Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Review: Solyanka (Солянка)

Opening Hours: Thu-Sat, 11pm-7am
Category: Lounge, Mid-Range,
Feis Kontrol Rating: Easy - 2/5 (depends on how you fit the scene)
Address: Solyanka Ul., 11/6.
M: Kitai Gorod
Phone: +7 (495) 221-7557

In the Summer of 2007, Solyanka semi-officially opened to "rave" reviews. Positioned as a more democratic alternative to Gazgolder, and aimed at Moscow's burgeoning Nu Rave scene, this club is often packed with more neon than a 1980's ski suit store.

It's hard to precisely articulate what constitutes the Nu Rave scene in Moscow (or perhaps I'm just too old and uncool to understand it), but it evidently involves finding truckloads of crap stuff from the late 1980's (think leggings, Atari t-shirts, bad sunglasses- pretty much anything neon), and wearing it out in public.

Since I couldn't find many decent photos of Solyanka online, most of the photos on this post are of the types of people who are there, like these guys on the left- don't they look like lots of fun to party with?

Solyanka is the epicenter of this Nu Rave scene, well, it plus newcomer Justo Bain Douche, which is more hipster, and less nu rave, but who cares, I don't like either of them. They take pretension levels to a new high, with patrons thinking that they're even cooler than all the glamorous losers who go to the megaclubs, which makes them even more pretentious. They look down at the poor little empty-headed bimbos at the other clubs, forgetting that they're the idiots wearing 1988 neon (in fact, J.A.B was screening "Back to the Future" the other night, and the fashion made me think that I was in Solyanka), not to mention the other weekend I swear there was some guy that looked like Michael J Fox running around with his puffer vest.

Varying tastes aside, Solyanka is certainly a great venue, housed in an old mansion (similar to XIII), thoroughly renovated to house a spacious venue with lots of interesting design elements. Through a gateway, you line for face control, and then if admitted, most pay 500 rubles (much has been made of a hipster club being one of the few to charge cover) and proceed to the second floor. The interior resembles a large apartment, with several rooms located off a long corridor. The nearest room houses a bar and some couches for chilling (a common pastime in this club), the centre room has more couches and tables, and then the main room has the DJ located in front of a large multimedia installation, a large open space, and some great windowsills on which people can perch when not dancing. At the far end is a larger bar facing a wooden slat wall, with large brass circular lights artistically arranged over the bar.

The overall decor is that of quasi 1950's space-age furniture juxtaposed with the old dilapidated grandeur of the building, and a couple of higher-tech touches which contrast both and work really well.

The DJ's tend to be more adventurous than the megaclubs, with a mix of electronica and grunge house mixed in with some of the same house as at other clubs.

As previously noted, the crowd tends to be younger, and aims for the hipster chic look, and fewer of the glamourous poseurs found in the pafosny clubs and megaclubs (these are more unglamorous poseurs). While there are still stunning girls and good-looking guys, the "edgy" look the club is looking for tends to value the Nu Rave look, attire and attitude over more "traditional" feis kontrol attributes, so there are definitely patrons whose aesthetics and waistlines wouldn't be welcome at Dyagilev.

Those who actively dislike the megaclub scene or are looking for a different scene will find a lot to like about Solyanka (and the food is pretty good too!). Despite it not being my taste, it is a quality venue, and extremely popular with the crowd it's looking to attract. Even I bregudgingly occasionally turn up for particular events, and have a good time at a great venue with great tunes.

Update: Some friends & I hit Solyanka for dinner last weekend, and while enjoying a pleasant (and great value) meal, we were duly informed that since Solyanka turned into a club at 11pm, feis kontrol would be patrolling the dining room, and we would be asked to pay the 300RUB cover. WTF? This strikes a new low for penny-pinching Moscow venues, but I guess this is what you have to do when you have 15yo patrons.

