Dom Joly: I've seen the Sugababes and the world's first fireplace

Related Topics

Two days back home and then it was off to Central Asia again. This time my destination was Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. As guest of one of the new tycoons this area seems to be producing, this was no ordinary trip. I was put up at a swanky London hotel, wined and dined and then, the following morning, whisked over Europe in a private jet towards Azerbaijan. It was a little like a de luxe special rendition.

As we approached Baku – the site, my enthusiastic guide told me, of the first fireplace in history – the Caucasus Mountains fell away to reveal the peninsula jutting out into the Caspian on which the city sits.

As we drove in from the airport, the architecture became almost Parisian, a reminder of the 40-year oil boom that this crossroads capital had enjoyed at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. Reaching the seafront it was clear that another boom was under way. Cranes and building sites were everywhere: somebody had big plans for this place.

I didn't have too much time to wander about – just a cup of sweet tea in a wonderful old caravanserai before being whisked off to the opening of a huge new Baku nightspot. It was a big event in town and "le tout Baku" had turned up to party. Fake paparazzi had been placed outside to snap partygoers. Sadly, however, they had been provided with ancient cameras with neither flash nor film and so looked a little demented as they mock-clicked away as you entered.

Inside, I was ushered up to an area with a particularly good view of proceedings. It is extraordinary just how globalised the world of the nightclub has become. Once inside there was very little to indicate that we might be in Azerbaijan. Two celebrity DJs were advertised as being "in da house". They were, apparently, DJ Ravin' and DJ Jack E. In a suspended booth high above the dance floor a very fat man was playing air guitar and occasionally screaming nonsensical gibberish into a microphone. Was this Ravin' or Jack E? I didn't much care – the beats pounded away like mental hammers inside my head and I felt very old.

The local crowd seemed to be enjoying it, almost all of them dressed in black. The women were stunning, whereas the men all looked as though they were very useful with a knife and not impartial to a spot of shot-putting. Globalised canapés started to appear – provided by the maître d', who told Gordon Ramsay that I'd beaten him on The F-Word. Behind me, what turned out to be most of the Azeri cabinet lolled like awkward walruses on shiny sofas while their petite wives retouched their make-up.

D J Knobby, or whatever his name was, screamed at us to "make some noise" as the special international guest stars had arrived. It was the Sugababes. Three women climbed on to a stage. They wouldn't have looked out of place working in Primark and had clearly recently been clothes shopping there. They launched into an appallingly choreographed song, occasionally punctuated by random "sexy" moves and shouts of "Hellooo Bakoooo". It was embarrassing, and the crowd started to slip away from the stage towards the canapés and gallons of free drink on offer.

I even started to miss DJ Knobby for a very brief moment, as the latest version of this curiously uncharismatic three-piece warbled their way through another song. It was too much in the end, and I slipped outside past the freezing, fake paparazzi and wandered down alongside a darkened Caspian towards my hotel. Somewhere, out to sea, the wind sirens wailed their disapproval.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings  

Election 2015: Smash the two-party system! Smash the voting system!

Armando Iannucci
Tactical voting is a necessary evil of the current first-past-the-post system, where voters vote against what they do not want rather than in favour of what they do  

Election 2015: Voting tactically has become more fraught in new political order

Michael Ashcroft
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever