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Audio culture comes to life at uberhaus
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BEIRUT: Luxury travel guides and international newspapers’ weekend supplements have been fond, over recent years, to stress the quality of Beirut’s nightlife: How its bars and clubs are one of the city’s main draws.

But for those who know the city – and music – there has been something lacking on the scene. For all the chichi rooftop bars and commercial DJs who drop by Beirut, there has been little in the way of spaces dedicated to electronic and house music.

Since the Basement closed in 2011, club night series such as We Run Beirut, this summer’s Decks on the Beach parties at Sporting, and Jade’s C U NXT SAT have offered some respite to bored ears, but there has been no permanent venue catering to such music tastes.

That is until this Friday, which will see the opening of uberhaus, a new nightclub which aims to provide the city’s club kids with a playground.

“We have a very healthy underground music scene in Beirut and it deserves a venue of its own,” says Romax Maurer, entertainment manager and resident DJ at uberhaus.

With resident DJs such as Richard Kahwagi, from the BCE, and Ronin and Nesta, the club will also bring in international acts bimonthly: Maurer would love to host Maya Jane Coles, Claude von Stroke, DJ T and Soul Clap in the near future.

Maurer hopes the club will help kick start the launch of a new nightlife movement in the city, eventually putting Beirut among global clubbing destinations such as New York, London and Ibiza.

From the resident DJs to the international acts, “the sound of their music is continuously pushing the boundaries and redefining what house or techno music is known as,” Maurer says.

“If this is the beginning of something than it’s definitely going to take a sense of synergy between artists and club kids ... We hope that über can be a starting point for that.”

“House music always came out of clubs; its roots are in the club scene. Club kids came together on the dance floor and we opened our club to provide that platform for them,” he adds.

Housed beneath the WH Hotel in Hamra, in what was once the Wienner Keller, one of Beirut’s first clubs, the Germanic name of today’s incarnation of the venue pays homage to its past.

“We wanted to pay tribute to the original venue ... one of the first actual ‘clubs’ in the country,” Maurer says, which was opened in 1972 by an Austrian family.

“We felt that it was important to preserve something of that era, to show the history of the space ... We have even preserved some of the original drawings that lined the wall in those days.”

A fully customizable pixel wall behind the DJ booth and an interactive LED lighting system bring the aesthetic more up to date, however, and the interiors are designed to foster a more open atmosphere.

Nightlife in Lebanon, according to Maurer “is centered on your table and the friends that you showed up with. We built the club to shift the emphasis from the tables to the dance floor.”

With only 14 tables, all lined along the edge of the club, and no stools at the bar, there is as much space for dancing as possible. “Once you feel that bass drop you really have no choice but to hit the dance floor,” Maurer adds.

“Additionally, all of the tables share one, long couch pushing people to interact with their ‘neighbors’ and meet new people.”

Mingling aside, uberhaus is ultimately about the music, and a focus on the “audio culture” of today.

“To us audio culture is about blasting your favorite tracks on the biggest sound system you can find. It’s about anticipating the next song in the mix just as it’s being worked in ... It’s about real music and it’s never been lacking, it just didn’t have a home until now.”

Uberhaus, on Leon Street, near Hamra, opens Nov. 16, and thereafter every Friday and Saturday from 9:30 p.m. Call 76-363 662, or visit www.uberhaus.me for more information.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 15, 2012, on page 2.
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