Review: The Real McCoy (Реял МакКой)

Opening Hours: 24/7
Category: Democratic, Bar
Feis Kontrol Rating: Non-existant for foreigners, otherwise Low - 1/5
Address: Kudrinskaya Pl. 1., (in the base of the Stalin building)
M: Barrikadnaya, Krasnopresnenskaya
Phone: +7 (495) 255-4144

The Real McCoy is a Moscow institution for expats and tourists alike. It is open 24/7, has virtually no face control, and usually has drunken girls topless on the bar by ~11pm Thu/Fri/Sat nights (and occasionally on other nights). There is no surer place to find a willing girl for the evening (of questionable virtue and aesthetics, but then probably so are you if you're there looking for her), except perhaps Boar House or Hungry Duck, and McCoy's has the benefit of a "no hookers" policy, so no matter how ludicrous the proposition you receive, it's probably not (directly) financially motivated.

Another great benefit of this bar is it has the largest and strongest Long Island Iced Tea's in Moscow for less than $10, which are a sure-fire way to start (or end) the evening.

McCoy's is located in the base of the Kudrinskaya Stalin Dom (one of the Seven Sisters), which makes it a unique place to visit, and is across the road from the Barrikadnaya Metro station (which may be one of the reasons so many of the podmoskovia girls who frequent it come from the NW of the city). Once through the narrow entrance, you find yourself with a coat check and the infamous unisex bathrooms on the left, and the main room to your right. The bar is on the left side of the room, with the dancefloor on the right, some tables and chairs towards the back, and a little-noticed door at the far end of the room leading back to another quieter room with more tables and booths. There is a sole window looking out at the world next to the dancefloor, through which passers-by can take note of the insanity inside, and routinely be flashed from girls inside the bar.

McCoy's maintains a faux-speakeasy decor, with hard wooden floors and rough-hewn tables with sturdy chairs (they would have to be, considering the abuse they get). There are advertisements from prohibition adorning the walls, and the bathrooms are papered with quaint advertisements from publications of the period.

McCoy's has surprisingly good food at reasonable prices. A mix of American staples and Tex-Mex, with some Euro favourites provides a hearty meal before some serious partying, and the low prices attract a diverse crowd of poor expats and ravenous studentki.

As a fan of Moscow Russkie-Pop and house music, one of my great letdowns about McCoy's is the music. Endless repetitions of tired old wedding music (think "Come on Eileen") grates on the ears and no number of Long Island's will drown it out.

Despite my earlier comment regarding the old & unattractive women who frequent McCoy's, there are a smattering of attractive students and even intelligent professional girls who, dissillusioned with Russian men or just up for a good time come there to meet foreigners, and they have far less of the attitude and pretensions of the girls at the pafosny clubs.

In my opinion, the most objectionable element of McCoy's is the profusion of sweaty, drunk, horny middle-aged male expats and tourists, which make quiet enjoyment of one's drink and amusement at the never-ending entertainment a logistical challenge for even the hardiest club-goer.

In short McCoy's is not everyone's cup of tea, but is certainly a diversion from the club scene and for someone looking for cheap drinks, a good time, friendly atmosphere, plenty of foreigners and available (generally) English-speaking girls, it's a fine place.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Review: GQ Bar (GQ Бар)

Opening Hours: 24/7 (Bar), 12-last customer (Cafe)
Category: Lounge, Pre-Party, Bar
Feis Kontrol Rating: Low - 1/5, Dress smart
Address: Balchug Ul., 17
M: Novokuznetskaya
Phone: +7 (495) 956-7775

GQ Bar opened with much fanfare in March 2007 as Moscow restauranteur extraordinaire Arkadiy Novikov's latest and greatest venture (in collaboration with Conde Nost Publishing- hence the name).

It was designed along a similar theme to some of his other restaurant/lounges such as Galereya and Aist, but on a more ambitious scale. The venue consists of a cafe-style restaurant (similar to Galereya), and a more upscale restaurant (similar to 2nd floor at Aist), as well as a long bar- which is the subject of this review.

In my opinion, the better scene at GQ is actually in the cafe, where there's more entertaining "see & be seen" Muscovites, hotter girls, and fewer lonely tourists and hookers.

To find GQ Bar, go right as you enter GQ, coolly dismissing the haughty greetings from the maitre'd's (who would have duly informed you that all tables in the empty cafe were reserved anyhow), and into a long narrow room, the decor of which is part throwback to the English gentleman's clubs of old, and cutting edge, with a bar made of crushed black glass, interwoven with fiber optics for some dazzling visual effects.

