A little piece of Lebanon comes to town this week in the form of Beirut To Bombay Nights, an evening of Middle Eastern dance music and art at the Sydney Opera House.

Featuring live music and performance artists from Lebanon and Australia, the night has been organised by Patrick Abboud, the executive producer of SBS Radio’s nightly dance program Alchemy.

Abboud said he came up with the idea for the event while on a trip to Lebanon five years ago to visit his family village.

While I was there I unexpectedly came across an amazing underground arts scene, he said. I saw there was this band called Soap Kills which was doing so much interesting stuff, and I heard their CD and decided I had to get this band to Sydney one day.

And he finally did. The electro-acoustic band is the headline act for the event on this weekend.

Hearing Soap Kills was what inspired me to put on this event. Their performances aren’t just about music -“ their nights in Lebanon involved video artists, performance artists, all kinds of different artists from different backgrounds doing really interesting stuff.

Abboud felt most Middle Eastern or South East Asian themed parties in Sydney stereotyped the culture, something he was keen to avoid.

I wanted to do something that really reflected the grittiness and raw authentic elements of the culture, he said.

I really wanted to make it an authentic representation. We’ve done that by getting artists that are somehow connected to a specific element of that culture, and therefore the audience will connect with the culture.

He thinks gay and lesbian partygoers, who have been looking for dance parties that are really different, will particularly enjoy the event.

People are really interested in other types of music from around the world. There’s not much of that within in the gay community and I think because of that people will be attracted to this.

At the time of press Beirut To Bombay Nights had almost sold out, but Opera House programmers have told Abboud they’re interested in holding more events with him in the future.

So hopefully this will be the first of many, he said.

Info: Beirut To Bombay Nights, 8pm, Sunday 18 September, The Studio, Sydney Opera House. Book on 9250 7777 or on the Sydney Opera House website.

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