Social Movers Autumn 2016 – Chris Helmbrecht

Chris Helmbrecht

In terms of the nightlife, this summer was the worst since I started doing parties in Moscow 10 years ago. It’s not only that the crisis seems to have finally hit the middle class and people had to make a simple choice: will I stay in Moscow and slurp expensive cocktails or spend my money on a vacation (most likely in Russia). On top of all that, most Russian tourist resorts have become significantly more expensive. Some up to 30%. Long story in short: Moscow’s clubs and bars were pretty empty during the past 3 months, apart from the ‘street life’ in the Patriarchy Prudy area, which was shut down in the beginning of August by some rich guys living there, who were bothered by the noise. Many venues are frequently harassed by various inspectors and the narcotics police. There are various explanations in the scene. Some are saying that a large club owner wants to create a monopoly and destroy competition. Others are saying that a new man in the city administration has to show results. Others think that some clubs and bars were not able to pay their usual bribe money anymore and are therefore being put under pressure.

We are now moving into the last quarter and typically this is the best of the year. Somehow, I have the feeling that the downturn will continue and we will see a lot of venues closing. As for Russian guests who spend their money on an expensive vacations, they won’t be coming back to Moscow with full pockets and continue to spend it on cocktails. This is not rocket science.

So what is good these days? I would rather opt for smaller bars, since they feel full and alive. Anyway Moscow’s nightlife seems to be fragmenting further these days. Some old venues, like Simachev’s Bar or Mendeleev Bar are experiencing a comeback. Simachev’s features a trendy and fashionable crowd. Expect anything from disco to a techy house. Mendeleev Bar hosts the cooler rich and famous. All in black clothes, enjoying some underground ‘click-clack’ techno and tech-house. Heineken bar is run by the Pirumov sisters, who are among the coolest DJs in town. It featuring an excellent music (disco, funk & soul) and a cool open minded crowd.

There are also new venues, like the formerly private secret bar: Suzuran. It has freestyle hip-hop or (live) classic music on Wednesdays, live Jazz and acoustic music on Thursdays, a Berlin styled tech-house on Friday and underground tech(no) on Saturdays. In Suzuran’s the theme is: Drink your sins and its chef mixologist Alexey Komarov, will make your customized cocktail, if you tell him what your biggest sin is. Suzuran is probably the friendliest place in Moscow and you’ll immediately feel at home. But, first you will need to find it and that poses somewhat of a challenge, since it’s one of Moscow’s best kept secrets.

Berlin Bar, around the corner of the Mayakovskaya Square, will open in October and is a small boutique bar, featuring a very minimal design, created by an award winning interior designer from …Berlin, of course. The bar is covered with sidewalk blocks from Berlin’s streets and even the lamps are street lamps from Moscow’s German partner city. Of course the music program will reflect what is hip in Berlin’s clubs and bars. This will definitely be one of the hottest and coolest spots in town, visited by the fashionable and beautiful. Speaking of boutique bars. I haven’t talked about Noor Bar for a long time. This also has a very well styled bar and its mixologists belong to the best in town. Their music program is trendy and every night they have DJs playing there.

As for the club scene, there isn’t really anything new. So-Ho Rooms has been running the same entertainment program for 9 years and are still halfway successful with that in the millionaire circles. Artel Bessonnitsa covers Techno and Techhouse. Also in the ‘rich & beautiful’ segment. They have a really nice dance show, but also nothing really has changed, since the place opened almost 3 years ago. Yes, I am yawning while I write this. If you want it a bit classier, a nice mix of club and bar, featuring a Russian adoption of an Ibiza styled music, then Duran Bar is your place. Krysha Mira has the hardest door in town and is the best after-hour venue. Unfortunately, it has been a target of the inspectors, and often closed for various reasons. The best underground club ‘Konstruktor’ has to deal with the same problem. The current hot spot for after-hours is Gazgolder. The old venue also just made a comeback and features the city’s coolest hip hop during normal nights and tech-house during the after-hours.

So, we’ll wait for better times and enjoy a fabulous drink and some good tunes in one of our (small) favourite bars.

Here is my rundown of favourite places. Just google the ‘name’ + Moscow and you’ll find lots of information about any of them. If I didn’t mention your favourite hangout, I am either not a fan of it (or the people who run it), or I simply don’t know about it, yet. Write to me. I am always happy to get a tip.

Posh & Glam
So-Ho Rooms, Artel Bessonnitsa, Duran Bar

Suzuran, Mendeleev Bar, Berlin Bar, Noor Bar, Simachevs.

Party Bar (pop music & mashups)
Jagger, Gipsy, Rolling Stone Bar

Down & Dirty (expect girls from the suburbs and drunken guys)
Coyote Ugly, Kamchatka, Crazy Daisy

Krysha Mira, Gazgolder, Mendeleev Bar, Garage, Mix Club