Dance Clubs & Discos
Moscow's club scene has been called the hottest, wildest, most expensive, and most offensive in Europe. It attracts top DJs from London and New York, top models, and plenty of uncontrolled substances. Although the industry has been driven by the excesses of Russia's new rich, it offers plenty of options for less affluent onlookers as well. Even if you're not a clubber, you'll find it worthwhile to get a glimpse into the world where modern Moscow absorbs and expends its energy. Be prepared for strict "face control" at the most popular spots, with jeans and athletic shoes inadmissible and men's attire appraised as carefully -- or more so -- as women's. The earlier you go, the shorter the lines and the more relaxed the door policy, but you're in for a long and possibly dull wait before the real partying starts, well after midnight.
The hippest places rarely remain so for more than a few months, so listings get stale fast. Check eXile newspaper (www.exile.ru) or The Moscow Times (www.themoscowtimes.com) for the latest hot spots. We've listed a few places that have stood the test of time.
Rock & Pop
Russian rock sprang from a semidissident scene of trading bootleg Beatles and Rolling Stones LPs, and has had a rough time evolving with today's freer-than-free Russian youth culture. A blend of ironic pop and Russian hip-hop has largely eclipsed rock as the soundtrack for the post-Soviet generation. The biggest Russian stars today masterfully blend the traditions of their pioneering rock predecessors -- lyrics tinged with Russian fatalism and melodies in minor keys -- with the latest mixing technology and a dose of humor. Beneath all this usually lies a musician with classical training.
Jazz & Blues
It sounds strange to look for jazz and blues in a land of Arctic frost and Slavs, but the search is worthwhile. Russia's version of jazz and blues is certainly its own, with its melancholy coming from a different kind of slavery and isolation. See the website www.jazz.ru/eng for a more detailed rundown.
Folk & Alternative
Traditional Russian folk music is best heard at seasonal festivals or at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. Less formal, more rock-tinged versions can be heard at the clubs we've listed around town.
Nightclubs & Cabaret
Several hotels have their own nightclubs, though quality varies widely. Cabaret-style shows offered by the international chains such as the Marriott hotels are certain to be elegant, pricey, and relatively sterile. Older Soviet hotels offer cabaret shows of stale pop music, a few chansons, and inevitably a topless or near-topless kick-line finale. A night at the theater followed by a colorful local bar will offer greater cultural value and more fun than such cabarets. Nightclubs (as distinct from dance clubs) are plentiful but often double as bordellos, and even the places that look chic or elite generally include a strip show. A favorite spot among many male expats is Night Flight, which you'll see vigorously advertised.
Getting a Taste of Russian Nightlife -- If you'd rather not stay up late or stand in line, try having a midday "business lunch" in one of the top clubs, which often have their own restaurants. It's a chance to glimpse the sleek interiors and a few of the glitzy regulars while you eat lunch, usually for a quite reasonable price.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.