Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Planning Stage: Ukraine (Part 2: Kiev Nightlife)
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Well, my sister, who is sensible, is not on board with my doing this, so I regret I mentioned it to her. It's a shame some people cannot be told things; they force us to become liars.
Packing of belongings is moving along. I am patching holes in my apartment walls and boxing up my library. I hope to be more than halfway moved out this week and completely moved out by end of next (save my mattress, computer, DJ equipment, and some other essentials).
Ukraine's brutal presidential campaign will culminate on 17 January, provided swine flu paranoia doesn't delay the vote. I want to be there for that.
Hotels in Kiev are expensive. Renting an apartment will not get you a good value either (prices online suggest a nightly rate that is about the same as what you'd pay for the Holiday Inn Express here in the states, which is to say around $60 a night). As Bradt's travel guide notes, Kiev has yet to discover the budget hotel. One can take a gamble and rent an apartment for possibly much cheaper from any number of entrepreneurs, but Bradt's discourages this (too many ways to get scammed).
The only other options are hostels or a personal connection with a couch to sleep on. I would prefer the latter, as the hostels look like the usual 4 to 8 bunks per room, and it takes just one snorer to spoil everything. (If it should come to that, I will certainly be bringing my noise cancellation headphones and earplugs with me.)
Regarding Ukraine night life, it seems a large number of dance clubs also double as strip clubs and casinos. Some of these are described as "entertainment centers," and their website splash pages begin at that broader level, with a menu to narrow the scope for the different specific offerings.
Heaven looks like a potentially fun place (I love their advertising), though again I fear it may be too trendy for me. Clips on YouTube show the usual gyrating, scantily-clad professional club dancers on the bar counter. But in studying so many clubs in Eastern Europe lately I'm beginning to recognize that such may simply be the norm for club culture in that region, so sexy girl dancers perhaps does not equal pretentious in that part of the world. Indie bands play live at Heaven also, which is a positive sign.
Arena Night Club looks primarily to be a big-name place, for the likes of Antoine Clamaran, David Guetta, and Inna.
Disco Radio Hall, formerly Modabar, looks like an especially promising venue. The pop is clearly right up front (they put Katy Perry on one flier). I will definitely aim for this one.
Cocktail Bar 111 is situated in a posh hotel. Reviews are mixed, but it sounds as if it could be appealingly trashy.
Pa Ti Pa had Hungarian ex-porn star turned DJ Niki Belucci perform; she removed her clothing while DJ'ing as well. As it turns out, there are other Kiev venues where topless girls DJ. Which makes for some formidable competition.
Tiësto has played Decadence. Fave Ukrainian house group Gorchitza has also. Described as "ultra exclusive," one site says the door policy can be "harsh." It does look lavish, and therefore is probably not my kind of place.
Azhur is described as an "unpretentious" disco. Decor and music are based on the 60s-80s. That would be a fun and interesting DJ challenge. Crowd looks older, unsurprising considering the retro atmosphere. The venue looks quite beautiful and the door policy is relaxed.
Friend Darko from Croatia on the subject of whether or not I can play turbofolk in the Balkans: "Turbofolk? Do not go there!"
Renting an apartment in Tallinn, Estonia for a month is far more reasonable and affordable than renting an apartment in Kiev.
If a cop asks for your passport on the streets of Kiev, you give it to him to look at. If a cop asks for your passport on the streets of Bucharest, you don't. That's because in Romania real cops don't ask to see your passport; only cop impersonators do this.