For people who have always wondered about the appeal of vinyl records, a walk through the only record store in Dubai, the Flip Side, is sure to at least soften the heart of even the most hardcore skeptics. With just a year under its belt, Shadi Megalla’s passion project is the manifestation of a lifetime worth of collecting.
Al Serkal Avenue plays host to a wealth of Dubai’s most creative and interesting cafes, workspaces and studios. The art hub is an homage to the progressive creative culture you’re bound to find in the back alleys of any European or American cities. But amidst all this lays an outlier, one that eagerly attempts to retain a culture less known and rarely celebrated.
While thumbing through records at the Flip Side, the vibe is undeniable. An old reggae tune croons in the background, and posters and art hang from its exposed brick walls. It’s a weekday afternoon, and save for myself, a few others and the store manager, it’s calm. In a square, ring like layout in the corner, records sit against wooden shelves, and lining the wall on the right are record players laid out in succession for the consumer to taste test before purchase. Shadi’s attention to detail even trickles down to those he hires. Store manager, Jedd Peralta, makes his way over to offer his assistance and delves generously into the history of the Flip Side.
“It’s beyond just music. The feel of it in your hands bring a different emotion.”
Both musicians, Jedd and Shadi have shared the stage several times, which formed the foundation of their friendship now. Peralta’s affinity for music and records in general is apparent in the way he talks about Ernie Ranglin or 70s Afrobeats.
“You know the thing is, it’s like buying a book.”
As he rifles through his favourite records, he talks about how the scene in Dubai feels like it’s longing to learn - about records, music and time gone by. From hosting listening sessions to highlighting local artists, the Flip Side reiterates the importance of a common musical space to connect (like a barbershop for music).
Whether you’re a digital groupie or an analog fiend, it’s refreshing to find a place so full of passion and honest concern for the culture. Aesthetic and design are often easy to fake, but energy and unabashed love for the culture can rarely be replicated.