A weekend journey through Moscow nightlife

Words by: Lena Kochetkova
Posted: 4/12/12 9:21

Moscow appears at the center of this nighttime image photographed by the Expedition 30 crew aboard the International Space Station © Image Credit: NASAMoscow might be probably less famous for its nightlife than Ibiza or Berlin, but almost every weekend the city offers a wide choice of parties with massive line-ups.

In the last years Moscow party market became oversaturated and now the number of clubs and events has been shrinking as a consequence. Yet the promoters try to do their best in bringing amazing DJs to the city, both the big name ones and the representatives of the underground scene.

Last week we undertook a thoroughly journey through Moscow nightlife, starting with Thursday evening and finishing on Sunday morning.

We chose Propaganda as our first destination – opened in 1997, it is often called “mother of all the Russian clubs”. You can have a nice meal here from midday till 11pm, and after that Propka (the affectionate abridgement of the venue’s full name) turns into a full-fledged dancefloor.

The entrance is always free, but there is some kind of face control, which seems pretty reasonable taking into consideration the moderate size of the venue.

Thursdays by Sergey Sanchez are by far the most long-playing and the most popular event in Propaganda. Started in 1998, they go non-stop every week ever since.

Marc Houle at Kepasa #1.On November, 22, Propaganda had James Dean Brown, the integral Berlin-based member of Perlon family, as a headliner. A deep and bouncy warm-up set was performed by Spieltape, a promising Russian DJ. He managed to establish an impressive contact with the audience, which even caused a hitch when James Dean Brown came to play. The headliner’s sound turned out to be so solemn and powerful that the crowd needed some weighty 15 minutes to adjust themselves to it. Such monumental techno could easily fill a room 10 times as big as Propka, but finally the DJ and the audience came to a consensus. Thursdays by Sergey Sanchez always make a promising start for the Moscow weekend, and this was no exception.

On Friday we headed to “Kepasa”, the first event of a new series of parties. “Kepasa” is meant to happen not in the clubs, but in unusual one-off locations – like, for example, Fashion Store Air right in the centre of Moscow. On November, 23, its line-up sported Dave Vega and Marc Houle.

Compared to the Berliner we heard last night at Propaganda, Dave Vega sounded less pompous and more playful. Marc Houle picked it up briskly, displaying the superb schooling of the Minus crew.

Since the event was supported by the Russian record label Highway Records, its artists Asaga, Acos CoolKAs, Lipelis and the label’s owner Mike Spirit also contributed to the musical landscape of the night. Even though the place was not packed to the brim, guestlist only entry guaranteed quite a cozy atmosphere.

dOPNovember, 24, was a no-brainer – Arma17, probably the best and the most famous Russian club. Opened 5 years ago in an industrial area, it accommodates around 3000 people and is renowned for a more than consistent music policy. The entrance ticket usually costs 500 rouble (around 12 euro) and the face control assiduously screens those who don’t seem savvy enough music-wise to fit in with the vibe.

This Saturday Audiofly, longtime favourites of the Russian audience, brought to Arma17 their Flying Circus party for its 5th anniversary. The duo played in the Gallery room preceded by dOP (live) and followed by Petre Inspirescu. Audiofly are aiming at introducing more live acts to Flying Circus, and in compliance with this goal the two smaller rooms, Bar17 and Studio, hosted lives by Juju & Jordash, Kyoka and Robert Lippok.

We arrived at 3am just to catch dOP starting their live. The French trio surprised everyone with a much lower swagger then usual. Their singer Jaw behaved as a good little darling, didn’t bare his trunk and, what seemed almost improbable, didn’t drink vodka handing bottles to those dancing near the stage. The gig seemed rather bleak if compared to the previous scintillating trademark deliria by dOP.

Flying Circus 5th anniversaryFortunately, Audiofly more than made up for it. The duo took a firm grip on the room and absolutely justified the expectations of a crowd hungry for some proper dance. First the guys played together, then Luca left and Anthony headed to the Studio for an afterparty set which grew into a back-to-back with Konrad Black.

Arma17 afterhours end late in the afternoon – at the opening of the new clubbing season in September, Richie Hawtin was reported to be dancing there after his set until 6pm, having lost his plane and canceled business meetings. But since we were already pretty tired, we left the club at 10am, thus rounding off a weekend full of house and techno music.

Recently a popular Moscow magazine published an article investigating the nightlife history of the Russian capital from 1991 till 2012. It states that the city’s clubbing culture is dead and no one is seriously interested in DJs anymore. The most popular way of entertainment now is to get properly drunk and dance to the well-known pop hits of the last two decades.

The article has caused a lot of noise and in many aspects sounds indeed true to life, yet the situation is not necessarily that gloomy. It can’t be denied that only a small part of the huge city’s population really understands what the clubbing culture is about, but these people are rather committed and enthusiastic. If you are after quality electronic music, Moscow offers you a chance to visit a decent party almost every week.

Propaganda Moscow
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