Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 2 June 2020

Dubai’s DJ Bliss will perform at your prom for free

The popular spinner says he wants to help cheer up pupils after a difficult end to the academic year

DJ Bliss, real name Marwan Al Awadhi, hopes to put a smile on faces by DJing virtual prom nights for free. Hussain Alidina
DJ Bliss, real name Marwan Al Awadhi, hopes to put a smile on faces by DJing virtual prom nights for free. Hussain Alidina

Spare a thought for UAE high school pupils about to graduate next month.

Not only will this pandemic potentially ruin a well-deserved summer break, but it may also rob them of the memories surrounding their final days at school, including a memorable party.

Enter one of the region’s most popular DJs. Bliss is stepping in to keep the beat going, even if it is only online.

Speaking to The National, DJ Bliss – real name Marwan Al Awadhi – says he is offering to DJ at UAE schools' or pupils' virtual proms, for free.

The deal is simple: once the school or pupils have organised their online event, they need hit up Bliss with the details and he will log in on the decks at the appointed hour. Bliss says the offer is open to all UAE schools, and he is even happy to perform several sets on the same night.

The aim behind the move, the Emirati DJ says, is to put a smile on pupils’ faces after an extraordinarily difficult end to their academic year.

“What they are going through is hard, man. I just want to help in my way. I am serious about this. This is not about making money and there are absolutely no strings attached,” he says.

“I have played in proms, but have never done a virtual one before. So if we can do it online and get people together and celebrate, that would be great.”

Dress your best and be yourself

Bliss says he thought the idea would work after witnessing the success of online events, such as DJ D-Nice’s groundbreaking #Clubquarantine party on Instagram Live last month, as well as his own DJ sets over the past few weeks.

For someone used to performing to thousands each week across UAE clubs, Bliss says he was moved by the communal vibe the online space offers.

“It was just great to see people really enjoying themselves,” he says.

“By that, I mean, in the clubs you always get people who are out there to show off and to be seen. You don’t have that online. People are just happy being themselves and that’s a really nice thing to see.”

1998's Al Mawakeb prom king

Another factor pushing Bliss is that he doesn’t want pupils to miss out on the anticipation and bittersweet fun that a prom brings.

In the clubs you always get people who are out there to show off and to be seen. You just don’t have that online, people are just happy being themselves

Originally a US high-school tradition celebrating pupils in their last year, proms, Bliss says, have been happening in the UAE for at least two decades.

And he should know – he was 1998’s official prom king of Dubai’s Al Mawakeb School.

The title, awarded through a secret ballot held on the night by all those who attended the ball, seems rather apt, as Bliss's gregarious personality eventually landed him roles as a television and radio presenter as well as a DJ.

“The only thing is that I was not the popular kid in school in anyway,” he says. “I was not with the cool kids or the nerds who were super-smart. I was always in the middle of the two. This is why I got into DJing at the time, just so I could be invited to parties.”

Bliss’s unlikely path to prom king is something straight out of a teen high-school comedy. Eager to impress his peers, he and his band of friends decided to get back at the cool kids – who were organising the prom at Dubai’s Al Bustan Hotel in Al Garhoud – by organising a renegade event of their own.

But the plan didn't go far. Faced with the financial and logistical difficulties of holding such an event, coupled with the fact the teens were strapped for cash and didn't have a driver's licence, meant the idea fizzled rather quickly.

“And to be honest, everybody wanted to go to the other one,” Bliss admits in defeat. “So, you know, I went there wearing a suit that didn’t look good and I just had fun. I didn’t care and I was just myself and I was shocked when they told me I was prom king.”

While Bliss regrets that he doesn’t have photos of himself at the event (it was pre-smartphone era after all), his prom king plaque remains a prized possession.

Bliss hopes he can create similar great memories for UAE pupils this summer. And just to make sure, he plans to get some of his famous friends to get in on the action by appearing as guests on the live feeds.

Judging by Bliss’s Instagram page, could we see an impromptu speech by RnB star Alicia Keys or a shout out from Dubai trainers-loving Instagram star Rashed "Money Kicks" Belhasa or rapper Fat Joe?

“I will try to bring all of my high-profile social media friends to join in and show their support,” he says. “I just want to make it a night to remember.”

Updated: May 17, 2020 05:14 PM

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