Has Dubai Rugby Sevens jumped the shark?
Bad music choices, botched celebratory parade, VIPs treated like kids… is Dubai’s most famous sporting weekend a spent force?
December 4, 2011 2:53 by kippreport
“Come on DHL stand what’s wrong with you? We want to see you DANCING!”
So yells the MC of the Dubai Emirates Rugby Sevens tournament, the biggest sporting weekend of the year in the UAE, as he desperately tries to gee-up the crowd.
Well, Kipp can tell you what’s wrong with the crowd, and why they aren’t dancing – you keep playing Queen hits, and most of them don’t listen to Queen. Ever. A good number of them weren’t even born when Queen were in their prime, and with the notable exceptions of We Will Rock You and Don’t Stop Me Now, they have no idea what you are playing or why.
Note to organisers: Just because this year marks 40 years of Queen, as well as 40 years of the UAE, does not make it a good idea to tie the two together. But you did anyway, and the result was at least two generations of fans at the tournament, raised on Ibiza dance music, standing idly around wandering when the good party music would start. And when it did, it was repeatedly faded out early, or for some reason turned down.
Someone is terribly out of touch, thinks Kipp.
It didn’t used to be like this. Normally, the Sevens identified a major pop or dance hit for the year and plays it every chance, pumping up the crowds with perfection and creating a party atmosphere like no other. This year, they only track they seemed to have from this year’s Now That’s What I Call Music was LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem, admittedly one of the tracks of the year.
However with uncustomary poor judgment of whoever was running the music faded it out after the intro and before it got going every time, almost without fail. Until the very end of the last day, but by that time most people had gone home.
Yes, readers, after attending the entirety of this year’s Sevens tournament Kipp could not escape the palpable feeling that the event has lost its way. And not just with its music playlist.
Take the celebratory parade, which takes place on the Friday evening. Last year, we had a magnificent gathering of school kids dancing like they were having the time of their lives on the centre of the pitch, while players from seemingly every team did a lap of the pitch joined by camels and cheerleaders while countless parachutists descended from the sky with coloured smoke trailing behind them. It was glorious and perfect, seemingly timed to perfection and grabbing every person in the stand by the scruff of the neck and daring them not to have a good time.
This year, all the same ingredients, but it didn’t come together at all. A lame attempt to mark the 40th birthday of the UAE was flatly received by a crowd who were otherwise looking forward to marking the occasion in a fun way. There were a handful of skydivers, but two of them arrived after the parade was finished. There was a group on the pitch holding materials to make up the UAE flag but they were standing still for half the parade before they got a clue and finally waved their flags. Finally, there was the customary lap of the pitch but most of the teams evidently decided not to take part.
It was painful to watch. It just seemed like a new events team was hired for the Rugby Sevens 2011—one that couldn’t even replicate what worked last year. They just couldn’t get it together.
The botched parade and woeful music weren’t the end of it either. We had a “wacky” presenter who seemed to be styled after dubious British kids TV entertainer Timmy Mallett searching for a face in the crowd. It was excruciating.
There was also the “new” Aggreko Dynamos, the cheerleading squad which most years are loved by the fans. Unfortunately this year the new bunch failed to match the old, with almost painfully dull, repetitive routines and a distinct lack of spark. If you work at Aggreko and you’re reading this, please, please – bring back the old lot.
The new lot’s efforts were summed up when the entire aforementioned DHL stand (traditionally the party stand of the tournament) turned their back on them mid-routine to enjoy the far more fun “Aggressive dinohos”, a bunch of men in cheerleader drag making up routines on the spot. The Aggreko Dynamos went off in a very obvious strop. (CONTINUED TO NEXT PAGE)
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