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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

If Only There Were More 2-Gun Tangos

I'm bored. Moscow nightlife just doesn't do it for me any more. The masochistic thrill of cheesy, vulgar, bandit-riddan nightclubs has faded, to be replaced by a sinking feeling of disgust and an overpowering sense of snobbish revulsion.


I once thought that Moscow was a decadent city. The conspicuous consumption, the prostitution, crime and obscene wealth, all underpinned by a atmosphere of lurking violence and the suspicion that the money being thrown around was the product of shakedowns, shady deals and murder used to give me a thrill. The easy-come, easy-go mentality born of money made quickly and dishonestly made for a kind of pre-apocalyptic hedonism, like partying in Pompeii as the ash begins to fall. But now the novelty has gone.


Take Titanic, for instance. That place is the archetype of the New Russian club scene. The girls are beautiful, the music is good (in a pumping, mindless techno kind of way), and the decor is suitably trendy. I used to be drawn by a terrible fascination for Titanic; it was a kind of sociological fishbowl where you could see rich young thugs and their hotpants-wearing dyevushki at play. It was the same fascination that drew me to mafia-infested clubs in Belgrade in 1995, where you had to check your guns at the door and many of the big-shot Godfathers were accompanied not just by bodyguards but whole paramilitary units with heavy machine guns.


But the kind of fat-necked, stupid-looking Moscow bandit white-trash oafs who I once found amusing as they danced around in their sweaty silk shirts and pagers are now just annoying. So, they're arrogant jerks; I think we've established that. Now what?


There are still occasional moments of interest. A friend of mine was in Titanic recently when two thugs pulled guns on each other for a joke and started slow dancing with guns held to each other's heads. The security were on the scene in seconds, shotguns at the ready, and kicked the pair out, but not before everyone else on the dance floor had fled into the next room in panic. But these gems are few and far between; banal vulgarity is the order of the day, unenlivened even by exciting shoot-outs or police raids.


As far as I can make out, there is only one nightclub in Moscow that is free of both thugs and whores, and that's Chance, the gay club on Ploshchad Ilicha. The people there are more or less normal, trendy club kids. It has a kind of loucheness to it which reminds me of weird clubs I once went to in Amsterdam, full of a strange mixture of extravagantly dressed transvestites and straight-laced corporate types (no pun intended) letting their hair down. There is none of the oppressive cheesiness that permeates all the other dance clubs in town, which is refreshing.


Otherwise, there are still a few hangout-type places such as Krisis Zhanra, Bedniye Lyudi and Vermel, which are at least inoffensive and don't grate on the nerves. You can blend into the background, chameleon-like, and pretend that you're somewhere else. There is one promising new club, Paris Life, which opened last weekend at Karetny Ryad in the Hermitage theatre, which shows signs of becoming a potential bandit-free zone. The drawback is that the DJs are beyond appalling -- I found myself listening to a mix of the Macarena, Christmas carols and Auld Lang Syne. Very painful. The crowd is also of the Tabula Rasa variety and looks like a bunch of electricians and their dates out for a big night. But the bands they have booked are good, and the place may well outgrow its ugly duckling stage and become cool. We live in hope.