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Inside Dubai's best bars: Simon Hammerstein on Dubai nightlife
Simon Hammerstein’s lineage is rich in theatrical history, stretching as far back as the vaudeville days and helping to create such timeless musicals as Oklahoma! and The Sound of Music. But Mr. Hammerstein’s foray into the family business has been a bit more colourful and controversial than his ancestors. His concept theatre club, The Act in Dubai, is still going strong after its highly anticipated opening in 2013. We caught up with Simon to find out a little more about his venture and the Dubai nightlife scene.
Dubai, culturally speaking, is far more conservative than cities like New York, Las Vegas or London, where you’ve opened previous dinner theatres. What challenges have you faced operating in this city given your penchant for raucous entertainment?
“We have to respect local culture in Dubai but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t pushed the boundaries a little. Our creative director has put together some amazing shows for the city, which included flying acts in from all over the world.”
What made you think Dubai might be a great place for your brand to begin with?
“I had visited Dubai a few times before deciding to open a concept here. The people are great and with Dubai’s fantastic nightlife scene, I thought it would fit in perfectly!”
What is it about your establishments that draw in celebrities? What are you doing right?
“Even celebs like to let their hair down every once and a while. We treat every night like it’s our opening night with a diverse crowd, ability to give privacy and amazing performers. I guess that is why we attract the A-listers.”
Aside from the rich and famous, what type of person is attracted to a Simon Hammerstein theatre?
“Anyone who appreciates good food, good acts and a fun night out!”
Why have you chosen to feature Peruvian food on the menu at The Act?
“Peruvian food is all based around sharing, which was the concept we wanted to bring to The Act Dubai. Peruvian food is light but delicious and perfect for a late night dinner.”
You’ve had plenty of experience as an entrepreneur. What’s the most important lesson you’ve taken from it all?
“If you want it badly enough, it will happen.”
Your establishments are scattered all over the globe. Where are you spending most of your time these days and why?
“I travel a lot. For now, I am based in the US but I’m always on the lookout for new locations along with visiting the ones I already have.”
Interview by Jimmy Dawson