Ismail Kassem may be most known for being the mastermind of Back 2 Basics, but the man is a workaholic and has his fingers in oh so many pies, including popular Korba bar, the Garden.
Never one to rest on his laurels, the back end of 2014 saw Kassem launch yet another brand into the party scene: the Inner Circle. The first edition of the exclusive party was well received and with the second party coming up on February 5th a yet-to-be-disclosed location in Zamalek, it’s a good time be to Ismail Kassem. Or friends with Ismail Kassem. Or be interviewing Ismail Kassem for the sole reason of making friends with him.
What was the thinking behind creating an ‘exclusive’ party like the Inner Circle?
Well I’ll let you in on a little secret. Originally, Back 2 Basics was intended to be the exclusive type of party concept and that was exactly how we launched it. If you remember, it was a secret location and only my personal friends were there. But the overwhelming popularity that B2B reached made it impossible to maintain this kind of concept so I had to go with the flow and accept that it has to be a mega event with people coming from all over the place to attend – which is an honour for me and the team, hence, the rebirth of our original concept, with a brand new name.
What are some of the challenges of organising something like the Inner Circle?
The Inner Circle members – A.K.A my personal friends!!! They don’t move in advance, they don’t book or call and they all show up at the end – after they’ve raise my blood pressure.
What does the upcoming Inner Circle have in store?
Well, we try to keep it simple. The best sexy Deep/Nu Disco has to offer in a very comfortable space with familiar faces all over the place going mental.
Mental is my middle name. If you could get rid of one thing from the Egyptian party scene, what would it be?
Pretentiousness. I really get annoyed by people trying to hold back their real personality or people who try to project a false one; they’re pretending to be someone they are not and it shows.
I hear ya. So, where do you see the Egyptian party scene going in the future?
I see a massive boom in this industry and I see major brands flooding in from all over the world to try and get a piece of this market. I also believe that our crowd will keep getting more educated about music, dancing and having a good time in general.
Kassem with Back 2 Basics regular, DJ Mohasseb.
You’re also one of the brains behind Adam’s Doner in Heliopolis – would you rather go to the best party in the world, or eat the best doner in the world?
I’m greedy – I want to go to the best party in the world then eat the best doner in the world on my way home.
Yeah, the one on the way home is always the best. But how do you manage with such a busy schedule with Back 2 Basics, the Inner Circle, the Garden and Adam’s?
Well it sounds a bit cliché, but I never feel like I’m working anymore. I love what I do and I surrounded myself with people that I trust and like.
Oh how I envy you – I’m not so lucky. What’s the best party you have ever been to?
Hahahahaha I had too many of those…
Hmmm, sounds like you have a couple of naughty stories – we’ll talk later. What’s your dream venue for hosting a party?
Well before I started, my dreams were big – but realistic. Now my dreams are even bigger and I’m sure they are not realistic! But if I’ve learned anything about ambition, it’s the fact that there is no such thing as a too big of a dream. One of my dream venues was Tamarai and we were able to host our second B2B party there. Another dream venue was Marassi North Coast and we hosted our second edition of B2B “Beach Bang!” there. Finally, the ultimate dream venue was Pacha Sharm and, as you know, our first NYE event was hosted there. Now when I think about this dream again I can only think of ‘The Island’ regardless the venue.
'Beach Bang!' 2014 at Marassi, Sahel
In terms of acts, who would be your ultimate dream booking?
Easy. Michael Jackson.
*Just to confirm; Ismail is aware that Wacko Jacko is no longer with us.
For more information about the upcoming edition of the Inner Circle, click here.