“I don’t throw parties, I create experiences”, says 27-year-old Egyptian Magdel AbdelMessih, who has been carving out unprecedented club nights in Cairo for ten years already. Famed for his monthly events he has been throwing for a year aptly entitled outs:de, as they literally happen on an island, Almassih has actually been a massive influence on Cairo’s nightlife scene for a decade. Promoting carefree hedonism and a daring creative agenda, he is the man who has been incubating the development of an unapologetically non-judgmental and inclusive clubbing scene in Cairo.
“I went to study in Montreal in 2010 and this is when I started taking this to another level, hosting parties in lofts and warehouses, creating proper concepts and inviting key artists”, he says, referring to his formative years, before he decided to move back to Cairo three years later. “I had missed the revolution and I wanted to see how things had changed”, he continues. So naturally, he moved back and established his creative events company Desimana, throwing parties all over the city. Whether they happened in abandoned factories, derelict buildings, garages or low-key rooftops, his experiences always offered an alternative to Cairo’s overwhelming pace and suffocating atmosphere. “Cairo is over populated and over polluted”, he explains before adding, “people needed to break away from the city’s chaos and society’s everyday norms and find places where can they simply just feel comfortable”.
But because several platforms started labelling the club nights as “gay parties”, AbdelMessih was forced to shut down one of his events in February 2018. “People who come are generally from rather privileged social classes in the city. The situation was very sensitive and we couldn’t let the media target people and let things get blown out of proportion”, he says.
Despite the pressure, AbdelMessih didn’t throw in the towel and came up with the idea of exporting his events outs:de Cairo, to a literal island. With the parties now running from daytime to midnight, outs:de is a place where anyone can let go and connect with others. “People need to take our shutter boats to access the island so that means we can make sure no one harmful or threatening can come in”.
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Attracting crowds of up to 800 people, outs:de is a testament to the face that people need safe spaces where they can express themselves freely. “It’s so much more than just partying”, he says. But when asked if what he does relates to wider political issues, AbdelMessih affirms that he doesn’t want to get involved with that. But his vision has nonetheless inspired many emerging collectives and promoters to rejuvenate Cairo’s nightlife culture. As he notes, “It’s more about creating a community”.