|Getting warmed up…
|starting to cook..
|coming up to a boil..
||Ah, the night life of Moscow! As far as I can tell
that is the main reason quite a number of expats stay here past the
initial Wow Russia! stage. Yes, like Newsweek said last summer,
Moscow is happening!
Until quite recently, Russia did not have a club scene at all. The
communists were a little scared of crowds, and therefore only small bars
were allowed to operate. The bars were expensive, and never had
much beyond a few bottles of questionable beer, so people had dinner
parties instead. The Russian dinner party is similar to our dinner
parties, where everyone sits around the dinner table and gets drunk over
dinner. This tradition still survives here, and I find them much
more fun an exciting than our dinner parties. The Russians enjoy
honest, contentious conversation, unlike the fake small talk of an
American dinner party, where the number and intensity of arguments and
debates are proportional to the number of vodka shots served. No
matter how loud you are, or how tightly you have to hold the toilet bowl
later, as long as you speak your mind and accept you neighbours honest
opinion, no one holds a grudge the next morning.
I would go to Russian diner parties every night of the week, but my
job and limited Russian language skills prevent me from enjoying them as
much as I would like too. When I need a bit of that Western
decadence, I head to the clubs and bars of Moscow. Some of the
clubs here are amazing in the freedom the customers are allowed. The
most gratuitous is the Hungry Duck and it is so unique you’ll have to
read about it at The Duck. The
rest run the gamut from Rave to.. well, Propaganda.
Pilot is a standard Rave club, similar to Mars in Cocoa Beach, Fl,
and all the random whorehouses of the Rave club scene. Like Mars
it was an old movie theatre, now devoid of its seats, with a projection
screen showing computer animation instead of Soviet propaganda. Unlike
Mars, Factory Visuals was not there to give the animation the musically
choreographed twist the Factory is so famous for. Oh, also unlike
Mars the DJ was weak, and the
music was disjointed. He would play a few good rave/techno songs,
then put on a slow dance song, destroying the high energy, sweat
inducing, techno groove. I guess it does add the romance moment
missing from a techno night experience, but the dancing purist in me was
It could have been any random Rave club except for the strip show and
dance show. At 2 am, just when I was starting to find the super
groove, the music changed and out came a Russian dey’v. She proceeded to strip down to a
G-string (thong), dancing around the stage. She was followed by
several more women, in less and less (as if there could be less than a
thong) until full female nudity was on display. A few men braved
the moment and joined the women on stage, with one woman stripping the
man to his Speedoes and another woman running offstage to get away from
the freak. The women in our group were not impressed, and I was
kinda annoyed at the scene, but the Russian men could barely containing
themselves at the sight of bare breasts on the stage.
Before, and after, the strip show there was a dance show, women
before, and men after. The women were doing the Rebook Step, Class
#2, while the men were straight from New Kids on the Block, with a twist
of Marky Mark. I found it distracting more than anything, but they
were good visual instructors to the plethora of bad dancers. I
wish Soul Train, or at least American Bandstand was on Russian TV, then
there could be a larger percentage of decent dancers to crowd the floor.
Propaganda could be the best club
in Moscow, except for one huge problem. It looks like a regular
club, and the people are very European, but the music is horrible.
Every time I go there, I want to shoot the DJ. He ruins a
great club with his musical selection and mixing abilities. Prodigy,
the B-52’s, The Village People, and LL Cool-J should not be played in
that order, and defiantly should not be repeated twice in one night!
The bars are where this country excels. Russians know how to
drink, and they do it often. The bars can be Russian dives, devoid
of anything beyond a liquor rack, they can be New Russian theme
bars, with fake palm trees, or they can be more cosmopolitan than
anything New York has to offer.
At every metro exit, and on random street corners are the Russian
dives, complete with the dark tint windows and burly men standing
around. Once inside, the waitress will serve you a meal and a beer,
acceptable, but as tasty as the low prices will allow. Flashing
neon lights and bright paint will lead you to the New Russian bars.
Expect to spend all your money, and risk your life, while watching
groups of men in black leather coats brag about their financial
accomplishments and sexual exploits. If you know where to look, or
read the eXile,
you can be lucky enough to find the true gems Moscow has to offer.
One of my favorites, better than almost all of the bars I frequented
in the States, is Krisis Zhanra. It is hidden away on a back
street, and chock full of the next generation of the Russian
intellectual elite. Every time I go there I hear more
languages, and meet more interesting people than I ever have an any
Eurorail train. Korean film students, a German TV producer, and
the daughter of the mayor of Novgorod, to name a few. I think I, a
plausibly bi-lingual American accountant, am the most ignorant person
there in the afternoons I drop by.
Thinking about it, the night life is one of the main reasons I stay
in Russia too. Miami, DC, and the whole Orlando-Cocoa beach scene,
just can’t compare to the full frontal assault of a Moscow night!