The long bar is lined with barstools for those in front, and some curious niches at either end, where you can actually sit behind the bar, confusing some patrons who try to order drinks from other customers sitting behind them.

Opposite the bar, the wall is lined with bookshelves and wine, there's a fireplace with candles, and overstuffed couches which take up far too much space. At either end of the bar is a staircase which takes you to a mezzanine on top of the bar where more lounges and tables are located. Barstaff are generally snooty, although somewhat knowledgable about the cocktails and food they serve.

GQ Bar is a popular pre-party spot on Friday and Saturday evenings, when it's packed from about 9pm to 1am, and the bar has gogo dancers and the music is amped to get the crowd in the mood.

You could fill a book with all the things I dislike about GQ Bar. First & foremost, it's an uncomfortable space, this long skinny bar gets very busy, and it's impossible to move through the crowd, or find a comfortable place to stand without getting jostled. The second floor mezzanine seems to serve no appreciable purpose, you might as well be marooned on Mars up there, since the view is not good enough to be a reason to sit there, yet the bar and music are too loud up there to be a nice secluded space to talk with friends.

The attitude and practices of the bartenders add further injury to the unjustifiably high prices, they routinely try and serve patrons Imperia (one of the most expensive vodkas at approx $40/shot), when they request a vodka mixed drink. I've personally had arguments where they have done this and then refuse to remake the drink with a reasonably priced (ie $20/shot) vodka.

The crowd is significantly older than most places in Moscow, and reflects a mix of over-the-hill hookers, visiting businessmen (one of the reasons for the oversupply of prostitutes), and others who think it's "cool" to be in GQ's bar (Note: it is still arguably "cool" to be in one of the restaurants). Hordes of tourists, who've read that GQ Bar is the "it" place to be throng the place gushing about how they were able to get past "face control", who are next to useless.

One of GQ Bar's redeeming features is that it is (like Galereya) one of the few (admittedly sparsely) populated places on a Monday or Tuesday evening, the nights that this city that never sleeps is practically clinically dead. The resident DJ is also usually pretty good, playing an appropriate mix of house for the chill environment.

Go and experience the pretension of GQ for yourself, post comments if you agree or disagree!

Monday, 24 December 2007

Review: Soho Rooms (Сохо Румс)

Opening Hours: Nightclub Fri/Sat 11-last customer (Restaurant/Lounge 24 hours /7 days)
Category: Ultra-Exclusive, Lounge, Bar, Summer, Pre-Party
Feis Kontrol Rating: Tough- 4/5
Address: Savvinskiy Bol. Pereulok 12., Str 8 (entrance off Savvinskaya Nab.)
M: Sportivnaya, Frunzenskaya (none, really)
Phone: +7 (495) 988-7444 (Restaurant); +7 (495) 988-7474 (Nightclub); +7 (985) 410-8841 (Luba- Guest-List)


For the last few weeks, Moscow has been getting a glimpse of what's to come once Soho Rooms officially opens for New Years Eve. This extraordinary venue already offers a spectacular ground floor bar, a beautifully appointed second-story restaurant, a spacious third-floor lounge, and a discreet cocktail bar. The nightclub finishes construction and opens this weekend, and in Summer Soho Rooms will open a spacious Pool Terrace, offering gorgeous views across the River and towards the White House, and no less than two swimming pools. All of this is housed in a purpose constructed location on the foundations of an old silk factory.

It is evident from the attention to detail and high-class finishes that the (undisclosed) budget to open Soho Rooms was considerable. From the liberal useage of marble, an onyx bar, the exquisite paintwork and luxurious furnishings, the owners have sought to position Soho Rooms as a very high-end venue.

Soho Rooms is the brainchild of Dmitriy Braude, longtime owner of Garage, and veteran of the Moscow nightlife scene. He is joined by two financing partners and D’lux Promo (Opera, Shambala), and the team have definitive views on the type of place they want Soho Rooms to be. Not content to open yet another nightclub, or even nightclub/restaurant, they seek to create a new type of Moscow experience, a venue that can cater to the various tastes of Moscow's high-end crowd, whether they seek to relax on a summer deck or in the lounge, have a delicious meal (they have imported a chef from the US White House and Asian chefs for their fusion), or party till dawn.

