SINCE its first party in 2002, Club Arak has arguably grown to become somewhat of an institution in Sydney’s LGBTI nightlife.

And this weekend, the Arabic music party is once again being held to kick off the Mardi Gras season the night before Fair Day.

While Arabic music is the agenda for the night, the event is open to everyone – Arab-Australians, their friends, family and admirers.

But for Arab-Australians themselves, attending the party can sometimes be for more personal reasons. Hailing from a cultural heritage that is not always accepting of LGBTI people, being able to dance to the music they grew up with in a nightclub while holding on to the one they love holds special significance – as they would often not be able to do that at family parties where similar music is always played, like weddings.

For that reason, Club Arak organisers pride themselves on consistently being able to bring LGBTI Arab-Australians together in a safe and fun environment.

More importantly, they also boast being able to attract a diverse range of people, treating everyone with the same sort of hospitality you’d expect at an Arab wedding or even a 21st party – so don’t be surprised if you find yourself dragged into an impromptu dabke while on the dance floor.

Party organiser Alissar Gazal said: “Regardless of age or race, the music will move you to new heights, from the east of somewhere, to the west of somewhere else.”

With 19 parties under its belt over the past 12 years, it has showcased everything from politically-charged performance art, Arabic drag shows and epic choreography on stage.

Leading the music for the night is DJ Chadi, who has just come back from Lebanon, where he collected everything new and hot that’s filling the dance floors of the country’s capital and “sin city” of the Middle East, Beirut.

“The energy on the Lebanese dance floors when the first Arabic track is dropped is incomparable, we’re so lucky to be able to recreate it here at Club Arak,” he said.

Revellers can expect the tunes and remixes of classic favourites from Fairuz to Oum Kalthoum, to modern hits from Nanjy Ajram or Amr Diab, and everything in between. Organisers have also said there would be a special light show in honour of Mardi Gras.



Where: The Imperial Hotel, Erskineville

When: 10pm; Saturday, February 8.

Tickets: $30


* Tickets available at the door – but advanced bookings recommended.

RELATED: Club Arak photos – November 2013 party


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