As with many industries during the Covid-19 pandemic, the UAE's entertainment scene was completely transformed.
With the closure of clubs and venues that were once packed to the brim with revellers, a new breed of nightlife was born.
Enter, stage right, the dinner and dance show, an idea that has thrived in the past few years, particularly in Dubai.
As part of this photo series, The National's photographer Antonie Robertson shot behind the scenes with performers at some of the top dance shows in the city.
Scroll through the gallery above to see more
This includes long-time stalwart White Dubai, in Meydan, which since 2020 has transformed itself from one of the region's biggest nightclubs to a lavish sit-down restaurant and lounge, where caviar and cabaret are part and parcel of the experience.
Then there's The Theater at Fairmont Dubai, which opened in summer 2021, offering an “immersive visual spectacle with world-class entertainment”. That includes live music and dance, blending eastern and western tastes, with a line-up of artistes from across the world, including singers and aerial dancers from Las Vegas, with the shows directed by Lebanese-Armenian musician, composer and pianist Guy Manoukian.
Papillon, at The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, has arguably become the most talked-about among these dinner-and-show experiences. It is the brainchild of seasoned singer, model and Dubai resident Layla Kardan, and is fully dedicated to the art form of cabaret.
“Clubs really haven’t come back since Covid began, and now people are used to going out and sitting down and still wanting to experience something entertaining, but also enriching," Kardan previously told The National. "This is why there is a growing appetite for concepts, for example, that bring different elements together like food, theatre and dance.”