This product and service offering is designed to fill the notorious "dead space" of a Moscow evening, the early evening (pre-dinner ~6-9) and the post-dinner/pre-pre-party time (post dinner ~11-1). It's an ambitious plan, and if they pull it off, they really will do a service to Moscow and make this place an obligatory stop on the Moscow circuit.

From the entrance and requisite feis kontrol on Savvinskaya Nab., adjacent entrances for the restaurant/lounge and club funnel people into the appropriate coat checks and interior. Heading left into the bar/lounge, a two-story open room lined with floor-to-ceiling windows (containing gogo dancers on the sills) and lounge tables on the left is framed by a opulent staircase descending on your right. At the base of the staircase, a bar and some standing space for people to congregate is surrounded by more tables and the DJ booth (yet to see if DJ booth/style and gogo dancers will be there after the club opens). Hanging overhead is a beautiful optical glass/light fixture. In a small anteroom to the right of the base of the stairs a small banquette allows people a respite from the hubbub.

Proceeding up the stairs, the second floor restaurant is spacious and modern, with warm hues from the golden onyx bar and African hardwood panelled roof. I have not had a chance to dine here yet but what I saw looked good (almost as good as the girls dining there).

Proceeding up another narrow staircase to the left brings you to the third floor and a quieter lounge-type environment, more befitting to a chat with friends or a quiet cigar. The sumptuous yet simple furnishings complement the artificially aged tapestry-like walls. The lounge looks out onto what will be the Pool Terrace in Summer (with yet another separate entrance), and itself has a nice view up the Moscow River.

Back at the entrance, proceding straight ahead, you pass the main bathrooms (a manager stressed that the clubs design focused on ensuring sufficient bathroom and coatcheck space), which are inventive for the women's bathrooms being located on a mezzanine above the men's, ensuring both a good view for the men looking up and the women looking down as they survey the scene.

The club itself is a typical two-story rectangular design, with large open dancefloor surrounded by an upper floor balcony, enclosures for gogo dancers, a retractable stage, and large bars on both sides of the dancefloor. As the club was still under construction last weekend, I can't comment much on the design. The unique feature of the club is the spiral staircase leading up into the roof, leading to another swimming pool, as well as bathrooms and changing rooms, for those who would like to swim during their nightclubbing (and who doesn't?). The club is well-sized too, designed to be much smaller than the megaclubs (slightly smaller than Most), to ensure quality feis kontrol.

It's far too preliminary to be able to adequately review the establishment and its prospects but first impressions are extremely positive. The crowd was a stunning mix of mostly friends-of-friends of the owners, but everyone seemed to be having a great time. The DJ spun some original and refreshing mixes and the drinks were more reasonably priced (but only just) than Most or Rai (and thankfully they have Red Bull!).

Potential pitfalls for the venue include it trying to go too far to satisfy too many areas of Moscow's tastes, because above all, Moscow is fickle and things get old quickly, so the execution of all aspects will need to be exceptional. It's a very big venue, and especially once other areas open in summer, maintaining feis kontrol will be tough, else it will experience the same quality deterioration as Rai, now too-often populated by 15-year-olds or male patrons who bear closer resemblence to simians than clubbers. In some areas of the bar, it was already a little difficult to move past people, even with the limited crowds of the last couple of weekends.

I look forward to visiting again once the nightclub (Disco Room) has opened, to try the restaurant, and see how the establishment settles in, but overall, this is the best new concept and new venue I have seen in a long time (and I've been impressed with Most (but not most)).

Problems with feis kontrol? There's always 1171 down the road.

Update: Jan 2008

I had the chance to dine at Soho Rooms recently, and I was shocked. The food was adventurous, well-presented, and absolutely delicious. This website does not typically review restaurants, but our meal was too good to pass unnoted. Chef Tim Freeman (imported from Texas of all places) has concocted an elaborate (too adventurous for most local diners, I fear- would recommend adding some "safe" items) menu which combines mostly foreign flavours into true fusion cooking, the likes of which I haven't often experienced in my time in Moscow.

