Monasterio... What makes a club?

Words by: Lena Kochetkova
Posted: 6/5/13 10:46

Monasterio... What makes a club?What makes a club? The premises, the DJs, the equipment, the audience? The difference from just a dancefloor with speakers and a nightclub is approximately as big as the one between a house and a home. The new Moscow techno club Monasterio has that very “homely” vibe, speaking from a punter’s viewpoint, and sets high technical and artistic standards, if regarded by a professional. It doesn’t play along the rules of the local scene, patterning on the best of European underground – which is a daring and risky way, but it might bring most amazing fruits. Probably it’s a bit too early to call Monasterioa revelation” after just one month in operation, but it has all the makings to become one.

Monasterio’s building is a part of the oldest textile manufactory in the centre of Moscow that dates back to the end of the XVIII century. Lately it used to be a warehouse and was abandoned 10 years before being converted into a nightclub.

When its future owners first came in, there was no floor and people had to walk on beams laid above around half a metre of cold water. The roof was leaking and there were no windowpanes. Yet something clicked and the crew discerned in the ruins the outlines of their future venue. The repairs were made in stunning 4 months and in March the club opened its doors to break fresh ground in Moscow techno life.

There are two dancefloors – a big room and a bar space for afterhours. Huge figures of monks guard the dark entrance to a corridor with tiny confession-style rooms. Up the stairs there is a VIP mezzanine where all the DJs who are invited to play in the club leave their signatures on the wall.

Later on a rooftop terrace is supposed to be built, wooden panels will adorn the wall in the restaurant zone, a huge chandelier with candles will be hung over the bar space – let the club’s story unfold.

It’s a good idea to start a Monasterio night with a dinner. On the balcony there is a restaurant that is open 24 hours on weekends and till midnight on weekdays. Having examined a broad menu of salads, soups, pizzas, pastas and desserts, we tried rice with shrimps in wok and dim sums with spinach and beef, which were a cut above what you can expect to get in a nightclub. Panna cotta deserved a special praise for being just top-notch. Monasterio’s chef creates international fusion with best-sellers from Japanese, Thai, Italian, Russian and other cuisines and kindly allows the food to be taken away in bags decorated with Venetian masks.

RestaurantNo matter how comfortable the cushions and sofas in the dining room are, you won’t be too tempted to curl up after a meal. And it’s not just the rhythmical invigorative uproar of music that will spur you to check the dancefloor, but the astounding quality of sound.

People behind Monasterio are perfectionists. They wanted to have the best sound on Earth and invited specialists from London to get the newest Void Incubus in full installation. The foreign experts spent a hefty week in Moscow examining the building, carrying out calculations and considering whether they would be able to install their system. The Monasterio crew trembled with anticipation. If the premises by its characteristics weren’t capable to retain a perfect sound, Void wouldn’t have fitted it out here. Before making the final decision the London team drove everyone else out of the club and spent 4 hours on their own making the final estimations. Then they welcomed the owners back and said “Yes”.

A mighty and staggering system was installed on the dancefloor. It delivers a clearest sound and a deepest bass without overriding human conversation and using no more than 1/3 of its tremendous power. Void crew left in Monasterio special devices to clean it, prohibited to take pictures of certain parts of the system and required to send them weekly reports about the condition of their creation. By the way, DC10 rented a Void Incubus of this very kind for their 2012 closing and are going to rent it again for their opening this year, but no other club in the world can boast of having such a system on a permanent basis.

Void IncubusMonasterio’s name reflects the club’s strict music policy. Following Berlin’s template, parties at Monasterio start on Friday night and end almost on Monday mornings. Music is played 70 hours non-stop – unlike Ibiza, Moscow has no time limits for throwing parties. Saturday nights, called Chambers, display an array of barebone Berghain-style techno. Fridays bear the name Sanctuary and treat the guests with sexier, trendier, groovier music. This is how the DJ timetable looked on 26th of April (smoothly switching to 27th of April):

23:59 - 01:30 = Technorev
01:30 - 04:00 = Walker Barnard
04:00 - 06:30 = Guido Schneider
06:30 - 09:00 = Janina
09:00 - Afterhours Technorev + Golikov +++ All Day Long

In the morning one of the clubbers took a pen and wrote under the line with Guido’s name: “It was amazing set, like a nu emotional bomb, you’re really underground man! Thanx from Russian techno lovers!”.

Frankly speaking, Moscow is slowly but surely becoming jaded with techno. And, to be honest, only a few here realize the difference between techno and underground house. Anyway, the music that is played across the city under the umbrella term “techno” sounds more or less equally. Local promoters have developed a standard of sound that a relatively vast audience sticks to and book artists who can deliver something within the boundaries of this canon.

However, in Monasterio they book different and sound different. Their techno bears little resemblance with what you can hear in other Moscow venues. Multiplied by the power of Void Incubus, it creates a totally new, otherworldly sonic experience. It’s pretty congenial with what so many people travel to Berlin for, yet has its own distinct tinge.

Moscow is rife in good clubs. But there is an obvious deficit of cozy ones where you can hang out night and day without noticing how time flies. Such a club is an autonomous kingdom, or, if you are more into sci-fi, a parallel universe in the heart of the megalopolis. Coming in handy, Monasterio is exactly the place where you can safely and happily get lost in techno. Only thin sunbeams leaking from the narrow chinks in the shutters will tell you that the sun is already high.

Main Room Main Room
Photo by Fernanda Mattos: 

Rochdelskaya street 15/12
Moscow, Russia, 123022
Tel: +7 495 665-22-13  | 


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