Moscow's nightclub scene is varied and absolutely incomparable. While the city can't boast of a particularly innovative or edgy live music scene, when it comes to clubbing, Moscow has no peer.
In all facets of life, Moscow is all about "more". Whatever is biggest, most expensive, most exclusive, or most beautiful is "it", and nowhere expresses this better than Moscow's club scene. The over-the-top decoration, acrobats and dancing girls of Rai, Dyagilev and Opera, and the secrecy and exclusivity of Krysha and Gazgolder are testimony to the success of this strategy.
Thankfully, if strutting Barbie Dolls and middle-aged wannabe oligarchs aren't your thing, there are plenty of other fun places to get down and party (Fabrique, Propaganda, Sorry Babushka, Vodka Bar, Garage and Karma Bar, to name a few) .
Unlike some cities (notably New York), Moscow is not a seven-days-a-week party city. You can find some fun on Thursday, and occasionally Wednesday or Sunday, but you're mostly out of luck (please email me if you know otherwise) other nights of the week. Thankfully, Moscow more than makes up for it on Friday & Saturday nights, with parties going well until mid-morning, and leaving clubs around midday is not unusual.
On a typical Moscow weekend, people dine late, around 9 or 10pm. Some "in" restaurants are visited by promoters from some of the Megaclubs to distribute flyers or CD's, which promote whichever parties they are holding that weekend, and which can also act as invites to assist with passing Feis Kontrol (more about this later). Around midnight, people often head to a pre-party bar (popular options include Bar 7, Indus, and Sorry Babushka) to meet up with friends and get into the clubbing mood.
At some point, either at the restaurant, pre-party bar, or at a nightclub, you're going to have to deal with Feis Kontrol (Face Control), basically the guy who decides if you look beautiful, cool, or wealthy enough to go into their club. These guys can be brutal, separating friends, couples, or just simply denying entry. More on Feis Kontrol in another post, but be ready with a backup plan if you're planning to hit a tough Feis Kontrol venue (see my Feis Kontrol rating's included in reviews). If you are asked for a "Club Card", this is often their polite way of not letting you in.
Most clubs open their doors around 12am, so most people plan to hit their first club around 2am, once things start to get busy. Depending on the scene, the party, or where your friend's are, you may wish to go to other clubs too. Most places start to wind down (and refuse new entry) around 5am, but won't actually close until 7am or later. Exceptions include Krysha, Garage, and Mix, who really only start to get going around 4/5am, and will go much, much later.
Virtually no Moscow clubs charge cover, but in any of the megaclubs or ultra-exclusive places, you can plan to pay anywhere from 350-550 rubles ($15-27) for a beer or simple mixed drink, so it is not a cheap lifestyle.
Many a Moscow clubbing night ends up at one of Moscow's many 24-hours cafes, popular choices for post-club dining include Cafe Courvoisier, Starlight Diner, Etazh, and many more. Once you've drunk, eaten, and copulated more than you thought humanly possible, it's time for a few hours sleep before getting up on Saturday to do it all again, or on Sunday to figure out what happened to all your money and brace yourself for the coming week...