If you have have the interest and time (it takes a while), permit Tim and his sous-chef (from the Phillipines) to take the lead and provide you with the dishes they feel like preparing- I can guarantee you some delicious surprises, like special sorbet prepared at the table using liquid nitrogen, or Szechuan buttons that numb your mouth. I can't remember the last time my taste buds were truly engaged by a Moscow meal.

The restaurant is a little dim, and it's not a cheap meal, but if there are more delights to come from that kitchen like I experienced on my first visit, I'll certainly be a regular at the Soho Rooms restaurant.

So... Thumbs up for the bar & the restaurant- looking forward to the nightclub!

(FYI- please note that I am not being compensated in any way by Soho Rooms, it's just been a long while since I was this excited by a new venue in Moscow!)

Update: Feb 2008

Soho Rooms "Disco Room" Nightclub is finally open! The swank new club exploded onto the Moscow scene with perfect timing, two days after the flaming destruction of Dyagilev (coincidence?). The already almost impassable Savvinskaya Nab. has now almost completely ground to a halt as hordes of partygoers assail the doors of Moscow's newest club sensation.

The club is accessible through a separate entrance, although so far the club and bar are intermingled (a bad thing in my opinion if you read below). Through the main doors, a lower level to your right houses the men's bathroom, while a mezzanine directly above is the women's, complete with Juliette-style balcony for the ladies to watch the world go by. Past a large mirror (in Moscow- what else?) and the coat check is a discreet cocktail lounge, perfect for a slightly more intimate discussion with someone you've met in the club- a nice detail many clubs fail to offer.

It's a little too early to pass judgement on Feis Kontrol, but aside from the timing and flow issues (again, mentioned below), the crowd so far on the nights I've been there has been high quality, with plenty of gorgeous girls attracted from some corner of heaven who aren't regulars on the Moscow club scene. Natalia Vodianova, Lucy Liu, and Marat Safin were all in attendance this last weekend (although not together- an interesting mental picture).

The club itself is beautifully done, as with the rest of Soho Rooms no expense has been spared on design or decor. Once through the entrance corridor (a cleverly mirror-lined passage which refracts lasers in every direction), the club itself opens in front of you. The first impression for those used to Opera, Dyaglilev, etc, is that it's really small. The simple rectangular layout of the space with a two-tier design (VIP tables upstairs and at the back of the main room), bars on both sides of the main floor, and part of the floor taken up by a (retractable) stage and a dancer podium makes the capacity about half that of Most, at a guess. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the overall large size of Soho Rooms as a whole and management's stated desire to keep tight feis kontrol means the club is appropriately sized for it's intention to be an exclusive party venue.

Most surfaces of the club are done in sparkling black, and the comparatively restrained design, furniture, and lighting bear more than a passing resemblance to Most, but without the basement exposed-brick feel. The most extravagant gimmick is the (as-yet unused) spiral staircase to provide access to the roof terrace and pool in summer. Combined with a kick-ass lighting system, the decor, dancers and layout works, especially with the thoughtfull addition of enough bar space that's it's straightforward to get a drink from the friendly bar staff.

The DJ line-up I've seen so far has been a mix of the regular top Moscow DJ's, with an occasional rotation by some lesser-known and slightly more progressive names. The three nights I've been there, they have persisted with the peculiar Moscow tradition of having some one-hit wonder group (usually imported) interrupt an otherwise great DJ set to croon their song, and then let the crowd down by attempting something else quasi-creative while the Russian-only speaking crowd shuffles uncomfortably. Thankfully (unlike Rai), they have at least had current one-hit wonders! Maybe this type of show will only be for the duration of opening parties, but admittedly the space is perfectly sized for some intimate and proper concerts on non-weekend nights with real stars, should they wish to pursue this route.

