It’s December! Which means parties, presents and brunches
Time Out Bahrain Staff
Where to dance this December
It’s the festive season, and Bahrain will be doing what it does best – getting into the groove. Here’s where to head to get into the festive spirit.
If there is one thing Bahrain knows how to do well, it’s partying. Whether it’s National Day, Christmas, New Year, or just the weekend, thousands of people flock to Bahrain for the chance to let loose and dance their socks off at some of the best clubs in the region. In the most festive month of the year, we bring you a comprehensive guide to the best parties in Bahrain this month.
Red Bull Music Academy Info Session with Hasan Hujairi Sponsored by Red Bull, the Academy was formed to give rising musical stars their first foot on the rung of the ladder to success, with those selected offered fortnight-long terms at the Academy in Europe. The Info session will introduce the Academy and tell you what you need to do to get there. Coral Beach Club, 17 312 700.
The Lipstick Lounge presents Victor Simonelli Victor Simonelli, producer, song writer, record label owner, and highly-sought-after DJ is one of New York’s finest and most prolific character’s and an early pioneer of the vibrant NYC underground dance music movement. Cocoon Lounge, 17 827 600.
December 1, 2, 8 & 9
Shared Christmas Wonderland Parties The Diplomat Radisson is traditionally the place to beat when it comes to Christmas parties, and this year will be no exception. Overlooking Bahrain’s skyline, the DJ of Skylight will be rocking the top off this building with all the great Christmas classics. Fancy dress optional, good cheer essential. Diplomat Radisson, 17 531 666.
Future Disco Bud Music Live will kick off at 5pm, after which the massive Coral Beach night Future Disco will be back. Featuring Bonar Bradberry of PBR Streetgang, the night is likely to be the cherry on the cake to what looks set to be one of the best Bud Music Live events in history. Coral Beach Club, 39 649 590.
The Lipstick Lounge presents Laura Love Currently resident at Hed Kandi and Ministry of Sound in Egypt, Laura Love has been rocking the Arab world for some time now. On December 3, she brings her unique blend of funk, electro and house to Bahrain, for one night only. Cocoon Lounge, 17 827 600.
Lipstick Lounge presents House Couture with Rosie Romero Manchester legend Rosie Romero has sprung onto the international scene from a classical background, and was nurtured by the world famous super club Sankeys. Cocoon Lounge, 17 827 600.
Holly Hattitude As the crux of the festivities come to a head, Cocoon Lounge decks its hall with holly to round off the year with a special edition of the hedonistic hat party. Cocoon Lounge, 17 827 600.
Likwid Reunion (Part 1) with Kenny Hawkes One of the biggest parties this year will be held at Coral Beach Club, where Likwid Productions will fly in the legendary DJ Kenny Hawkes for the biggest night before Christmas. Coral Beach Club, 39 649 590.
Christmas Delicious presents Salvacion Ibiza, Republik with Damian D’Costa Cocoon Lounge’s very own Damian D’Costa take to the decks as the biggest party in Bahrain on Christmas Eve kicks off with a night in association with the Ibiza super club brand Salvacion. Cocoon Lounge, 17 827 600.
In House with DJ Dave Hayes Can’t wait for NYE? Cocoon Lounge will be entertaining the hardcore party crowd for a warm-up to the big night with resident DJ Dave Hayes. Cocoon Lounge, 17 827 600.
The best NYE parties
Bond Ball: Best known for its raucous Friday brunch, the Diplomat Radisson will be hosting a 007-themed party at the Grand Ambassador Suite. Tickets cost BD85, with the party kicking off at 8pm. Reservations: 17 531 666.
Bushido: One of Bahrain’s top night spots, has a set menu downstairs for BD75, and a canapé menu upstairs for BD50, along with some cracking Buddha Bar DJs. Reservations: 17 583 555.
Cafe Mambo Ibiza: One of Ibiza’s biggest brands is coming to Bahrain, rocking Muju from 8pm-2pm. Weekend packages available at the hotel. Reservations: 36 969 168.
Hard Drive: High octane covers band Hard Drive will be hailing in the new year at the ever popular JJ’s. Reservations: 17 742 323.
