Swining with the best of the CIS!
No matter where you are in the world, if you want the best a city’s nightlife
has to offer, head to the gay clubs!
I learned this maxim first in University, where my housemate, Deans, and
I would go to “The Club.” See right there is the beginning of the truth.
They knew it would be the best place in town, way beyond the rest, so why
give it any other name. Located an old Firestone tire center, it took the
whole car theme to a new level, with coil spring bar seats, industrial interior,
and the highlight: car lifts remade into platforms where hunk male dancers
went from fully clothed to itty-bitty bikinis!
The music was always the best, and if it did get too much, there was a little
chill-out room with soft music, soft lights, and very soft couches you could
relax in. Deans and I would head there every Friday for the amazing Drag
Race, where grown men raced around trying to be the first to convincingly
dress in women’s clothes. They didn’t always make it past the mandatory vodka
shot stations in style, but they always kept their composure.
When I moved to DC, I was actually a bit intimidated by the size of the gay
scene there. I wasn’t in provincial America anymore, and these grown men
did not like posers. I kept to a few quasi-gay bars and clubs, shying from
the ultra-homo places like Badlands. I also was a little burn out on the
club scene by then, trying to steer clear of the recreational pharmaceuticals
that fueled my nightlife at the time.
I didn’t even know there was a gay nightlife scene in Moscow at first. Gays
have always been persecuted in Russia, with Stalin deporting them to Siberia
in mass. I only found out about it over time, from friends and the great
writings of the eXile. That’s when I first heard of Chameleon (or Xamelon
as the Russians spell it).
Chameleon reminds me of the greatness I remember in The Club. It has three
main rooms for the mixed crowds. One room is standard crappy Russian pop
music, and is filled with you average Russians having a good time. Another
room, much larger and more styling, has dancers in cages dancing to the cranking
house & techno music. Late Saturday nights, they have an amazing show
(a rarity in Russia!) where two men perform gymnastic feats with two ropes
attached to the ceiling. Of Course, their feats are a bit erotic to, which
makes it all more interesting! The last room, a “chill room” with a bar and
pool table, is only interesting in that it leads to the best place in the
entire club: the dungeon!
Down a winding staircase and past the bouncer who turns away all the ladies,
is a bar packed full of beautiful men. There is also a room showing gay porn,
a room with couches and swings, and a whole row of little rooms for private
“parties.” At first, I though the little rooms were toilets, with a urinal
and sink in each, until I noticed the opportunistically placed holes in the
wall! Enough said there.
Now, with the Chameleon experience fresh in my mind, I went south to Kyiv
expecting the same amazing style. Oh was I to be disappointed! I looked in
the local nightlife guide, “What’s On”, and read about a “unpretentious”
gay club called “Big Boy.” Well, with a name like that, I was expecting great
things! After a long walk from a distant metro station, I came across Big
Hmm. how to explain it to someone who hasn’t been to a bar in a House of
Culture? Ok, imagine a long rectangular room, with tall windows reaching
to the high ceilings. Perfect for plays, musicals, etc, but if you don’t
do any interior decorating,
shutting the blinds, there isn’t much hope in the gig. Big Boy at least had
a colored spotlight. One colored spotlight, but nothing else.
The music was pretty bad, I actually heard Phil Collins’ “Tonight, Tonight!”
A dance club playing Phil Collins?! Please! And the worst part of it all?
The men! A very poor selection of Russian men were trying to dance, none
with a sense of clothing style or musical rhythm.
With this to start with, how far can you really go?
I was so depressed, I wanted to leave the city that night. How could any
self-respecting gay man deal with such a scene? If I were a gay man in Kyiv,
I know I’d rent the apartment, dump the car, and sell the woman into slavery,
just to get to Moscow!