Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Review: Barkhat (Бархат)

Opening Hours: Fri/Sat 11pm-last customer.
Category: Mid-Range, Megaclub
Feis Kontrol Rating:
Moderate - 3/5
Druzhinnikovskaya Ul., 15
+7 (495) 998-2838

Readers know that I will often review a club on its opening night. Some of you have pointed out that this can be unfair, as a club won't reach it's true potential (high or low) until at least a few weeks after it opened. Barkhat is such a club. After its opening, the first couple of weekends were so deserted, and the crowd that was there such a confused mix, that I felt it needed some time to find its niche. The club's design (despite its unfortunate location) had such potential, it would have to come good sooner or later.

Barkhat has now found its stride. A recent visit found it packed to the rafters with a mid-range, fun-loving younger crowd of students, putting it firmly in the league of peers such as Fabrique and Sabotage. Some further leveling is probably required (drink prices are still too high, and there were too many guys), but it has a great buzz and an increasingly dedicated group of patrons which will be essential in the thinning party crowd as the economic crisis starts to really bite.

Barkhat is located in an old movie theatre (still operational) in the location that used to house Club Infiniti. Potential patrons are shuffled into a makeshift pen for selection by (female) Feis Kontrol, reputedly members of the all-girl (think American Idol) group "Barkhat" for whom the club is named. Once through Feis Kontrol, you shuffle awkwardly through security, to the movie theatre entrance, ditch your coat, then angle left, past a lower floor chillout-style bar ("Karamel"), then up some stairs, and into the foyer for the club.

This navigation conveys a contrived feeling, movie posters are stashed in a corner, and folding stands are used to corral traffic. It has a similar feeling to high-school prom, when teachers converted the school gymnasium into an "evening venue" (please ignore the basketball hoops covered by a blanket), awkwardly concealing the building's true purpose.

Thankfully once you ascend the staircase, you enter the club proper- and the lights, smoke, DJ, and drunken people cavorting enable you to start to feel at home. A DJ booth hangs over the bend in the stairs, like a glowing gremlin gesturing you into a House of Horrors (but in the nicest possible way). At the top of the stairs, you can continue forward through this strange lobby-like area where couches, a bar, and bathrooms are located, as well as a branch off into a VIP-area, or proceed right, into the club proper.

The club itself opens out into a cavernous domain, a large stage on the right hosts shows and cavorting dancers, higher podiums house more dancers, a VIP upper level rings a long, narrow dancefloor, which contains (you guessed it) yet another podium for go-go dancers smack bang in the middle. Bars are located on either side of the stage, and VIP tables are crammed into any spare space around the edge of the room.

The club's elitny positioning, design, and drink prices betrays its mid-range clientele, but thankfully they don't seem to care. Cheaper mixed drinks than Opera mean that it's as much fun for a cheaper price, and who cares if the girls (and especially the guys) aren't as good-looking. Barkhat is all about over-the-top fun, and that's what it seems people are here to have.

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