Lunar Fest: Al Dar Islands will once again host one of the biggest beach parties in the region, with fire jugglers, camping options and an impressive DJ line-up. Reservations: 17 704 600.
Mardi Gras Ball: This Mardi Gras-themed party at the Crowne Plaza will bring a carnival atmosphere to the year’s biggest party. For BD70, you’ll get a buffet, beverages and live entertainment all night. Reservations: 17 531 122.
Mercure Grand: New Year’s Eve at the Mercure means a buffet and belly dancer in Neyran. The party will continue in Casa Lounge, where another belly dancer will strut her stuff until 2am. Dinner costs BD30 per person, or BD50 for couples. Reservations: 17 584 400.
Ritz Ball:The Ritz-Carlton’s annual NYE party is a black tie affair in the sumptuous ballroom. All diners in the restaurants can join the party free of charge. Reservations: 17 586 499.
Shiny Disco Ball: No pretension, no frills, just shiny disco balls at the hugely popular Cocoon Lounge this NYE. Reservations: 17 827 600. Winter Wonderland:Coral Beach Club will be giving the biggest night of the year a winter theme this NYE, with a Hed Kandi line-up and a host of big names in residence. Reservations: 17 312 700.
Organise your own
Not tempted by any of the parties on offer? Murray Garrard caught up with one of Bahrain’s best party organisers, Ruth Dancer, to get some tips on organising your own bash this festive season.
You’re an international party organiser. How long have you been organising events around the world? Twelve years. My first job was helping to organise stag and hen dos at an outdoor water sport centre in the UK. Sports have always featured in my events in some form, from Wembley Stadium to Wimbledon to Formula 1. More recently I have expanded into private parties, launches and weddings.
What’s the best party you have ever helped to organise and why? That’s a really tough one. I actually love to do the smaller more personal events, and the first wedding I ever did for someone will always be very special because people entrust you with the most important day of their life. But opening Wembley Stadium for the FA Cup Final in 2007 has to be up there as one of the most memorable occasions of my life, and an unforgettable career highlight. With the eyes of the world watching you (not to mention 17,000 VIP guests) you can’t help but feel incredibly honoured.
What was the biggest flop? Why didn’t it work? Ha ha, no one ever likes to talk about their flops! But ok, I have to say the champagne reception at the FA Headquarters for the Champions League was a particular nightmare – we had been entrusted with the FA Cup trophy for our guests to have the photograph taken with. A couple of the guests got a little over-excited and dropped the lid, causing it to bend over at right angles – less than a week before the FA Cup Final. I went a very special shade of white to say the least!
What three elements are essential for a great party? It depends on the type of party, because of course you can have cultural restrictions on music and other elements to the evening. But generally speaking I would say the three things that combine to make the right atmosphere are guests, music and decoration. You can make any venue work, but without those three ingredients working together, you just won’t get the right vibe.
What always ruins a party? Definitely choosing the wrong music. I had a situation once when the DJ simply couldn’t read the crowd, so even though the guests were all up for a great night and the room looked brilliant, no one could relax and have fun because the atmosphere was all wrong – we had to put the house DJ back on to get things back on track.
So how do you make sure you don’t make a massive music faux pas? Easy, know your crowd. It’s not good enough for a DJ to make grand claims to having played in Ibiza or for a specific brand, that doesn’t automatically mean they will be right for the crowd. There is a difference between what people think is on trend, and what they actually enjoy. A great DJ can tell the difference and tell you what you like even if you don’t admit it or realise it yourself! Of course it isn’t all about DJs, you can break a party up with live music, and create different stages to the evening by moving from a saxophonist to a DJ, then to a DJ with live singing and ending on a pianist with a late night lounge feel. Anything is possible, you just have to think about the flow of the evening, and don’t try to ‘be cool’ it won’t work.
You are the queen of guest-lists and are notorious for turning away people who aren’t up to scratch or don’t look the part. Should people employ the ‘invite everyone you know’ approach and risk the entire island turning up? Or should they maintain a strict invite-only policy and risk partying alone? No matter whether you want a party for 50 or 5,000, you always have to make people feel as though they have been specially invited because they are part of that scene. If you want them to turn up, don’t notify people, invite them. The right combination of guests creates the right atmosphere, a good female to male ratio is usually important, and you can’t guarantee that if you just casually invite everyone and hope the right people come. The invitation is the start of the experience, don’t ruin it with a bulk email, Facebook, ASW message.
Bahrain has its assets, but also its limitations. What should people relatively new to Bahrain be aware of when organising a party? In terms of what you have to work with, always think about the basics of logistics – for instance where are people going to park? If the guests have had to fight their way in, you have a long way to go to get them back on side. Remember, there aren’t that many people on the island as compared with the likes of London, so unless you are teaming your event up with an international event with lots of visitors coming over, you can’t expect to see an array of new faces who will revolutionise your night – you have to create the difference for them, not the other way round. Ruth Dancer divides her time between Bahrain and London, and is one of the region’s foremost party organisers. For more information, visit www.ruthdancerinternational.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ruth’s top tips for organising a party at home
1 I always say that when you organise any event, imagine yourself as a guest and what you would like to see and experience at the party
2 Make sure you have adequate facilities set up, whether it be fully stocked bathrooms, fridge space for drinks or somewhere to park. Don’t make things difficult for your guests. It should all be laid out for them.
3 Think about your music. Don’t blast your guests into the other side of the street with excessively loud music. People need to be able to speak to one another as well as dance, so keep rooms divided up and make sure the music doesn’t spill too much between them.
4 As much as possible, try to greet your guests at the door, or have someone else do it. Walking into a party in full swing can be great for seasoned party goers, but nerve-wracking for other guests, so you should make sure you make everyone feel welcome.
5 Last but not least, remove and breakables! You want to enjoy your party as much as your guests and you won’t relax with Grandma’s vase precariously balanced on a hall shelf.
The best of the brunch
Don’t fancy stuffing the turkey this year? Then head out to one of Bahrain’s family friendly Christmas day brunches. We list the best in town.
Crowne Plaza: The Crowne Plaza’s Absolutly Festive Brunch, which runs on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day, offers a family friendly day that promises to thrill both adults and children. With a massive spread across the hotel’s three great restaurants, the Crowne Plaza staff choir performing all the Christmas classics and a kids’ corner replete with Santa, a magician and a face painter, this is not to be missed. BD25++, BD12.5++ for children. For reservations, call 17 531 122.
Mercure Grand: It might be Christmas, but not everyone wants to be smothered by Santa and sing about a red-nosed rodent. The Mercure Grand Hotel in Seef is one of the few hotels in town in which the decor is resolutely Arabic in style. On Christmas Eve between 6pm and 11pm, their restaurant Neyran will be putting on one of their famous buffet spreads, while guests will be beguiled by a belly dancer. BD10++ including soft beverages. For reservations, call 17 584 406.
Mövenpick: If you think you’re going to be craving something continental this Christmas, head to the passionately Swiss Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain, where they will be doing their best to recreate the Alps in Muharraq. While Santa dispenses presents to the kids, you can make sure you tuck into the turkey in peace. Christmas carols and a cookie bake are all on the cards for afters. BD29++. For reservations, call 17 460 000.
Muju: With a back-to-back Christmas mistletoe brunch on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, a live Latin band will be jazzing up those in Amwaj over the festive period, with the usual high class spread and unlimited selected beverages. The deal is a snip at BD20++ per person. For reservations, call 16 039 800.
Ritz-Carlton: Something of a favourite when it comes to brunching, The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain rarely disappoints when serving up special occasions. A carving corner, seafood side and a prime rib patch will all be there to tempt you, while you can pass the kids off onto the magicians and clowns. Rest assured you’ll roll out stuffed. BD30++. For reservations, call 17 586 499.
Royal Golf Club: Last year Christmas Day at the Royal Golf Club’s Links was a treat. This year, there’s a menu for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Enjoy a four-course meal on Christmas Eve, BD24 (BD21.5 for members), and a massive carvery spread on Christmas Day BD22 (BD19 for members). On the golf course, enjoy all day tee times on December 24, with a 7.30am shotgun start on Christmas Day. Lots of activities for kids throughout. For reservations, call 17 750 777.
