Q's Bar & Lounge by Quincy Jones - Palazzo Versace, Dubai

There is something about Q's Bar & Lounge as my guest and I walk in. There is a sophistication about the venue that also has, in the same breath, a decidedly relaxed feel. It is small and intimate, and therein lies the beauty of this place. People are gathered around the bar, while some are seated at small tables. Cool. Chic. Trendy. Chilled. These are my first impressions of Quincy Jones' bar at the luxurious Palazzo Versace Hotel in Dubai. 

We start off with a glass of the hotel's house champagne, the Ruinart 'R de Ruinart' Brut Champagne. It is, after all, one of those occasions that I feel I will not forget. The anticipation builds as we await the arrival on stage of multi-talented American performer Sheléa. 

I remark to my guest that the bar is really a great equaliser. You have the overt opulenece that is the hotel, from the moment we walked in. But now we find ourselves in a space, while still having Versace touches like the signature cushions, just has exactly what you want from a bar -  a feeling of comfort and relaxation. It is indeed a wonderful juxtaposition.  

The bar has a bites menu, but this takes second place to an impressive drinks selection that offers some fine champagne, boutique wines, rare single malt whisky as well as Japanese whisky. For a  night out on the town, great drink choices abound. However, we are feeling peckish, so my guest orders the Lea Chase Gumbo traditional seafood soup served with plain rice, just right as a light meal. I, on the other hand, have the Cod Fish Beignets served with zesty tartar sauce - my guest and I both agree that the cod is superb. On a side note, smoking is allowed, but as a non-smoker, I can honestly say, the air is well filtered and it was no issue at all. 

Sheléa, meanwhile, finishes her first set, which ran from 21h00-22h00, leaving 30 minutes before the next set for reflection. It is easy to see why her debut album made it onto the Billboard top 30 while she has shared the stage with numerous legends, including hall of famer Stevie Wonder. There is no doubt about her ability to perform. On the contrary, it is as if she was born to do this. She has a marvellous vocal range, and at times, I thought I was listening to Alicia Keys. However, it is her sincerity as a performer that makes an equally big impression on me. When she talks to her guests, she is real. Warm. Honest. 

For her second set, she takes it up a notch and shows her vocal range. She has chosen a sensible set that allows people to sing along and tap their feet. When she breaks into Nina Simone's Feeling Good, I am beside myself. But I know I am not the only enraptured. She goes through some standard jazz tunes as she takes on Ella Fitzgerald's Mac the knife, showing a fun side to her, almost setting us up for her magnificent interpretation of Nat King Cole's The Autumn Leaves - the latter leaves me with goosebumps. It is as if she owns the song; like it was written for her. Time stands still. 

She will be the first to agree though that she is backed up by a fantastic band who have moments where they each take centre stage. In the the final set, when she takes requests, the band really finds its voice, so to speak, as they do pieces by Prince and Green Day. Kudos to the band. 

The best for the evening, as they say, should always be saved for last, and that is exactly what Sheléa does. She brings down the bar with the Ray Charles classic (Night time is) the right time, a performance as stirring as the one she did for the Obamas in 2016 with Anthony Hamilton. It is during this performance that, if anyone was in doubt as to what a  coup it was for Q's to bring her to Dubai, that doubt would have evaporated ina  second - the consummate performer. 

When the show ended around 1.15, I felt emotionally drained. The intensity of Sheléa's stage presence, her love for what she does and her connection to people (she hugged every guest), left me wanting more but I knew I had to leave on that note of perfection for one can never recreate these moments. Sadly her stay at Q's is about to end but I hope she will be back. In the meantime, Q's will get ready for its next performer. 

The only question is, where will you be? Need I ask?

Qs Bar & Lounge
Palazzo Versace Hotel
+971 4 556 8888

Qs at Palazzo Versace

Note: There is a minimum spend of AED250
Disclaimer: I tried the brunch by invitation of the hotel. All views are my own. 
Brandon Stoltenkamp