Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Review: Garage (Гараж)

Opening Hours: 24 hours/7 days
Category: Post-Party
Feis Kontrol Rating: Moderate- 3/5
Address: Tverskaya 16/2
M: Pushkinskaya, Tverskaya
Phone: +7 (495) 650-1848

Garage is one of Moscow's longest-running clubs (since 1998), and is housed in a dark basement beneath a quasi-condemned building facing Pushkin Square. The automotive theme is evident from the rear-end of a old car mounted above the entrance door, and a couch and a few pictures downstairs, but everyone pretty much ignores it otherwise.

Although Garage is open 24/7, it has a lively crowd only on particular days of the week. It is pretty much the only place to be in Moscow after 2am on Wednesdays and Sundays (for its legendary R'n'B parties), and is one of the best late night places (after 5am) on Fri/Sat nights.

The crowd at Garage is a true cross-representation of the highs and the lows of Moscow's nightlife denizens. Despite this club being the antithesis of the glamour and excess of Moscow's top clubs, it is perennially popular with a certain segment of the "in" crowd, including a lot of the dancers, bartenders and managers of many of Moscow's top venues. By virtue of it being a lot more low-key than say, Dyagilev, it attracts "serious" party goers for whom the cheaper drinks and music focus on certain nights is more important than being in the "right" place. Since it's located around the corner from one of Moscow's other long-standing and illustrious institutions, Night Flight, a lot of the Night Flight girls (hookers) come by Garage after it closes to see if they can pick up a few more tricks for the evening. The cheap drinks and constant opening hours attract students, and it's longstanding existence ensures its coverage in travel guides, and so unsuspecting clueless tourists are also often in attendance (having paid off the security guys).

All of this makes a potent mix of the familar and downright random on any given night in Garage, which is part of the fun. The food is also pretty good, as are the kalyan's (hookah's) available 24/7. Some of my more entertaining Moscow dining experiences, (such as sushi off naked girls- mind the wasabi!) have also taken place here, as Garage has an enthusiastic spirit of innovation- even after all this time.

Like most Moscow clubs, Garage has gogo girls, although the cramped environment, low headroom, and somewhat less statuesque physiques of these girls makes it almost a parody of the larger clubs, and in some cases simply acts as a backdrop to the debauchery that's often taking place on the bars, the stage, and certainly the impromptu sessions on the stripper pole. The late night photos from Garage on Geometria have left many people a little concerned (and more than a little enlightened) about who or what they did the night before, I'm sure (see below).

Obtaining entrance to Garage can be downright painful. The feis kontrol (or lack thereof) has a reputation of being the most capricious and unpredictable in Moscow. Garage only has professional feis kontrol late night on weekends, and the other nights have party promoters, or the regular security goons on the door. Unfamiliar faces will often be turned away or hit up for "cover charges" (entrance to Garage is free), and even regulars will sometimes be randomly rejected. This can be pretty frustrating for such a downmarket place, especially on a given Tuesday when you know it's completely empty.

The club itself consists of two bars and a slightly separated dancefloor, adjacent to a stage with a stripper pole which is often put to good use by amateurs and professionals. The room further from the dancefloor has tables and is more of a chillout location to smoke kalyan and is primarily a hangout for the crew that seems to be here every night and seem to know everyone. The second bar is a good place to perch and watch the entertainment, and the dancefloor is the habitat for everyone from off-work professional dancers to partygoers stumbling around coming down from whatever substance they've consumed, depending on the day and time.

Overall, I find Garage to be one of the most entertaining and consistent venues in Moscow. The anti-glam and rough edges of the venue give way to a crowd of surprisingly warm and friendly patrons and staff, and I like to consider it the Moscow nightclub version of "Cheers".

Most importantly, it provides a place to party on Wednesdays and Sundays, and for this alone the unpredictable feis kontrol and excessive propositions from hookers are a small price to pay.

1 comment:

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