The club's only failing so far is that it's still finding it's soul. While it's a great space with great music, crowd and dancers, it took till well after 2am on Fri/Sat to really feel like a party. In my opinion, this is partially due to the challenge it faces being attached to a popular dinner and pre-party space. Rather than other nightclubs who have a crowd waiting outside from shortly after opening so they can quickly fill the space, patrons (unusually for Moscow- overwhelmingly male) dribble in from 11pm onwards out of the bar and restaurant, giving the space a half-full, guys-only feel well into the evening. Hopefully this will be sorted soon, and the Disco Room will be a complementary addition to the excellent Soho Rooms venture.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Review: Night Flight (Ночной Полет / Найт Флайт)

Opening Hours: 7 days 9pm-5am (Restaurant 6pm-4am)
Category: Democratic
Feis Kontrol Rating: Low - 1/5, Dress nicely
Address: Tverskaya Ul., 17
M: Pushkinskaya/Tverskaya/Chekovskaya
Phone: +7 (495) 629-4165

Despite this site's focus on reviewing the latest and greatest of Moscow nightlife and its nightclub scene, I hope to ultimately cover most of what Moscow has to offer, and where better to start than the longest-running and most famous of Moscow's nightspots- Night Flight? (Besides, this site gets so many visitors deposited from Google searches looking for Night Flight, the demand is obviously there).
Let's get one thing straight- Night Flight is not (and nor does it really pretend to be) anything but what it is- a hooker bar. People generally go there to pick up prostitutes. This is not my area of specialty, and I can't vouch for the quality of any of their services or expertise. What I will say, is that from a purely aesthetic point of view, while there are plenty of attractive girls there, many are somewhat past their prime, and my understanding is the hottest girls available for this type of entertainment are best found at strip clubs like Bordo, Safari, etc. (again, not my area of expertise).

If you're not looking for hookers, there's only three (OK, maybe 2.5) possible reasons to go there:
1) The Scandinavian restaurant upstairs is actually really good (no, I'm not kidding).
2) If you're new to or visiting Moscow and you've never experienced a hooker bar before, it's worth it just to visit for a drink (included in the cover charge). The experience of being fawned over by dozens of gorgeous women with eye-opening proposals (sometimes the only English they know) is pretty entertaining.
2.5) If it's a Monday or Tuesday night and you're REALLY stuck for anywhere to go that has any life or people at all, then I've heard this as a justification to be at Night Flight (but I don't believe it)

Photos: Night Flight

Friday, 21 December 2007

Review: Gazgolder (Газгольдер)

Opening Hours: Occasional
Category: Ultra-Exclusive
Feis Kontrol Rating: Ultra Tough- 5/5
Address: Nizhniy Susalniy per., 5
M: Kurskaya
Phone: +7 (985) 226 33 40

The almost mythical nightclub Gazgolder can be a refreshing break from the intensity of "glam" Moscow nightlife typified by Dyagilev, Opera, and especially Rai. While the club attracts some of the same crowd, the "typical" Gazgolder patron tends to think of themselves as more hardcore "old-school" Moscow nightlife denizens attracted more by the eclectic mix of DJ's and uber-chic design of the club, not to mention their insider knowledge of when the club will actually be open. (whether this is true or not you'll have to visit and judge for yourself!)

Gazgolder is located in the remains of an old gas distribution facility, nestled behind the Kursk railway station. The dilapidated circular red-brick gas storage towars and deserted broken-paned factory buildings surrounding Gazgolder (and it's oft-mistaken sister establishment Gazgallery) lend the setting an eerie disquieting aura, making you long for the warm glow of the lights and music emanating from the club's interior.

The first challenge you face should you wish to visit Gazgolder is finding out when it's open. Since early 2007 the club has officially been closed, but is regularly open on particular weekend nights (as well as occasional weeknights for semi-private events like most Moscow clubs), usually to showcase a visiting prominent DJ.

The second challenge is finding it. The club is not marked, and some nights there is no external evidence that there's actually a club at that address, although the recent demolition of an adjacent structure now leaves the main entrance exposed to the street.

The biggest challenge is its legendarily vicious feis kontrol. Although (unlike Krysha), the club doesn't work off a strict list, they act (and often say) as if they do. Here an edgier fashion ensemble may assist (as opposed to "who can wear the biggest designer logo" at Rai), and it definitely helps to know someone who's a regular. The often female feis kontrollers are highly efficient and pleas fall on deaf ears, so on the bright side there's rarely any line outside.

Once inside, the charm of Gazgolder becomes apparent. The club's decor is a raw red brick industrial space decorated with opulent furnishings, overstuffed couches, ornate mirrors, chandeliers, and carved tables. It's done extremely well, and creates an impression of more of a New York-style club than the excess of typical Moscow nightclubs. Like at it's frequently-compared cousin Krysha (the two share a similar crowd and penchant for illicit substances), Gazgolder eschews gogo dancers, stage performances, acrobats and paid models in favour of a more serious focus on the DJ and the typical electronica or house-type music that is most popular here. That said, the venue and crowd is certainly beautiful enough that you don't feel like you're missing anything.

The main room contains a number of couches and tables before it gives way to a large dancefloor (and conveniently-located mirror), behind which the DJ is housed on a stage-like recessed room.

It's easy to miss Gazgolder's other floors or it's outdoor courtyard, since access to both is hidden at the far end of the smaller room's bar. A narrow staircase leads to an upper floor, where a side room is often crowded with people looking for or taking part in various stimulants, acts of passion, or both. The main attic-like room at the end of the corridor is my favourite place in Gazgolder, a DJ spins a mellower but still danceable mix of tunes in an environment that is much more like a lounge-room than nightclub. Couches draped with devushki, and tables are scattered throughout the room, and a seemingly ad-hoc bar provides patrons with much-needed refreshment. The gabled roof with thick wooden beams reaching almost to the floor and the old wooden floorboards make this homely environment a great place to chill, meet new friends, or take a break from the downstairs craziness.

Gazgolder tends to get going early, if you turn up around midnight you generally won't be in an empty room, as at other clubs, and it often goes very late, although as mentioned previously, a lot of the patrons will make a trek to Krysha later in the evening.

The crowd itself is pretty friendly, but often slightly aloof with the smugness that they are the cultured, cool, and artsy crowd that wouldn't be seen dead at Dyagilev (despite that fact that you'll see them there the next evening), and protest that only Gazgolder, Krysha, Solyanka and Justo Bain Douche are worthy places to party in Moscow (you know who you are). As usual, if you can overlook or ignore this attitude, then there are some really interesting people here, and you're actually more likely to have a worthwhile conversation in Gazgolder than the Megaclubs, where people running around like dogs in heat in search of something to fuck are more likely to start humping each other on the dancefloor than communicate using something resembling words.

Aesthetically, the crowd is at once more homogeneous yet more diverse than at the megaclubs. The slightly older (men at least) average of late-twenties to mid-thirties mix has fewer of the super-old and super-young found elsewhere, and the mix of stunning models and young golden youth is supplemented by an artsier and (presumably) intelligentsia crowd that can be visually (and legitimately) entertaining.

My overall opinion is that Gazgolder is an excellent, if unpredictable venue (it can sometimes be largely empty). It makes a great alternative to the megaclubs (think of it as the "Winter Krysha"), and is also a great place to head if fell you're not quite up for the insanity of a megaclub.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Ghosts of Moscow Past: The CLOSED Clubs

Moscow moves quickly (so quickly I'm surprised Dyagilev is still around, it's over a year old).

Seriously, I opened a "Moscow Club Guide" published in March 2006, and of the 12 "nightclubs" listed, only seven remain open (and this includes Propaganda, Night Flight, and Che).

I'm constantly surprised by the number of hits on this site by people searching for Leto (Лето), Osen (Осень), and Zima (Зима). These clubs closed years ago. If you want the same type of experience, go to Dyagilev!

To help avoid confusion, I leave nightclub reviews of closed venues on the site, but in the links to your right, they're listed as "CLOSED".

The Girls of Moscow Nightclubs

OK, after so many requests, it's time to write (or at least post photos) of what you all apparently want to see: Russian girls.

Yes, it's true. Moscow's nightclubs have some of the most beautiful girls in the world.

There are the professional go-go dancers:

And another couple of everyone's favourite Anka:

And on the other, scores of "regular" girls:


And every night, some of these girls have the urge to bare it for the camera:

Come to Moscow and see them for yourself! If you want to watch some more from afar, site's like Geometria, Cityparty, 44100 and elite can satisfy your soft-porn voyeuristic fantasies.