Saturday, March 23, 2013

Top 10 Sin Cities: #6 Moscow, Russia

What happens when a culture that has been bottled for decades finally gets uncorked? Insanity. You’ll find every kind of nightclub -- from hardcore techno to rock to trance -- jammed with people from across Europe. Do you want to find a long-term thing? No need to mail-order when you can meet a wife at clubs and strip clubs near Red Square. Prostitution is illegal, but punishments are often paid off with rubles. You’ll see prostitutes out in the open at tochkas (outdoor markets for prostitutes) or at the city’s clubs.

Also check out The Hungry Duck. A bar that runs ladies’ night three times a week with male strippers for two hours, and then lets men into the club once the strippers are offstage. It has been shut down repeatedly for lewdness and public sexual acts. And your party fuel? Only one of the best vodkas in the world. Comrade, your revolution starts here.  

Strip Clubs
Striptease is big business in Russia and seems almost as much a part of nightlife culture now as vodka and Euro pop. Russians have made from pole dancing not only an erotic but also an acrobatic act. If you want to admire attractive ladies and enjoy professionally choreographed dances be prepared to pay high admissions for a correspondingly high quality of stripping. Extras like a lap dance, dance in a private room or a special request such as a lesbi-dance, shower shows, retro pioneer themed strip or whatever else floats your boat, of course cost extra.

Erotic massage 

The places listed here have strictly ‘no sex’ policies, these are just sexy massage parlours where you can relax under the expert hands and body of a pretty naked lady and look forward to what they like to call a ‘very happy ending’. Erotic massages can range from a classic sensual rub up, to underwater, soapy, honey and even a show massage which may involve more than one girl. Couples massages and massages for women are also available. We once send a mystery guest to an erotic massage salon who came back with such enthusiast stories about the ‘healing hands’ that touched him he still tells these stories abroad.

At reputable escort and model agencies you are paying for the companionship of a nice looking lady. You may also choose to take her for a drink, to the theatre or for dinner or just for a long walk and a chat.

For men (or women) wanting more, take into account the following advice. Again, keep in mind that officially prostitution is illegal. We do not recommend picking up women or prostitutes at night along Russian streets or boulevards, especially if you do not speak Russian. Apart from running the risk to get sedated and robbed, it might be dangerous for your health too; Russia has an increasing rate of HIV.

It might happen that you meet a one-night-stand (or your future wife) in a club or a bar – some expats run into new adventures every week. Be aware that it is not always clear if this is a paid ‘love’ or not. Be careful inviting women to your home after your first chat and watch your drinks carefully… We know stories of guys bringing a nice Russian lady home and waking up the next day with an enormous headache, an empty wallet, an empty fridge, no laptop, and even the washing powder stolen!

Top 5 Moscow Clubs

1) The Hungry Duck
Address: Pushechnaya ul. 9 (next to Kuznetsky Most Metro) 

2) Boar House, Doug + Marty’s
Address: Zemlyanoi Val 26 

3) Voodoo Lounge
Address: Sredny Tishinsky pereulok 5/7 

4) Paris Life
Address: Karetny Ryad street 

5) Night Flight
Address: Ul. Tverskaya 17 

The Gay Scsene

“The night belongs to the gay men of Moscow,” said a gay resident of Russia’s capital city. “It’s the only time we live our desires freely. Nobody can take that away.”  He’s referring to Moscow’s small but thriving group of gay bars. Some are familiar to just about everyone in the city, while other remain underground. And all of them are packed with men who need to blow off some steam — on the dance floor and otherwise.

Russian society has changed drastically this past decade. Moscow has one of the most vibrant nightlife scenes in the world, along with brand new shopping malls, expensive boutiques, and fancy restaurants. All this happened too quickly for some segments of society, and while Europe continues to break barriers in terms of gay civil rights, Russia has yet to extend some of the most basic protections to its gay citizens. So, while same-sex activity was decriminalized in 1993, the country's continued homophobia is no secret. Moscow's Gay Pride parade has been banned repeatedly, and gay rights protests are met with violence from the police.

The seventh attempt to hold a gay pride parade was again blocked in 2012, and Moscow's top court upheld a ban on gay pride marches in the Russian capital for the next 100 years. The Russian gay rights campaigner, Nikolay Alexeyev, had hoped to overturn the city council's ban. The Moscow City Court refused in December to review that decision, defying a ruling of the European Convention of Human Rights. This came even as five skinhead youths had burst into one gay club in October to beat up people inside. In an incident soon after, two foreign vistors were attacked in the street for appearing to be gay. The ECHR is expected to meet and discuss Russia’s report in March 2013. Police arrested protesters in January 2013 who objected to new Federal legislation to control "gay propaganda" -- following the enactment of similar local laws in St Petersburg.

Meanwhile, pockets of acceptance exist and even flourish in the former communist empire, at least in the capital and St Petersburg. Life goes in the bars much as always, although with fewer gay establishments in St Petersburg than in the recent past. As puts it, "with unmistakable Russian panache" they're making the best of it. The Russian/English website, ( is another, in Russian) provides an amazing window into this complex, culturally rich, and intensely proud society, that any reader of Pushkin, Tostoy, Dostoyevsky or Checkhov might well recognize.

