Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Garage Closes: The End of an Era

After 10 years of 24/7 existence, Club Garage finally closed it's doors last Sunday following a debaucherous party that was more akin to the final days of Rome than anything regularly staged in a Moscow club.

Love it or hate it, Garage has been a staple of Moscow club life for almost as long as there have been clubs in Moscow. It's legendary R'n'B nights on Wed and Sun drew a cross-section of Moscow's denizens: from billionaires to students, prostitutes to tourists, the regulars sometimes united only in one thing- their universal "Garage Love".

This small packed basement had been under constant threat of closure for the prior three years, since the building above it had been vacated and slated for redevelopment. The fact that this has finally come to pass in the midst of our "Krizis" and when all other development in Moscow has been halted almost comes as a cruel joke. Reportedly, the site will house a new 5-star hotel, which as much as MoscowMAXIMUM loves Garage, in all honesty is probably a better use for this prime Pushkinskaya location.

And what now for beloved Garage? Stay tuned, as rumours abound of a move to Polyanka, Kuznetsky Most, or yet another location, and a hopeful reopening in the months to come.

Until then, the battle-cry of "Garage Love Forever" will live only on in those infernal red shaker shots, available wherever the Garage tusovka congregate throughout Moscow.

For the original Garage posting and review, please see here.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Aquapark Kva-Kva: And Now For Something Completely Different

It's Christmas Eve, after midnight, snowing, and approximately -15C. How do we find some fun? Did someone say "waterslide"?

The logical answer, of course, is to head several km outside of Moscow to an (indoor) waterslide park, where there is a wild party with DJ's, dancing girls, and of course hundreds of people enjoying the waterslides, tubes, jacuzzis, wave pool, waterfalls, and of course- the music and alcohol.

Those looking for a example of the delightful randomness of Moscow could do worse than to lie back in the wave pool letting a fountain wash over you and observe the undulations of the dancers clad in club lingerie surrounded by shrieking young quasi-Muscovites hurtling down the python-like multicoloured tubes and consider how this all came to pass. Parties at waterslide parks are not exactly a new concept, but to do so beyond the city limits from 1am on Xmas morning, having transported the essence of a Moscow club to this godforsaken location, in the middle of a Russian winter? That's true Moscow innovation.

Aquapark Kva-Kva is located 2km past the MKAD on Yaroslavskoe Shosse, inside the XL shopping centre. It's a multi-story indoor waterpark housing no end of entertainment, with multiple caves, tubing pools, fountains, jacuzzis, and of course the requisite multi-story waterslides. My personal favourite was the wave pool surrounded by various fountains and jacuzzi's, which was the perfect location to dance, (attempt to) surf, or just observe or socialise with the hordes of enraptured water-clubgoers.

From this vantage point, the whole scene looked something like a Full Moon Party in Thailand that had somehow been kidnapped by giant orange and green snakes, and dumped in a snowy wasteland, the tropical location, cheap drinks, and lack of full moon at least somewhat offset by the abundance of scantily-clad devushki, the likes of which would inspire riots on Ko Phi Phi Beach.

The parties here are held fairly regularly, look for upcoming events on a site such as nightparty. The logistics of finding the place, getting tickets, entry, and sorting out lockers, deposits, etc, mean that I would strongly recommend having a competent Russian-speaker with you.

The crowd tends to be very young, and doesn't quite match the aesthetics of central Moscow, and the line at the bar means getting drinks is an absolute pain. However, it's a delightfully random night out, and if you're bored of the regular scene and are looking for something to remind you why you live in this wonderfully crazy country, I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Review: Kitchkoсk (КичКок)

Opening Hours: 7 Days, 11am-12am (Sun-Wed), 12pm-last customer (Thu-Sat)
Category: Bar, Lounge, Restaurant, Nightclub
Feis Kontrol Rating: Moderate - 3/5
Address: Petrovka Ulitsa, 21.
M: Tverskaya, Teatralnaya, Trubnaya
Phone: +7 (495) 642-0358
Website: http://www.kitchkock.com/

This difficult-to-spell location is one of the best openings of late 2008 and has already proved itself a massive success in its opening couple of months, especially as a weekend pre-party, with a creative DJ spinning original and creative variants to a packed house of a moneyed, older crew, who seem at home in the Petrovka triumphirate of Kitchkock, Simachev, and Chapurin (or even the hapless Most). Despite some name similarity to the famous filmmaker Hitchcock, the only similarity that I can see they share is a British (in Kitchkock's case: punk) theme that weaves its way throughout the bar.

Kitchkok's discreet entrance on Petrovka, next door to karaoke bar Dzhelsamino belies the expansive interior that awaits at the top of the stairs, itself promising much through a combination of exposed brick, chain handrail, and sparkling floor. The interior of the main level of this lounge/cafe/club is an attractive blend of comfortable couches in a faux-antique style, intriguing artwork (think large stuffed red vinyl bears), and the modern black-and-metal touches that seem to be required of all Moscow locations (think "Escobar" done right). The main room is bisected by a staircase that leads to an all-white VIP table & couches upstairs, and another small golden VIP room for private "events" and narcotics usage.

The room opens out after the staircase, avoiding the low-ceiling claustrophobic feel that afflicts many new venues in Moscow. The two-storey space is hemmed by a bar on one side (and another under the staircase), the DJ booth on another, and another staircase leading to another VIP table balcony. Adjacent to the staircase are the bathrooms, the small size of which is offset by the tasteful (and occasionally hardcore) lesbian porn on show above the men's stalls- making your aim into the stall a little difficult if you linger here too long.

It's not entirely clear yet what Kitchkock wants to be when it grows up. The restaurant is certainly tasty and reasonably well-priced, but this isn't a place that comes to mind simply for dining. It's the weekend evenings that really take off, with a crowd that comes after 10 to dine, dance, and drink to creative remixes (of anything from classical music, to 80's (U2?), to funk and modern house), and then move on to other locations after the clubs open, meaning Kitchkock is the perfect option to fill those times once you've finished dinner and before the clubs really start kicking in.

Kitchkok is managed and promoted by Zeppelin, meaning several of the managers (and Feis Kontrol) will be familiar from Most. The (kilt-clad) staff is friendly, the service (especially on off-nights) is efficient, and the prices are reasonable. My main criticism of the place is the tiny entryway at the top of the stairs and inefficient coat-check, making it a pain to get in or out of Kitchkock with any sort of efficiency.

Overall, Kitchkock is an excellent new addition to Moscow's nightlife, filling a needed niche with great design, ambiance, service and pricing, proving that even in these "Krizis" times, a great new place will find a welcome in Moscow.