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Midnight in Moscow
July 25, 2006 9:44 AM   Subscribe

Moscow's decadent post-Communism nightclub scene. Stalin's yacht pushes up the Moscow River at eight a.m., and nobody cares if you missed it. The world's longest-running after-party just keeps going. In a shipboard ballroom, Russia's lucky few tend to their good time. Music like a lot of loud nothing pounds through the girls lathered in Valentino, Gaultier, and Bulgari. Defying you with their eyes, they throw off a kind of heat that has never burned you before. The men with money and new style hang around the edges with satisfied smiles, their low-vibrating calm punching through thousand-dollar sunglasses. They'll kiss you, they'll kill you, you'll know where you stand.
posted by fet (50 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Gini index-tastic.
posted by asok at 9:50 AM on July 25, 2006


Metafilter: They'll kiss you, they'll kill you, you'll know where you stand.

(had to get that out of the way....)
posted by Floydd at 9:55 AM on July 25, 2006


Vice Magazine just did a Russia issue, so ahead of the curve. So is Russia becoming the ultimate definition of new money? Does all those years of capitalist oppression render it hornier than a freshman girl with a fake id that just broke up with her long-term boyfriend before moving to college? Though you have to admit, this late 70s like exhuberence and carefree attitude does sound kind of fun. Does anyone have any personal experience? Is it all euphoric and like Studio 51, where you had Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra and Jackie O all mingling together?
posted by geoff. at 9:58 AM on July 25, 2006


From ALdaily.com:

Want to buy a fake vacation, medical degree or “Siberian purebred” alley cat? In Moscow, anything’s possible, as long as you don’t care if it’s real...
posted by fake at 9:58 AM on July 25, 2006


That may be the most depressing thing I've ever read.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:04 AM on July 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


In Moscow, anything’s possible, as long as you don’t care if it’s real...posted by fake

Heh.

Moscow sounds like Canal Street.
posted by jonmc at 10:06 AM on July 25, 2006


Of related interest: Gulag rock: Russian 'chanson' puts Soviet era to song, by Sophia Kishkovsky (this is a somewhat abridged IHT version of the original New York Times article, which is now subscription-only).
posted by languagehat at 10:08 AM on July 25, 2006


Well that was quite the wank-fest of an article. What a hard-on this guy has for money, waste, and exploitation.
posted by jokeefe at 10:09 AM on July 25, 2006


I'm in Moscow right now, and I can only vouch for having seen the fake documents being sold on the Metro. The ads are everywhere.

As far as the new rich/partygoers mentioned in the post, I don't know if anyone here is rich, famous, or connected enough to get in to those scenes. I've been to dozens of discos dancing (some rather expensive, but always only for the men) and I've never seen anything like that (though in the clubs I have seen a lot of black male strippers- quite the novelty here - almost feels like home in the Midwest).

About it being the definition of new money, maybe. The gap between the haves and have-nots is so huge and so ridiculous that it's scary. I have half a fucking American salary and I'm a fucking loser here. And you often see the new rich making complete asses of themselves. I was at Gorky park a few weeks ago watching this gold-studded guy with a bodyguard and a hardbody blonde destroying a Ferrari in a parking lot. He was just stomping on the gas, trying to get the wheels to smoke but obviously didn't know how it was really done, and was just trashing the thing.

I suppose that's all anecdotal evidence though.

In smaller towns, it's not like that. But Moscow is it's own place, with it's own rules, it's own corrupt police, and it's own New Russians.
posted by fake at 10:10 AM on July 25, 2006


As long as we've got an expert here..

the building I work in here in New York also houses the offices of a Russian language cable station. No matter what time of day I walk outside, the Russians are outside smoking. Is chain-smoking that popular in Russia, too?
posted by jonmc at 10:13 AM on July 25, 2006


Music like a lot of loud nothing pounds through the girls...
Music like death fills this caramel interior...


This is the most tortured writing I have ever had the displeasure of skimming.
posted by prostyle at 10:17 AM on July 25, 2006


A bit more information . I would also recommend Alexei Yurchek's 'Gagarin and the Rave Kids' for an interesting take on the post-perestroika rave scene.
posted by BillJenkins at 10:20 AM on July 25, 2006


Enjoy your VD, comrades!

/Stock response to any Wild Party Scene FPP
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:22 AM on July 25, 2006


"Fifteen years ago, there wasn't a single club in Europe's largest city."

This would be incorrect.

I spent 3 weeks in the summer of 1987 in Moscow and another 3 weeks traveling around the former Soviet Union.

There was at least one nightclub in Moscow (I'll have to check the pictures at home to tell you exactly where it was). It had a 1970s' disco feel to it, but still a nightclub.
posted by Bqaggie87 at 10:22 AM on July 25, 2006


Fifteen years ago, there wasn't a single club in Europe's largest city. There were only a few restaurants. Think of 1991 as Year Zero. The Soviet Union fell that Christmas, and that soon kicked everyone off the dole. Free-market capitalism and the oligarchs' personal armies took over, and a country's life savings vanished, followed by murder in broad daylight, house music, privatization, freebasing. Yeltsin handpicked Putin and nobody got thrown in jail, nobody who wasn't asking for it.

