Moscow is full of places that call themselves bars but that can be anything from a fine dining establishment or repository of rare Armenian brandy to a funky book-lined cafe or a grungy pub where the neighborhood gathers to watch soccer matches. The only thing they have in common is their willingness to serve you alcohol.

The Gay & Lesbian Nightlife Scene -- Whatever stigmas surround homosexuality in Russia, they fade as soon as night falls. Russia's clubs are among its most gay-friendly venues, and many hold special gay nights once a week. In addition, the gay club scene is thriving and evolving, though the hottest spots tend to be accessible only by word-of-mouth -- not out of fear of persecution, a likely and terrifying possibility in the Soviet era, but out of fear that the masses will find out about them and dilute their chic. Clubs change orientation and open and close frequently. The website Gay.ru has an English-language page (www.gay.ru/english) with up-to-date listings.

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