A Cold War kid with capitalist tendencies. It is his diary of life, work, play and music beyond Iron Curtain...
19 September 2009
Kiev Nightlife (by Popular Demand)
I have received many positive and equally derogatory comments and mails after my testament against the sex tourism in Kiev and I think it is high time I paid my homage to the normal tourists and expats who have the best intentions to visit Kiev (for the churches, crumbling apartments and stinking Dnyeper beaches). This list is not, of course, a complete list of clubs because I am getting old and not a nightlife expert (anymore though), I also come to Kiev often but with a loaded business calendar (that would make Erich Koch's seem like a weekend trip) and hardly have energy to go back to my flat.
First of all, I knowingly disregard the gentlemen's clubs (or strip bars as you may call it anywhere else except Moscow and Kiev) because I am not a fan of this kind of entertainment and one can find a deep down analysis on the back of the "tourist" guides distributed democratically in the airport.
The first club of mention is Arena and it is conveniently located at the third floor of the entertainment complex of the same name. Normally an overpriced but interestingly affordable venue famous for its beers and its location in Mandarin Plaza, the very center of the city near Bessarabsky Market overlooking the newly defaced Lenin Statue on the crossing of Khreschatyk and Tarasa Schevchenko avenues. Arena is almost packed on Friday and Thursday and the packing material varies from prostitutes to the lost expats, the prices of drinks are over average and face control is said to have denied entry to many which verifies the aimless crowd wandering in the Mandarin Plaza terrace inside. It usually hosts guest DJs that you may never have heard if you don't spend your early teenhood in an industrial backyard off Arkhangelsk but the bpm is kept relatively high in direct relation with the prices.
Barsky, a chic neighbor overlooking the entrance of Arena, is a club that was hiding itself from the hordes of tourists last year but this year seems to have come to senses to steal some of the rich customers of Arena by live dancers near its entrance which is practicalyy 6 floors down. Past the face control there is a lift ride to a flavishly decorated club, which suggests that the owner of the club is either Russian or has been brainwashed somewhere deep in the Arabian desert. Another suggestion of the decoration with expensive looking gold and jewel clad furniture is also the pricing (though below Russian chic standarts) which is the highest in Kiev among its standarts. Be prepared to pay a 120 UAH for a cocktail and meet a lot of women with varying standarts of dignity and self-shame. The patrons of this club are (told to be) celebrities and debutantes so it may be a bad destination for a place to observe local entertainment. I have even witnessed a live vocal performance to a DJ set, which still denies my musical perceptive capabilities...if I have studied music theory, I would definitely find a term for this but I can sum up by saying that it was awful and equally absurd.
The Mandarin Plaza, view from Krasnaya Armeyskaya (Red Army)Street. Veterans of Red Army should still be sobbing to see this gigantic monument to capitalism rose in the center of Kiev.
Interior of Barsky
From the terrace of Barsky, watching the city sleep. I have met a bunch of "celebrities" there who welcomed and enjoyed my indifference to their celebrity-status
Patipa, a club with a weird name, is located at the other end of Khreschatyk and near the Dynamo Stadium. The proximity to the stadium should not deceive the reader because this club is a curious hybrid of all chic-wannabe clubs and a kindergarten. I personally think that a club should be personalised with its style of music so I don't usually go to clubs that host different kinds of music every other night. Patipa is a good example of such clubs which my partner-in-crime Jon would call "calenbars (short of calendar bars)". Every wednesday is a "Diskoteka 80-x" party where you can enjoy a delicate mix of soviet pop and europop of 90s (which I adore since the dark days of Moscow). The next day is a RNB party and dont go there unless you have a masters degree on slavic rap (some of my colleagues still have a curse on me for inviting them to Patipa on a Thursday night...what a mistake). Fridays and Saturdays are packed with a groovy crowd and the music choice varies from Tarkan to Tiesto.
Patipa Dancefloor...where all disco filth of Kiev accumulates
Another club is the notorious Decadence situated somewhere in the center on Shota Rustaveli Street. It is practically an expensive restaurant which surprisingly has a small dancefloor compared to its competitiors but this place has a flavour that invites almost all expats and locals with high paychecks to this place like flies to a streetlamp. I would definitely advise to networkers to dwell into this club on weekends to collect some business cards (if they can stand the drujm beating music, drunk millionaires and their equally sober golddigger girlfriends who seem like teleported from Milano Fashion Week seconds ago). Decadence is rumored to have the strictest face control policy (Check my facecontrol issue about Moscow) but any business suit or a ballroom dress would guarantee a way in and this attire would not flash in the club since everyone is dressed accordingly. The drinks are overpriced (just like Barsky) but I can say that they are also not watered down as expected.
Looks can be deceiving: This lavish restaurant becomes a decadence house where sinners are the winners
Avalon, a highly advertised multi-storied entertainment complex, houses a casino, a restaurant, a kalyan-bar (simply a floor full of cushions and a lot of hookah smoke) and two-story bar with a giant casette player decoration on the disco wall. It surprisingly gets full on even weekdays after 2 am and the crowd is a mixed one, ranging from Turkish "engineering" students (who cannot even speak Russian though they are "studying" there foır 2 years) to post office girls celebrating a birthday. The drinks are not expensive but the music is always a weird mix of soviet pop to Britney Spears.
Let's not overexaggerate the talents of DJs
Other clubs that I know of are Caribbean Club (advised to all mehikano-latino looking guys to dance salsa with local middle aged enthusiasts), Tsar Project (an obscure chic club near the Water Museum in Marijnskiy Park)and Hidrozone in the scary Hydropark area. Nobody advises to go to Hidrozone but it is still on the night club lists.
Note: Turkish Invasion strongly suggets you eat your vegetables, get some fresh air, go to bed early and stay out of drugs, alcohol and any other misconduct thet the former two may bring in Kiev.