Thursday, 17 May 2007

Review: Rai (Рай)

Opening Hours: Fri/Sat 12am - ~7am
Category: Megaclub, Ultra-Exclusive
Feis Kontrol Rating: Tough- 4/5
Address: Bolotnaya Nab., 9. M: Polyanka, Kropotkinskaya (neither very convenient)
Phone: +7 (495)/364-0101, 767-1474, 230-0035
Website: http://www.clubrai.ru/

The name of this club in Russian means “Paradise”, and apart from the drink prices, this place can come pretty close to it on the right nights. Moscow’s newest mega-club (opened Feb 2007) is also one of it’s largest, and it packs a big crowd.

In a city that defines opulence and over-the-top design, Rai outdoes them all. Rai is club promoter Andreas’ brainchild, and it’s evident from the clubs interior he has an active imagination! Rai is located in a large tent-like structure on the Bolotnaya Naberezhnaya, and unless you feel particularly compelled to crawl past the entrance and gawk, or have a particularly demanding devushka on your hands who doesn’t want to walk, you’re better off getting out of your vehicle on Serafimobicha Ulitsa and walking down the embankment.

Fighting your way past crowds and strict but consistent Feis Kontrol, you’ll find yourself in Heaven, the entrance bar to the larger club, Rai, which is located behind a further set of doors (and sometimes another set of Feis Kontrol). To your left is Elysium, an event space which to date doesn’t seem to be heavily used.

Heaven is a spectacle in itself, with a long bar on one wall wrapping around a façade on which is mounted an enormous serpent, as well as cavorting naked nymphs and mermaids. On the opposing wall, ubiquitous dancing girls frolick above the bathrooms, which are numerous and spacious enough to the varied requirements of every patron. A narrow bench and some tables wrap themselves around the walls, providing a welcome and (rarely for Moscow) free place to sit for a while and get to know your new friends a little better.

In another place, Heaven would be a perfectly adequate and interesting bar in itself, however it pales into insignificance next to Rai. Pass through the doors into Rai, and Paradise reveals itself. Rai is an assault on the senses, from the sheer size of the club, the lasers reflecting off the thousands of mirrored surfaces and otherworldly shapes, the semi-naked (male & female) dancers, acrobats, fire-breathers, unicorns, elephants, and more. A raised stage lies in the centre of the main floor, upon which various dance sets, quasi-striptease, and occasionally credible live acts appear. A lower row of tables rings the dancefloor, and a series of upper balconies hosts more of the same, as well as the requisite VIP section towards the far end of the room. A series of consistently decent (although with some variability) DJ’s play a solid but fairly unadventurous mix of modern Russky-pop and dance hits.

Of course, one person’s Paradise is another’s Hell, and Rai is far from perfect. Aside from the afore-mentioned drink prices (Rai may not be the most expensive drinks in Moscow, with a basic beer or mixed drink around 500R ($20), and prices going significantly higher from there, but it does stand out in my mind), my most significant complaint is that while Rai certainly attracts the beautiful people of Moscow (the same tusovka often frequent Dyagilev, Opera, etc), the vibe often seems more akin to the now-closed First, where people seemed more inclined to stand around checking each other rather than getting down dancing, drinking and having a good time. Additionally, the sheer size of Rai means that it needs a LOT of people to make it seem full, and Feis Kontrol have been known to be a little more lenient early in the evening just to fill the club, and things don’t really get jumping with the requisite talent until around 3am, well after some of its competition. Finally, for a brand-new club designed by an experienced team, Rai’s design has its flaws. Tables on the upper VIP balcony can feel so far from the action it’s like you’re in outer Siberia, while the narrow and long design of the main dancefloor mean that people are constantly crowding past each other (partly intentional), and leave limited space to dance without being (unnecessarily) jostled.

Overall, Rai is an outstanding addition to Moscow’s megaclub scene and is a must-see if you’re visiting Moscow. If you live here and enjoy Dyagilev, Opera, or First (RIP), chances are you’ll find some things to like at Rai.

photos: 44100.com; cityparty.ru

1 comment:

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