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Taking a nap in the middle of a DJ set would be the last thing on your mind when heading to a gig. Yet, at a unique event in Dubai, dozing off in the middle of the show is not only acceptable but ideal.

sleep concertwhich takes place at the Digital Art Theater, or Toda, at Souk Madinat Jumeirah until this weekend, channels a psychedelic musical tradition that dates back to the 1960s. Combining elements of live music, an audiovisual spectacle and meditation, the event aims to induce the public into a “psychedelic state” of relaxation.

We enter with an idea of ​​what to expect; comfortable beanbags to relax on, probably soothing music and a relaxing atmosphere against a backdrop of trippy and moving projections typical of Toda presentations.

We arrive a little later after the 10 p.m. begins only to find the images already floating on the walls of the theater, in multicolored, swirling patterns that look like poured paint. The visuals hold our full attention for the first few minutes as we soak up the vibe.

As it transitions into a more spatial abstract theme – again in intense colors – over the next half hour we settle deeper into our beanbags and try to be more in tune with the parameters, otherwise to catch some Z.

The music, by Russian artists Yuri Elik and Pavel Mikhailov, is relaxing, with low vocals and ambient sounds. We’re far from walking away, but we’re slowly heading into a cold but distracted headspace with vague thoughts popping up (do I remember where I parked? What are those random letters on the screen? Done hot in here?).

I notice that my friend isn’t quite “immersed” and on her phone yet, but the others around us seem lost in the process.

The visuals become more overriding, making us feel like we’re inside a womb or cocoon. A few wriggling worms even appear on the screens.

After a few more minutes of distraction, the screen goes dark, the music turns on, and images begin to appear with incongruous elements that one might otherwise expect to see in weird dreams (think trees with eyes, sea creatures with arms). This is what finally gets me “the vibe” as I doze off for what feels like half an hour, but turns out to be only five minutes. I wake up with a start seeing reptilian creatures still floating around. My friend, meanwhile, is completely passed out on her pouffe.

OK, mission accomplished, at least for one of us.

About 90 minutes later, I’m starting to wonder if this underwater phantasmagoria has gone on a bit too long, and as if it’s a cue, the screens go dark again. Vivid multicolored smudge effects are back. I decide to close my eyes and focus more on the music, but the projections quickly become far too bright and kaleidoscopic for that. The tunes are now slower and deeper and definitely calmer, but not quite sleepy for me.

Effects similar to molten lava, steadily floating upwards, are accompanied by what I imagine to be sounds similar to those of the Amazon rainforest

Bright colors fade and turn into shimmering, shimmering black and white shapes and my now half-asleep brain wonders: Space rays from a UFO? Am I in the Matrix?

A few minutes later I’m woken from my stupor (or was it sleeping?) to see the hues have changed again – this time it’s molten lava effects, steadily floating upwards, accompanied by what I imagine to be the Amazon rainforest – like sounds.

After two hours, i.e. midnight, I gave up hope of falling asleep, but a look around me reveals that most of the participants had fallen into some kind of sleep or meditation.

Soon the music begins to become more upbeat, meant to uplift and refresh the audience. Ironically, that’s exactly when I managed to walk away, only waking up at the end of the show when the light screens suddenly went dark.

I feel rested.

It’s one of those events that hones the idea of ​​social distancing chilling in the age of the pandemic, so it’s definitely worth putting on your to-do list if you have a penchant for quirky and immersive experiences, like Dubai never fails to do. impress us with.

Theater of Digital Art Sleep Concert will take place on February 25 and 26; 10 p.m.-1 a.m.; tickets from Dh150 for adults; www.toda.ae

Updated: February 25, 2022, 08:51

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