A1 Nights are due to kick off again once Ramadan has ended and we caught up with organiser and owner of Xtremer Entertainment, Moroccan-born Moufdi El Bellaj.
Moufdi has travelled all over the world as a professional dancer, predominantly influenced by the Electric Boogaloo and Bronx dancing street styles, but also deft at generic hip-hop dancing.
Now, although he still dances for personal pleasure, his time is spent organising events and working on graphic design, photography, videography and more, all still within the music and nightlife realm for his company.
One of the most popular evenings in the city is A1 Nights at the Grand Hyatt at The Grill, a popular restaurant throughout the week but completely altered for Friday evenings to cater for Doha’s discerning hip-hop enthusiasts.
We asked Moufdi why he wanted hip-hop to be the top of the agenda, what his future plans are for the music scene in the city and what he hoped people get from one of his nights. Here’s our interview with him.
So why did you call it A1 Nights?
If you have a look on urban dictionary, A1 means the best, excellent. We felt this was an ideal name for the night.
Hip-hop and RnB music – why?
I had no doubt that hip-hop and RnB would be a success. This was confirmed for us the first night we had it as the place was packed. And now we have begun hosting celebrity acts, which adds another dimension and gives the crowd even more to enjoy.
Ok, so the music is different, but what else is different?
No-one plays from a playlist. They have to have a feel for what the crowd is in the mood for and work from that. Playlists mean that you could hear the same thing another place or night. We want to give that unique experience. People come for the quality of the music and for something different in Doha. We’ve had acts such as Lil John and Fat Joe bring down the house.
What is your target audience?
There are a lot of places playing commercial house. A1 Nights gives people something different. It’s mainly commercial RnB and hip-hop, so all the latest hits. The crowd really knows the music, and we are always happy that many people return week on week.
Is it exclusively a young crowd?
Actually, no. You get people of all ages. A lot are young but we also get people in their 50s turning up and having a great night too. There’s also a mixture of nationalities attending, but when we bring a big British act in, the Brits come out in force.
Give me five reasons why someone should come to an A1 Night?
Ok. 1) The quality of the music. 2) The fact we get special artists and celebrities. 3) The venue is great in a five-star hotel. 4) The quality of refreshments on offer. 5) The crowd. They have a great night and are really friendly.
What happens at a typical A1 Night?
There are usually two resident DJs. DJ Santiago typically starts off the night, followed by DJ Rage and then a famous international artist. Sometimes we also use international DJs as well.
How long will the well-known artist perform for?
It varies, but it’s usually between 20-45 minutes.
Is A1 going to get bigger and better?
Of course. There are some really big events coming up: stay tuned!
Do you plan to run other events through Xtremer Entertainment?
Yes we have plans. Some time after Ramadan we are looking at having a house night at the Grand Hyatt as well. Watch this space!
A1 Nights are on every Friday, restarting on July 24, from 9pm-late. Prices vary, but for a usual night, it is QR100 entry for men, free for ladies before midnight. For special artists, entry varies from QR150-QR200 for men, free entry for ladies before 11pm, QR100 thereafter. The Grill, Grand Hyatt Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4448 1234).