Bolshoi in Russia: Find me in da club (if I can get past the bouncers)

Greetings from Moscow! Bolshoi in Russia is my variation on Big in Japan. (Bolshoi means “Big” in Russian. Get it?) Stay tuned for my live dispatches from Russia this week.

I don’t think you can ever be ready for clubbing in Moscow. I certainly wasn’t. Granted, I am not really the clubbing type. I arrived in Russia last night and was told that we have VIP tickets to Opera, one of Moscow’s hottest clubs. What can you say to that? I overdosed on caffeine and I went. For research purposes only, of course.

Upon arrival, I have five immediate observations:

  • The DJ is great.
  • The women (especially the dancers) are hot beyond belief (and this is coming from a woman)
  • The guys are not hot (once again, this is coming from a woman but one not necessarily into the whole Armani Exchange and Diesel uniform look)
  • It is virtually impossible to tell “regular girls” apart from those with a pricetag on them
  • I don’t think there are any regular girls here

I realize I am completely improperly dressed because neither my cleavage nor my legs nor my belly is exposed. Then again, I am not here to find a husband like the majority of the local beauties. My friend is telling me that being a male expat in Moscow is great because Russian women are “all over you.” It is also bad because they are only all over you because you have money and a foreign passport, both of which they’d like to obtain.

He tells me this is how all club conversation between a Russian woman and a foreign man go:

  1. Where are you from? (Hopefully from anywhere in the West)
  2. What kind of job do you have? (Anything with the keywords: manager, president, etc. sounds good)
  3. Do you have a driver? (Anyone who is anyone in Moscow has a driver. If you don’t, you are out.)

If your answers are positive, congratulations! You might have a wife on your hands. A trophy wife, too! At that point, you can only hope that nobody else comes along who a) comes from a more desirable country, b) has a better job, c) has a better car (and a better driver). Relationships in modern Russia are Darwinism at its purist free-market form.

I have seen my share of meat markets in my lifetime, but none that take the trade to perfection quite like a Moscow club.

There is way too much visual stimulation in this club: several dancers, few of them practically nude, theatrical performances, disco balls, all that. I need a drink. $12 for a can of Red Bull plus $10 for a shot of vodka. Not a cheap way to get “into the right mood.” However, comparing to getting a table for the night–from anywhere between $2,000-$12,000, gulp–it seems like a bargain. The VIP tickets were great to get in here, but they don’t give you much more than that.

I shouldn’t complain. Getting into a Moscow club is not the easiest thing to do. There are lines of people dressed to the nines every night hoping to be admitted in. The bouncers are trained to perform “face control” (or feis kontrol as they say here) and examine your shoes, face and clothes to see if you are good enough to get in. Opera has a face control rating of 4 (out of 5), aka Tough. Wearing jeans and shoes costing less than $100 is not helping you here, so don’t even try it. Sneakers? Forget it. Unless, of course, you had a Bentley drive you to the club and you are willing to buy a table. That’s a different story.

You might also be saved if you simply speak English to the bouncers because they will assume you’ll be able to afford the drinks (and that you are not just one of “those people” who come here just to stare at the superhot dancers.) Let them assume away!