue,” he added.

In a follow up article, Baker described Pacha’s musical direction as ‘harder, younger . . . tribal, progressive, trance’ and promised that Ministry’s sound will be ‘a lot more vocal driven, a lot house-ier and a lot sexier’.

Whether that stretches to the music of Scottish pop rockers Franz Ferdinand remains unclear though frontman Alex Kapranos staked his claim this week in a bizarre interview about the band’s (decidedly indie-pop) album ‘Tonight’ with the Sun

“We wanted these songs to make people feel sexy and dirty. Guitar music hasn’t been sexual enough lately,” Kapranos told the British tabloid, “Being in a club is as close to sex as you get outside the bedroom- you’re sweaty, you’re moving your body up close to other gyrating bodies,” he gushed.

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Noise Petition Threat Non-Existent

An online petition which suggested UK authorities were planning to introduce compulsory noise limiters in clubs was revealed to be bogus this week, by the musician who launched it Warren James.

The 26 year old guitarist grudgingly admitted he started his petition last summer after hearing rumours ‘from countless associates in the music business’ though was unapologetic, despite sparking a massive viral campaign.

“It may appear that I jumped without thinking when I made the Downing Street
Petition, however, by doing this quickly and promptly it allowed people to voice their opinion good and early. Very often it is too late by the time our voice gets heard the damage has been done,” he suggested,

“I am pleased I got in there quickly, even if ultimately nothing was achieved because nothing actually happened in the end,” James added, “Let us not forget that THIS IS A GOOD THING,” he said.

“Don't trust a word this bastard government says,” Jagz Kooner agreed in an email to Skrufff, “Better safe than sorry.” (Warren James’ statement in full)

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