Well, that's quite the revisionist take on the collapse of a country's social networks. I don't know what is served by this voyeuristic exaltation of brutality and cruelty; anybody who has actually had to be on the receiving end of power as it is wielded by sociopaths would have something else to say, I'm sure.
posted by jokeefe at 10:23 AM on July 25, 2006


I was under the impression that boat drives YOU!
posted by dr_dank at 10:28 AM on July 25, 2006


Is chain-smoking that popular in Russia, too?

In Moscow and Obninsk, the two cities where I've spent the most time, almost everybody smokes. Especially women, a large percentage of young and old women smoke.

Not really chain smoking though.
posted by fake at 10:28 AM on July 25, 2006


A bunch of hot Russian women have emailed me and want to find true love. Maybe I'll ask them for the honest take on this scene?
posted by NationalKato at 10:40 AM on July 25, 2006


Vice Magazine just did a Russia issue, so ahead of the curve.

I'm pretty sure the Exile was way ahead of that, geoff. There's an article floating around talking about the start of the Exile during the great late 90's party scene in Moscow; I'll see if I can find it...
posted by suckerpunch at 10:40 AM on July 25, 2006


Isn't metafilter meant to be the best of the web? I read this a month ago in a real paper magazine I bought off a newstand. I paid full cover price too.
posted by rhymer at 10:54 AM on July 25, 2006


I paid full cover price too.

Sucker!
posted by c13 at 11:04 AM on July 25, 2006


The Vice guide to Russia was written by a guy who writes for the Exile. I didn't bother comparing any other of the bylines, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were more overlap.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 11:12 AM on July 25, 2006


"It's like the French notion of faire montrer. It's better to look like something than to be something. It's a very Eastern way of thinking," he said. "I know people here who have not very much money at all, but he will buy a very big car so that other people will see that he's rich, he's powerful."

So interesting this new Russia. After decades of holocaust and massacres ordered by Stalin, the oppression under the KGB and a Big Brother life for over half a century under Communism and after the outrageous excesses under the tsars...a vast group of people in a huge psychological mess.

In the late 1980 a couple of young (21 and 20 year old) Russian hustlers, George and Slav, came to NYC from Leningrad, which returned to it's old name St. Petersburg. I got to know them as fellow street vendors. They first sold vintage Russian posters on the street. I taught them basic English and the basics of merchandising from a table. In 5 years they were millionaires. I'm still a street vendor.

George coralled immigrant Russian artists living in Brooklyn and sold their paintings outside the very rich St. Bart's Church on East 49th Street, Park Ave., right across from the Waldorf Astoria. George was the slick con artist and Slav his brute body guard. What a team. They left NYC in Armani suits after creating two outdoor markets on 42nd Street, one on the corner of Fifth Avenue, charging vendors $3000 a month for a small stall and the other between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. Prime real estate. George's entrepreneurial skills were astounding. He was a Trump wannabe. They left America with a wake of quasi-criminal mayhem and George now runs a Hari Krishna center in Russia, drives a really expensive car and is a millionaire in the New Russia.

I think Russians now, former USSR survivors, are going through a kind of adolescence, working through their materialsm, nihilism and profound cynicism.
posted by nickyskye at 11:21 AM on July 25, 2006


"Fifteen years ago, there wasn't a single club in Europe's largest city."

Anyone who could write that sentence has obviously never seen The Exile (as linked above).

Hmm, on googling we find: "Brett Forrest, a former Michigan Daily sports editor and now a New York City freelancer..." The guy failed at sports editing and is now cadging jobs like this, writing about topics concerning which his ignorance is practically infinite. Перестань мне ебать мозги своими глупостями!
posted by languagehat at 11:29 AM on July 25, 2006


Yeah, this guy is pretty bad at the whole writing thing. Make it up! Make it spicy! Yeah!

I hear Yekaterinburg is a fun place lately though.
posted by blacklite at 11:45 AM on July 25, 2006


Well, that's quite the revisionist take on the collapse of a country's social networks. I don't know what is served by this voyeuristic exaltation of brutality and cruelty; anybody who has actually had to be on the receiving end of power as it is wielded by sociopaths would have something else to say, I'm sure.

What's revisionist about it? Do you mean that Yeltsin and his entourage and the oligarchs were grateful for getting power? Or do you mean the persecuted oligarchs? You can read a lot of things into that blurb, but revisionist is hardly the term to describe it.

The article as a whole is supremely disgusting.
posted by azazello at 11:47 AM on July 25, 2006


Sucker! Perhaps. But I'm not holding up a feature that was published two months ago as new and exciting. Also I bought this "magazine" (which is a bit like a bound, high printout) to read on a flight where I discovered that as well as being surprisingly current, paper based products are also delightfully portable and require no external power supply. £3.50 well spent I'd say.
posted by rhymer at 11:48 AM on July 25, 2006


sorry, should read "high-quality printout"
posted by rhymer at 11:53 AM on July 25, 2006


The writing in that article was like some 6th former trying to be Tom Wolfe or Hunter S Thompson. I had to give up because it was frankly embarassing.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 12:02 PM on July 25, 2006


That was painful to read. And I only read the first paragraph.

