x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

A killer Sandance

With upcoming performances by The Killers, Of Monsters and Men and The Wailers, Sandance continues to grow while retaining its original fans.

The Killers will headline at Sandance. AP Photo
The Killers will headline at Sandance. AP Photo

The idea

It’s all about that picturesque strip of beach behind the luxury hotel. The Atlantis vice president for entertainment and marketing manager, Dima Ayad, recalls the first festival in 2010, launched to boost usage of Atlantis Beach. “At the time it was used for private functions, weddings and birthdays,” she says. “We really wanted to leverage it more and use it for the whole season.” With Atlantis branding itself as a “destination within a destination” Ayad explains that any new beach developments would have to be done on a grand scale. A beach party was not good enough; it had to be a music festival.

The early days

The Dubai-based event company Think nabbed the contract to design the concept. The managing partner Greg Dufton brought with him a wealth of local knowledge, having formerly managed Dubai’s Chi at the Lodge. That first instalment featured DJ sets by Armand Van Helden, Ronin & Nesta and Zero 7 and a live performance by Chicane.

The growth

Until Sandance arrived, large-scale concerts had only been sporadic. “I could claim we were the first or one of the first to put on shows of such magnitude regularly,” says Ayad. With headliners including Florence + the Machine, Noel Gallagher, Fatboy Slim, The Script, Basement Jaxx and Stereophonics, it doesn’t take too much arm-twisting for artists to sign on thedotted line. “Also, a lot of the times you will find the artists adding a few dates at the end of their tour to relax here in the hotel and really enjoy the facilities,” she says.

New layout

Expect more room, bigger screens, more space for VIPs and shorter toilet queues. “We have been speaking a lot to the festivalgoers about ways to improve,” says the Atlantis special events director Monika Muschkiet.

• Sandance is on Friday at Atlantis The Beach from 2pm to 2am. Tickets begin from Dh295 at www.timeoutickets.com