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Boogie Box: How Hassan Alwan and Shadi Megallaa filled a musical void in the UAE

Celebrating 13 years, Boogie Box has evolved from a simple idea into a landmark

  • 31 October 2023

In the world of electronic music, few stories resonate as authentically as that of Hassan Alwan, co-founder of Boogie Box. His journey, spanning continents and cultures, is not just about music but the passion and perseverance behind it. Starting in 2009, when Alwan moved back to the UAE, a seemingly simple decision to throw a party with his childhood friend Shadi Megallaa ignited a cultural phenomenon in the country.

Hassan Alwan's formative years were spent in the UAE, from 1983 to 2000, where he attended school. Like many in his generation, his initial encounter with music and culture was within the local environment. "I grew up in the UAE where I went to school from 1983 - 2000," Alwan recalls, marking the beginning of a journey that would take him far from home.

Post-high school, Alwan's quest for education and experience led him to Montreal in 2000. It was in this vibrant Canadian city that his musical identity began to take shape. He shares, "During my time in Montreal, I had started DJing, throwing parties and working in clubs. It was there in Montreal that I really immersed myself in house and techno music." Montreal's dynamic music scene, particularly its strong house, Electro, and minimal influences, and the presence of record stores, played a pivotal role in shaping his artistic ethos.

In 2004, Alwan moved to London, England, seeking further studies and work opportunities. His experience in London was more than academic or professional; it was deeply personal and transformative. Alwan reflects, "I spent most of my summers and Christmas holidays in London as a child, and was very influenced by UK dance music culture." His active involvement in the scene was evident as he continued to perform, throw parties, and eventually start a record label.

2009 marked a turning point as Alwan returned to the UAE, reuniting with childhood friend Shadi Megallaa. Both found the UAE's music scene lacking, which spurred them to action. "One day in 2009, we very spontaneously decided to throw a party to get our friends together and play records. And Boogie Box was born." The foundation of Boogie Box wasn't just a venture; it was an act of filling a cultural void.

Boogie Box started without a grand plan or vision, initially focusing on the sheer joy of playing records and building a dance floor culture. "Our first parties were very DIY," Alwan reminisces. These humble beginnings were marked by a do-it-yourself ethos - transporting turntables in a car, setting up sound systems, and hand-distributing flyers. Despite these modest starts, the venture struck a chord. "I think we managed to attract a couple of hundred people for our first party. And our friends motivated us to keep it going," Alwan states, highlighting the organic growth of their movement.

As Boogie Box's reputation grew, so did its reach and ambitions. The parties started focusing more on local and regional artists, eventually branching out into pop-ups across Europe and the Middle East. Reflecting on this expansion, Alwan notes, "Then we started branching out and throwing pop-ups in the region and Europe in Amsterdam, Beirut, Berlin, and Tbilisi among other cities."

The duo's commitment to the scene also led to the launch of Boogie Box Records, a venture into the physical and digital realms of music distribution, emphasising Bass and Dub elements in House and Techno. This label was a natural progression for the brand, solidifying its place in the electronic music industry.

Celebrating 13 years, Boogie Box has evolved from a simple idea into a landmark in the music scene. "Before we knew it, and with a blink of an eye, we found ourselves celebrating our 13-year anniversary," says Alwan, a testament to their hard work and dedication. Looking towards the future, the team behind Boogie Box is not resting on its laurels. "This festival has been an idea we have been wanting to create for a long time. To build something that is representative of Boogie Box in a festival format," Alwan reveals, pointing to an exciting new chapter in their journey.

From the schoolyards of the UAE to the throbbing heart of the global dance music scene, Hassan Alwan's story with Boogie Box is not just about beats and rhythms. It's a narrative of cultural exchange, artistic passion, and the relentless drive to create something meaningful – one record at a time.


Boogie Box has announced the postponement of its inaugural festival at The Dunes in Ras al Khaimah, originally scheduled for November 4 this year. The decision reflects the organisers' ethical stance in response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Citing that their efforts are better focused on providing aid, the team assures a full refund for ticket holders and extends their sympathies to those affected by the situation in Gaza. Head over to this post to learn more.

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