Cocoon Lounge turns three this month. To celebrate, we caught up with Damian D’Costa, the man behind the magic
Time Out Bahrain staff
‘Four years ago when I worked at BJs as the resident DJ, we were taken on a staff night out to some of the unknown venues for a laugh by our management. One of these venues included a little bar/restaurant located at the entrance of the Best Western Hotel which was called Desert Rose. It held some extraordinary entertainment and a decor which was shockingly different. I fell in love with the space and went straight to the management the following week to see if this space would be available for a concept I had been designing in my head for years.
‘This concept was basically a lounge/bar where like-minded people would hang out for something to eat, a sociable after-work drink or late-night parties, surrounded by quality service and lounge tunes, progressing to some of the latest house music from around the world on a regular basis.
‘Luckily, the venue became available a few months after my approach and my concept was accepted by the management. It took us five months to execute the concept and Cocoon was born on August 1. A lot of money was injected into the project, and it was a breath of fresh air to the nightlife scene in Bahrain. One of the main reasons for its prolonged success is that we have been consistent and true to our concept and have not lost sight of our objectives and crowd control, even in difficult months.
‘Quality of service, food and international entertainment, which has been carefully hand-picked through the years, has been the core success, but also the belief in my concept by my partners has played a major role.
‘Cocoon means literally, the stage where a caterpillar turns into a butterfly... in our world, it is where extremely busy and stressed people turn into beautifully happy souls! Cocoon was designed as a feeling and not a visual impact. With the contemporary design and feel, it has been the benchmark for our company Gama Hotel Management and has led to the birth of Muju at Amwaj islands.
For the future, we hope to branch Cocoon out to venues around the world, especially around the Middle East. I have already held one Cocoon Lounge night in Ibiza.’
The five best nights of the last three years
Damian recalls the five nights that changed the way Bahrain parties
1 The opening night ‘This was not just any opening of a new night spot but the opening of a brand new concept, one I believed was desperately required in Bahrain. It was nerve-wracking as I didn’t know how people would react to it, but as the invited guests arrived, the amazed and happy looks on their faces made me realise that the evolution of Bahrain’s nightlife had begun.’
2 Halloween 2007 ‘I wanted to put some kind of class to the traditional Halloween night, so I created a masquerade party and called it Deception, which added a mysterious yet elegant ambience to the party. This was accepted with open arms and we had a packed-out night featuring the island’s best party people in attendance.’
3 The Blue Room Nights ‘The original idea behind Cocoon’s ambience was not only about club brands and House DJs, but also about live acts playing jazz and blues. Since I had a few friends who were also professional musicians, I decided to form a band called the Blue Room Band, where I took popular songs, toned them down with a jazz beat and bass line and invited them to freestyle over it with the original song in mind. This proved not only to be successful but also a lot of fun for all musicians involved. This led to Elham (the Bahrain art group) hosting an open Jazz Jam session, and since then Cocoon has been the host to some spectacular live jazz nights like Abri, Tom Teasley and 78 blues. As close as you’ll get to Ronnie Scott’s in London or Birdland in New York.’
4 Salvacion Ibiza ‘There have been several parties held on the island which have used the Ibiza name, but I decided to travel to Ibiza, meet the real promoters and DJs from there and tie up with the exclusive Salvacion brand which is the heart of local talent in Ibiza. I kicked things off by bringing the Café Mambo brand (one of Ibiza’s longest standing club/bars on Sunset Strip), and this led to Ibiza Reunion in 2008 and the brand new Republik Ibiza brand which is held at Space 2009/2010. These nights have put Bahrain in touch with the true club culture with the most popular party island of the world.’
5 Gorgeous Bahrain ‘This is a brand originating from Brighton UK and was tailored for Cocoon as Gorgeous Bahrain. We have had a great regular relationship with them for the past two years. They have sent some of their most talented DJs and artists – mostly female – and it is a very female-friendly brand which goes down extremely well at our Lipstick Lounge Ladies’ Nights every Wednesday and Friday. These have proved to be the most exciting party nights on the island. The artwork of their quality visuals say it all (check out www.cocoonlounge.net).’
And the worst night...
‘I always felt that sophisticated partying involved a good old dress-up and a retro feel, so I created Hairspray Fridays just over a year ago. This was a weekly ’70s and ’80s party and I wanted to create a weekly event to recreate the fashion and music from those decades. Even though there are a large number of party people who love that scene, it just never seemed to take off, which was disappointing. This was supposed to be a twist to the daily music scene in Bahrain, but just flopped. However, since I never give up, I have themed our private VIP 3rd year anniversary party as Cocoon’s Disco Birthday party, which will not only involve good old ’70s disco, but also wigs, hats, flares and the rest. I know you people want it!’
Cocoon’s birthday party
Not content with one birthday party, Cocoon Lounge will be celebrating over two nights
Wednesday August 4 Lipstick Lounge will take on a whole new meaning when Georgeous Bahrain DJ Vince Frimpong pumps up the volume and gets the party started
Thursday August 5 The main event, this ’70s-themed party requires wigs, bell bottoms, and a willingness to boogie like a young Travolta, or at least dress the part. 9pm-2am. For more information, visit www.cocoonlounge.net, join Cocoon Lounge Bahrain on Facebook or call 17 827 600