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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

When It's Party Time, Nobody Does it Better

The longer you live in Russia, the simpler your life becomes. If you arrived a relatively compound person with a variety of different characteristics and interests to your name, you've since pared down to the basics, peeling off layers of your former life one by one. Health is usually the first to go, quickly followed by things like temperance, discipline and intellectual pursuits. Sooner or later that taste for adventure falls by the wayside, and ultimately your pride kicks the bucket as well.

Shed of these lofty trappings, you are finally free to boil life down to its one essential element: your social life. What else is there? Oh sure, maybe vague distractions like jobs and The Future still occupy a fraction of your time. But essentially you've altered your orbit, living from evening to evening rather than day to day (the unemployed among us are lucky enough to make it a 24-hour pursuit). Maintaining a social life is more purposeful than it sounds. It keeps you fed, it reminds you to bathe, and it teaches you wonderful skills, like how to hail a cement truck on Volokolamskoye Shosse at 4 a.m. It's hard work, but it's worth the effort.

The natives, as usual, will flaunt their natural talent for constant feasting and fraternization. They are miraculous socializers, and going out with them is a lesson in inadequacy. Americans have the energy for partying, but we don't always have a lot of diversionary crafts. We can drink, we can talk (sort of), and some of us can dance, but other than a few more bottles of Finlandia, there's not much else we really bring to the event.

Russians, on the other hand, bring a sort of carnival-in-a-bag appeal to their gatherings. There is seemingly no form of nontechnical home entertainment they haven't mastered. When you get right down to it, Russia is just one big charm school, give or take a few needlepoint classes. Everyone, for example, can sing. There are no Russians with bad voices, and they all know hundreds of songs. So they will sing, song after song, each more beautiful and rapturous than the last. When they finally stop and ask the Americans what songs we like to sing at parties at home, we scratch our heads and bark out some dreadful version of the theme from "Gilligan's Island," or some such thing. The fact that we remember all the words doesn't seem to count for much.

In the course of the evening the Russians will also play about three instruments apiece, perform amazing card tricks, tell interesting stories, dabble in soulful nostalgia, and develop heartstopping sparkles of lust in their eyes. Then they dance. Russians have always been remarkably groovy on the dance floor, but glasnost, for all its other failings, seems to have loosened their hips and granted their arms a tight and powerful purpose. Their execution over the past three years has become impeccable. Who cares about pride when you've got rhythm?