Takeout turkey And if you want to stay at home for Christmas, but are turned off by the idea of turfing a turkey out of the freezer and into the oven, The Marriott Executive Apartments in Juffair is doing a Takeout Turkey. six kg-worth of bird and condiments, including veg, stuffing and gravy for BD50 (BD40 without condiments), means you can pick it up and pass it off as your own to your in-laws. To order, call 17 363 999.
Festivities for the kids
Bahrain is as kid-friendly as you can get, but finding festive options for the nippers can be a challenge. So we do it for you...
Fancy singing a few carols, dropping a couple of mince pies and fibbing to Santa that you’ve been good all year? Then you’ll want to keep your diary clear for the following:
December 2-25 Tea with Santa Lobby Lounge, Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain Hotel: Who said afternoon tea was only for grown-ups? Tea at the Ritz is taking on a distinctly festive flavour with Santa paying a visit to this time-honoured tradition each day at 3pm. More info, call 17 580 000.
December 6 Lighting up the Christmas Tree Hotel Lobby, Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence & Spa: The lighting up of the Christmas tree in the Diplomat Radisson has traditionally marked the start of the festivities in Bahrain. Gather at 7.30pm and listen to the very diplomatic Reindeer Choir. More info, call 17 531 666
December 19-25 Christmas Carolers Cappuccinos Coffee Shop, Crowne Plaza lobby: Don’t fancy belting out ‘Jingle Bells’ yourself? Then come and listen to the Crowne Plaza Choir. Mince pies available from the coffee shop to put you in the Christmas spirit. More info, call 17 531 122.
December 21-24 Christmas Carols Hotel Lobby, Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence & Spa: The Reindeer Choir will be carol singing each night from 7.30pm. Kids welcome, though those who are tone deaf are asked to lip-sync. More info, call 17 531 666.
Keeping kids happy is a thankless task, and one that takes the best part of a lifetime to master. The easier option is to hire someone to do the hard work for you. Rosy Moorhead chats to Emma Salari, founder and manager of Silly Billy Party Games & Supplies for tips.
On your website you describe yourselves as ‘eventologists’. What is that? We’re not just about kids’ parties. We do the usual events like face-painting and crafts and games, but there are games that we manufacture and make ourselves. We always have to come up with new ideas to keep people interested. Like with arts and crafts, we have to keep them fun and entertaining, rarely do we have just paper crafts, it’s all different types of material.
What are some of the services you offer? A lot! Everything to do with entertainment. DJs, entertainers, projectors, face-painting, hair-braiding, performers. We have bouncy castles, big item games like Jenga!, carnival games, electric rides, popcorn and candy machines.
Which are the most popular? It depends. If it’s for a birthday party, the main thing they ask for is entertainers, face-painting and clowns, those three are the most popular. We also do school carnivals, even events for companies – for banks, for telecommunications, adults and children. For Zain, we provided salsa dancers and hip hop dancers and jugglers. All our performers are based here in Bahrain. But for the kids’ parties, it’s the entertainers, balloon-making, magicians, games.
If people hire Silly Billy, what can they expect? We can organise the whole party, decorations and everything. The only thing we don’t usually go into is the venue and the catering, because with most venues you have to use their catering. But everything else related to the event, we can do. For example, we organise desert camps – we take care of the camp, the DJs, the location, the decorations, the games, the whole thing. But mainly for birthday parties, clients just want us to provide smaller parts of the event, like a popcorn machine or the entertainment.
What are the best and worst things about the job? The worst thing is that people stress out a lot. The parents or the organisers. They call you ten thousand times to reconfirm, but we’ve done this a million times! We tell them not to worry, we know what we’re doing. And often they don’t want to pay for extra things that they use. For example, they pay for two hours but they start an hour late and want us to stay later. And things that you can’t control, like the weather. The best part is just partying, being with the kids. When you do something that makes them happy it just brings such joy to their faces. Although you do get kids crying when they don’t win one of the games, or they’re scared of the clown! But usually they’re happy!
