Finding Nemo

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Moscow by Night Part II: Pacha!

From Russia with Club
The sulky beautiful woman with black hair, tiny ripped leather skirt, fishnets and knee-high boots tapped her clipboard, looking me up and down. I was wearing a fresh button-down shirt and new black shoes I had purchased for just this occasion. I had even combed my beard. She squinted at it, with a look that said perhaps it was giving her gastric distress.

"Where you from?'

"Um, I live in Los Angeles, you know near Hollywood."

Her face suddenly lit up. "Hollywood? Wow I vant go. I vant to be famous movie star... people say I beautiful..." Her eyes became dreamy. Then she hardened again and looked at my friend. He had no new button-down shirt or shoes. In fact, he looked like a typical frumpy backpacker, fresh out of the hammock. Ruh roh.

"He's with me?" I offered weakly.

 A pause. The long line of beautiful people behind us shuffled and frowned. Then, "OK, Mr Hollywood, you go. Enjoy. Pacha is very best, you will see."

Two very large black men in black suits appeared out of nowhere and escorted us to the front door, where we were given the chance to buy entrance tickets for 900 rubles. Each. At the time that amounted to about $30 (the ruble has recently tumbled to a whopping 46 rubles to the dollar). This must have been a small fortune to the average Moscovite. But in Russia, of course, the world is divided into the haves and have-nots. Club Pacha was squarely in the former. We paid, and walking down the stairs, started grinning and high-fiving. Woohoo! We got in! This was going to be EPIC!

American Airlines really should consider a new wardrobe
We rounded the bottom of the stairs and entered what can only be described as a room of pure cool awesome. White swanky leather couch-booth things wrapped around the entire room. Every 20 feet or so stood a supermodel wearing, well ... a stewardess outfit, if it was somehow made of skimpy lingerie and corseted breasts. The dancers slowly writhed to thumping music. A few well-dressed men with large shiny watches and gold necklaces slouched at the bar. Far outnumbering them were gorgeous woman in long sparkly dresses, miniskirts, boots, high-heels, and lots of animal print. You know, the usual Ruskaya street-wear.

I was a little taken aback by this. Perhaps I've just never been to the right club in the United States, but even at the best clubs it was very rare to see a ratio better than 50:50. Especially at the bar. If there were women, they were usually off dancing. What was it about Moscow and Russia that made this high-end club so different? An obvious answer was that because this was such a patriarchal society, the only opportunity for women was to find a rich husband. Or, maybe they were expensive "escorts."

But I was a stupid foreigner, and it was not always wise to make such sweeping assumptions. So, instead I set out to meet some locals and have fun.

It became obvious pretty quickly that the cool dudes at the bar wanted nothing to do with an American bumpkin. Even the ladies seemed a bit stand-offish. What? Didn't they know I was called Mr Hollywood?!

So, rejected, I walked over to the bar and plopped down an arm. Someone bumped it. I turned to find myself face-to-face with one of the gorgeous dancers. This called for something quick and witty.

"Um, ... Hi! Privyet!" I squeaked.


"Oh cool, so you speak English?"

She shook her head. Crap. "Drink?" I asked giving the universal symbol for shots. She nodded. I got some lemon-drops for something like 1000 rubles and my first-born. We put them down, and then I grabbed my camera and said "Picture OK?" She gave a half-smile, and nodded "OK."

Apparently I make a really good creepy guy!
I snapped a pic, and she immediately waved goodbye and vanished. Hitting on the dancers. Well played Nemo.

I made my way deeper and found myself entering a cavern that housed a massive dance floor. VIP booths ringed the balconies, massive disco balls glittered everywhere, vinyl records hung in the air aglow with colored lights. On a stage above it all were 3 dancing girls in stewardess outfits doing a routine that involved repeatedly sticking out their chests and butts in unison. Then something resembling a merman in a tutu began shooting weather balloons out of his arms. It was weird and wonderful.

Velcome to Russian Airlines. Please take wodka and enjoy ride
Never mind the tutu man-fish. What in the hell is the guy in the high-heeled white boots wearing on his head?
Imagine all the girls, and the boys, and the strings, and the drums, the drums, the drums ...
I had to agree. Pacha was indeed "very best."

Feeling sufficiently lubricated, I descended the stairs and entered the madness.

If someone gives you giant heart-shaped glasses, it's best to pay it forward
All I can is that at some point I came into the possession of some clown-sized white heart-shaped glasses, which made me more friends than George Takei has on Facebook. After a particularly great song ended, the crowd left the floor and surrounded the bar for a breather. I decided on a whim to buy shots for about 10 of my new best friends ever in the entire world. They all cheered for me as the GDP of Somalia went down the hatch. My credit card was on fire, but there was too much fog from the smoke machine to notice. And then.... it happened.

Safety Dance came on. Yes, that song from the 80's. "You can dance if you want to, you can be a friend of mine."

To this day I'm not quite sure exactly how it happened, but I suddenly realized I was in the center of a dance circle, one hand behind my head, the other yanking my foot up to my butt in spastic jerks. Everyone was cheering. It didn't occur to me they could be cheering what they thought was a special Olympian. Inspiration hit. I couldn't help myself. And I began to jerk on the floor, doing something like the worm. If the worm had accidentally placed its mouth into an electric socket.

The next day I woke. I tried to sit up, but the sheets stuck to my body. I realized my shirt and clothes were covered in ... "club-juice." My neck hurt. I took off my new pants to take a shower, and then noticed the backside had completely split open.

At perhaps the swankiest club in all of Russia, I had apparently been doing the worm with my ass hanging out.

Yes that's right! Premium vodka in Russia is called "NEMIROFF!' I win!

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