So never mind the "face control" and steep prices of the ritzy clubs. In cheaper gay discos, overflowing with gay and straight, mostly young unisex crowds; in the coffeehouse scene of artists, poets and musicians; in cruising areas called 'pleshkas' or in the hot steam of saunas you'll find surprising energy in what calls this "city of genuine and sincere souls."

Gay Bars/Clubs
Clubs in Moscow come and go frequently, often leaving websites up. It's difficult for outsiders to know what's open. Even locals like can't keep up. Clubs below have recent confirmations, or current events listings, to be found in our maps & listings page, with website links. Non-Russian speakers will need a website translator --Google does okay. Keep in mind that the wearing of sports footwear might prompt doormen to deny entrance to the more fashionable clubs or restaurants. "Face control" at the door might exclude others for some special or exclusive club events.

7Freedays (Milyutinskiy pereulok 6/1: Metro Lubyanka), cozy gay-lesbian cafe/bar, open 6pm until the last customer leaves, karaoke, movies, games, Q-tango, women's events, Moscow Bears' socials Sundays from 7pm, free WiFi. The former Baza.

12 Volt Club (ulitsa Tverskaya 12, building 4; Metro Tverskaya) lesbian-owned, straight-friendly cafe/bar, DJ music, food, pleasant vibe.

Central Station MSK (Yuzhniy prospect; Metro Komsomolskaya), old Three Monkeys at new venue, hot go-go dancers, foam parties, karaoke, drag cabaret shows, restaurant, guys under 23 get in free.

Chuba Bar (Stoleshnikov pereulok 7: Metro Pushkinskaya), friendly gay dance club, weekend afterhours 6am-6pm, top DJs.

Club 69 (ulitsa Rozanova 4; Metro Begovaya) six rooms, video lounge, dance floor; mixed crowd, theme parties, women's nights, drag, amateur strip-tease; European and Japenese food, WiFi. Nightly until 6am, weekend after-parties from 6am.

Digits (Glinischevskiy Pereulok 3; Metro Tverskaya), weekday downtown bar/cafe, weekend pop music dance club, 5pm-6am, mixed young crowd, sexy shows in later hours, foam parties, theme nights. Aka the 9.1.1. Club.

Nashe Cafe (Tverskaya 25/9; Metro: Tverskaya), energetic dance crowd dances until dawn, drag shows, chill-out lounge for quieter moments. Women's bar Dyke Cafe also at this location with lounge, dancing and go-go girls.

Pink Panther (Novaya Basmannaya ulitsa, 12/2; Metro Krasnye Vorota), aka Beat Club, upscale women-only nightclub of many years-running, new name and location.

Propaganda (Bolshoi Zlatoustinskiy 7; Metro Kitay Gorod), mixed intimate lounge, small sunken dance floor, adjoining chill-out spaces; cosmopolitan, fashion-conscious mix of Russians, expats and tourists; 9pm to midnight warmup, then house/techo until 6am. Gayest for Sunday T-dances.

Secret (Nizhniy Susalnyj pereulok 7, Bldg 8; Metro Kurskaya), dance and show club, two dance floors, young mixed crowd, sexy go-go boys, drag shows, talent contests, food, nightly 11pm to 6am.

Sharm (ulitsa Dubininskaya 69; Metro Paveletskaya), two-level dance club, big dance floor, young male stripper shower show, dark room, dress & "face control" entry policy.

Gay Saunas
Russian banya are basic, traditional features of life, for the relief of all that ails a body, and the spirit too. Birch branch beatings, hot sweats and cold plunges, massage, and of course vodka have long figured in getting away from a frigid world; sometimes all-male, but often mixed. Villages had communal saunas, families often have their own, and city authorities of all regimes built them in every neighborhood. To explore a bit, off the beaten track, see a list of over 40 such Moscow establishments at the English-language website NewDosug.

Traditional establishments are often discreetly sexual at the least, but for bathhouses similar to those in Europe and America, with a more blatant scene, the new gay saunas are your best bet.

Mayakovka Spa (Oruzheynyl pereulok 13, bldg.2; Metro Mayakovkaya), the first western-style gay sauna, under 24-year-olds free entry, bar, porn screenings, jacuzzi and steam room; party events, drag cabaret shows.

Nashe Spa (ulitsa Pokrovka, 45/2; Metro Krasnye Vorota), cruise maze, stripper stage shows, dance floor, bar, naked young waiters, dry sauna and steam, pool, massage: "any complexity/ for every taste."

Thermas Sauna (ulitsa Sadovaya Spasskaya 18/1; Metro Kasnye Vorota), central location, pool, steam, solarium, restaurant/bar, private rooms, some commercial sex action; dark nights, party events, drag shows.

Voda (Bolshoi Savinskii pereoulok 12, bldg 3; Metro Frunzenskaya), large, clean, popular facility; pool, workout area, steam and dry sauna; good-looking young crowd, sex in labyrinth and steams rooms. Moscow Bears nights Wednesdays 5-11pm.

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