That said, if Vanity Fair is writing about it, it must have been a great scene. Five years ago.
posted by bardic at 12:05 PM on July 25, 2006


Read it. Great example of an article that tries to get by on loopy writing (Too cool for you to understand!) when it doesn't have the facts and reporting to form the foundation of a solid story.
posted by sacre_bleu at 12:07 PM on July 25, 2006


Vanity fair can kiss my ass. All they do is spread status anxiety.
posted by mert at 12:08 PM on July 25, 2006


Isn't metafilter meant to be the best of the web? I read this a month ago in a real paper magazine I bought off a newstand. I paid full cover price too.
posted by rhymer at 1:54 PM EST on July 25 [+fave] [!]

Good for you. I didn't.
posted by juiceCake at 12:10 PM on July 25, 2006


I'm getting the faintest whiff of Jayson Blair/Stephen Glass from the piece.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 12:16 PM on July 25, 2006


Пизда! I like!
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:22 PM on July 25, 2006


Speaking of Russian nightclubs, if you want to see what your name looks and sounds like in cyrillic , you can consult this site. (NSFW)
posted by mert at 12:25 PM on July 25, 2006


Good for you. I didn't. OK, maybe you didn't read May's VF. So what? That doesn't make it wrong or obnoxious to expect something a little more current and, failing that, better contextualised than a single link to a two month old magazine article, which is hardly Pulitzer winning stuff in the first place. Given the relationship that weblogs are supposed to have with the traditional media, this seems, well, a little lame and a little passe. That's all.
posted by rhymer at 12:41 PM on July 25, 2006


What's revisionist about it? Do you mean that Yeltsin and his entourage and the oligarchs were grateful for getting power? Or do you mean the persecuted oligarchs? You can read a lot of things into that blurb, but revisionist is hardly the term to describe it.

azazello, I meant revisionist in the sense of an utterly skewed perspective that renders the events barely recognizable, i.e. "murder in broad daylight, house music, privatization, freebasing [...] nobody got thrown in jail, nobody who wasn't asking for it." The WTF-ness of that string of words is pretty high. I probably shouldn't have used the word "revisionist", though, as it has a pretty specific political meaning wrt to Russian Communism. Perhaps just simple "one-dimensional delusional bullshit" would have sufficed.
posted by jokeefe at 12:52 PM on July 25, 2006


rhymer writes "That doesn't make it wrong or obnoxious to expect something a little more current..."

It is wrong (and a little obnoxious) to go on and on about it in the comments, though. If you're really intent on having this discussion, have it in Metatalk, please.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:57 PM on July 25, 2006


Nightclub stories in 1970s America were a little dodgy, too. A little.

So it's a grand tradition.
posted by dhartung at 1:02 PM on July 25, 2006


Russians seem to resemble hiphop personalities. It's also noveau riche defined.

Clearly the moron who wrote it is quite envious of all it, though.
posted by ninjew at 1:06 PM on July 25, 2006


mert, That was naughty. lol

"Russia's Craziest Bars". More. Reviews by travellers.

Moscow, Russia: 2006 Crime and Safety Report
.

Recent stories out of Moscow. "killing wealthy banker Ivan Kivelidi in 1995 by lacing his telephone with a toxic substance." "Police Find Sex Slaves in Institute Building". More.

More recent crime stories from the eXile, "Moscow based alternative newspaper".
posted by nickyskye at 1:33 PM on July 25, 2006


Come on...

Moscow's decadent post-Communism nightclub scene.

The world's longest-running after-party just keeps going.


After Party, indeed...

And with this kind of pun possibilities, I find the lack of Soviet Russia references in the article disturbing.
posted by qvantamon at 5:05 PM on July 25, 2006


В Советской России, мозги ебут тебя.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:12 PM on July 25, 2006


When reading about the party on Stalin's old yacht, did anybody else think of the party in Gravity's Rainbow that takes place onboard the Anubis?
posted by Afroblanco at 6:13 PM on July 25, 2006


I want a yacht piloted by a creepy lexan-encased plastic mockup of a former dictator.
posted by ninjew at 8:29 PM on July 25, 2006


Afroblanco, Yes!

Krrrlson
, Cоветская Россия мертва. Новое начало.
posted by nickyskye at 9:20 PM on July 25, 2006


Seeing as how Denis Salnikov has left Moscow, the club scene there is probably dead.

What is an elitny to do?
posted by afu at 10:38 PM on July 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


Defying you with their eyes, they throw off a kind of heat that has never burned you before. The men with money and new style hang around the edges with satisfied smiles, their low-vibrating calm punching through thousand-dollar sunglasses. They'll kiss you, they'll kill you, you'll know where you stand.

A topic that would interest me greatly, but that's some pretty crappy writing right there. Going to have to pass.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:09 PM on July 25, 2006


Also, my father is well-connected, and when I ask him to help me out on something, he usually can just press a button and it's done. Even the eXile isn't immune to my father's influence.
- Denis Salnikov
posted by pwedza at 11:27 PM on July 25, 2006


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