“I advocate glamour. Every day. Every minute.” Dita Von Teese
They love a soft opening here in the UAE !?! What is a soft opening I hear many of you ask? Well basically it’s the opening of a new venue before the official scheduled opening, a sort of test the water event, if you like. Now I’ve been to a lot of soft openings here and I’m not a big fan because typically it’s organised chaos, partially trained staff and surely as you only get one chance to make a first impression why not wait until you are completely ready!
A new restaurant and Lounge has opened in Abu Dhabi (source:www.burlesqueuae.com)
However if I’m invited to such an event that offers a preview, usually with free food and drinks I’m not going to turn down the opportunity? Shallow, you say? Always! On my first weekend back in the sandpit (my affectionate name for Abu Dhabi) the other half and I were invited to the soft opening of a new establishment called Burlesque at the Yas Viceroy Hotel. Now my first thought (after there’s free food and drink, I’m in) was Burlesque in the UAE are you sure? As in scantily clad ladies dancing in a provocative striptease style like Dita Von Teese in this region, surely not ?!?
As expected the Burlesque restaurant and lounge fully respects this regions cultural values and is more about the look of recreating a glamorous Victorian style boudoir. Rich red and purple velvet tones, huge red deep-button armchairs, oversized chandeliers hang alongside large framed antique portraits capturing a past era and there was not a nipple tassel in site. The restaurant/lounge is actually the refurbishment of the stark white Nautilus seafood restaurant that was there previously and the contrast couldn’t be more extreme.
Located in the Marina wing of the vast hotel, the venue has always been a pain to access through the hotels extensive lobby, in one lift and then a walk across the bridge over the F1 track to another lift and then a walk to the entrance (far too much walking for those infamous red soled shoes) but don’t let that put you off if you like cocktails, tapas and enjoying an evening sitting on a beautiful terrace with views across to Yas Marina.
The event called the ‘End of Summer Cocktail Party‘ provided guests with free drinks and tapas until 10pm (and let me tell you the Sangria punch went down well) all to the sounds and husky tones of Miss Tia and her jazz band (she had an amazing voice). As expected at a pre-launch launch the service was atrocious (I was told by one waitress to go and help myself to the punch much to the horrified reaction of one of the managers as I was ladling myself a large glass, ‘Sit down Madam, we will serve you‘, but will you though………) and the tapas (requested several times) was delicious but certainly not plentiful or free-flowing.
Miss Tia and her band
I have learnt from these kind of events to give places here a second chance as soft openings dressed up in any guise do not reflect any new concept in its best light. In Abu Dhabi’s extremely competitive entertainment market, I honestly think venues should wait until they are fully prepared, the staff are trained and knowledgeable and the first impression is always a good one. On the other hand if anyone wants to invite me to their soft opening, I will of course attend because according to my lovely family I have a severe case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and I’ll even pour my own drinks!
Burlesque’s official Grand Opening is tomorrow night (Thursday 18th September) with entertainment from the in-house international live band and actually the promise of a live Burlesque show with dancers and musicians from ‘A Touch of Beirut’. Watch this space Abu Dhabians!
Location: Yas Viceroy Hotel, Yas Island
Telephone: 056 4987580
It’s the Grand Opening of Burlesque tomorrow night (source:www.thecapitallist.ae)
All views are my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2014. All rights reserved.