What are your top tips for keeping kids happy when you’re throwing a party? We’ve found that a lot of people want a lot of stuff but they don’t want to pay for it, but that’s just not going to work. The best parties have music, a DJ, a good sound system, a microphone and an entertainer. If you don’t have the sound system and microphone, the entertainer has to shout and if she’s not heard by the children, they won’t understand the game so they won’t enjoy it as much, and they lose interest. The music always keeps their interest, and the microphone has a strong appeal as well. My advice is: don’t scrimp. If you want a fun party, take the advice of the person organising it for you, because they know what works and what will work for you.
What games are always a hit with the kids? The clowns’ balloon-twisting and being silly and dancing. The games that kids love a lot are the sack race, tug-of-war, the very young kids love bubbles, we leave the machine on and they just go for hours and hours popping them! One of the games that the kids like but the adults don’t is The Longest Breath – how long you can say Happy Birthdayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy on the microphone. They love that game but it’s so annoying for adults! And there’s Musical Statues, Musical Chairs, all of those are still popular. For more information, visit www.sillybillybh.com or call Emma on 39 636 737.
It’s a wrap
We catch up with Leena Al Sabbagh from the wrapping retailer Yellowmoon to get some tips on presentation.
Choosing the right present can be a nightmare. What makes a great present? Anything from the heart, I know that might sound cliched, but it’s the truth. Gift giving is a universal language and regardless of your age, gender, religion, background, everyone wants, understands and appreciates the simple gesture of giving and receiving a gift.
Older men are traditionally the hardest people to buy good presents for. Do you have any suggestions? Ah, this is a classic dilemma many experience, men are simple, logically, yet so difficult to get a gift for. We would suggest traditional items such as shirts, cologne, a leather journal, pen or even something in terms of electronic gadgets. Personally, I can never go wrong with fashion accessories such as ties, cufflinks and believe it or not socks! The key is to make sure it can be exchangeable. A sentimental gift would be to scan some prized black and white photos and get them nicely framed.
Some people are organised, and buy presents months before. Others are last minute shoppers. When is the ideal time to buy a present? What’s great about shopping today is that there are great deals almost all year round, so whether you are a planner or the last minute shopper you can always find the latest fashions and trends available in Bahrain. I would advise you to plan your shopping beforehand, but if you can’t, dedicate sometime early in the morning when the stores first open, that way you will not get distracted and have time to talk with sales people and get inspired by the display.
Most people tend to shy away from buying clothes as gifts. Are some clothes safer presents than others? Clothes are great gifts! Getting the right size is the tricky part, but almost all retailers have great exchange policies if you are buying gifts. Many people wrap tops, sweaters and shirts as they are classic pieces and it’s easier to figure out the size when compared to trousers or shoes. If you’re completely stuck I would recommend you buy a shawl/tie as an accessory and maybe wrap it with voucher from the same shop.
Vouchers or gifts? What’s the trend these days? They are easy and quick gift solutions. But I would underline, if you are going to give anyone vouchers or money, make sure it is done in a very tasteful manner, meaning putting the vouchers in a nice envelope that you can decorate yourself or even placed in a nicely wrapped box.
How can you spend only a little, but look like you have spent a lot? It’s all in the wrapping! Presentation is key, think about it. We do it all the time with our own appearance, our clothes and accessories might not cost a lot, but we definitely look and feel like a million dollars. The same goes with gifts, it is a extension of you!
Yellowmoon is the Bahrain’s leading wrapping retailer. Can you give us a step-by-step guide to wrapping presents well? • Keep the wrapping clean and simple, and the paper aligned
• The tape should be hidden, a great tip would be to use double-sided tape
• Put the present in a bag with some tissue paper, and this is something you can easily do yourself
• Never send a gift without a card! Shame on you!
• Deliver the gift with a smile, or surprise the recipient with a hand-delivered gift via a courier service Yellowmoon, a subsidiary of PAPERMOON, is now open in Bahrain City Centre. If you want help wrapping your present, head to the store and one of the trained members of staff will wrap your present for you! For more information, call 17 581 090.