June 16

8 striking differences between nightlife in New York and Moscow

Moscow Nightlife & Moscow Clubs


Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to New York, one of the world's greatest cities with a buzzing nightlife. It is much different from Moscow and you have truly missed out if you have not been there yet. But I did not only have a blast partying my ass off and, I also made a couple of fascinating observations that I will share with you in this article.


1. New York crowds are much more diverse

The first and most obvious thing you will notice, in nightlife and during the day, is how diverse people in New York are. You see White people, Black people, Asians, Latinos, Europeans, Americans, you name it. Pretty much any race and nationality can be found there. That makes nightlife much more of an adventure. You never know who you are going to meet, where they will be from and what they are doing in NYC. Every person has his or her own unique background story which makes the city, and its nightlife, so vibrant.

Compare that to Moscow, where you'll meet 90% Russians and the rest will be tourists, with a few expats sprinkled in between. In that respect, New York feels like a truly global city and Moscow like a very, very big village.

2. New York nightlife options are seemingly endless

Don't get me wrong, Moscow's nightlife is great and you have a lot of different venues and styles to choose from. However, if you're like me and you like the finer things in life and higher-end venues, you will be able to make a tour of all of them in 1-2 nights. In New York, I felt like I only began to scratch the surface after three nights of going out. The options seem endless: rooftop clubs, big commercial clubs, smaller private clubs, bars and speakeasies...I could go on and on with this list. In terms of nightlife options, staying one weekend in New York is like comparing a shot to a bottle: you tried it and you love it, but there is still so much more left on the table.

Rooftop bars: you'll find plenty of those in NYC

3. New York parties 7 days a week

One of the most striking differences, and New York’s biggest advantages, are the options of going out every single day of the week. Moscow is really buzzing on Fridays and Saturdays. Thursday is a half-day and Wednesday maybe a quarter-day (if you know where to go to). New York is lit every single day of the week. Case in point:

We went with the boys to a Brazilian themed party on a Sunday evening, with Monday being Memorial Day, i.e. a holiday. It was pretty popping at 9pm already but after 11pm the spot was absolutely packed with people. Compare that to a night out that I had in Moscow on the 30th of April, equally a Sunday, equally before a holiday. Well actually there is no point in comparing them because one was a party and the other was not.

Bottom line is that NYC nightlife has something to offer every single day of the week, thanks to the big turnover of people and the big influx of tourists and different cultures.

4. Last call in New York will end your night out

After being a bit harsh on Moscow, it's time to give some credit where credit is due. Europeans might not even be familiar with the concept of last call (except British): at last call you get chased out of whichever bar, pub or nightclub you are enjoying yourself in because after you turn 18, government becomes your second mommy that tells you what you can and cannot do. Luckily, Moscow doesn't give a damn about such infantile concepts and you can party 24/7 if you know your spots. Start at 11pm and end at 11am: nothing to see here, moving on.

Things are a bit different in the Big Apple. For Americans it is in fact a pretty big step up from even more draconian states like California, which want to tuck you in at 2am. But at 4am the party's over. That is not to say that your night is necessarily over, as you can still continue chatting on the street or getting a beer from the deli on the corner as long as you like. But lo and behold, no official nightclub works after last call. For Europeans this is a bit strange to get used to and I quite a lot prefer the late starts and finishes in Moscow.

5. New York nightlife costs are through the roof

No one should be surprised about this, since the city is infamous for being one of the world's most expensive cities. It offers great nightlife but that comes at a steep price and you better have your finances in order if you want to enjoy yourself. To give you an idea of what's coming your way:

  • Drinks are 15$ and more. Don't forget you have to tip in the US. And you better tip if you want to keep being served.
  • Cover fees start at 20$ and go up open-end. If you don't want to wait in line, you will have to throw in a little bit extra here as well.
  • Expect a bottle at a solid rooftop club to cost around 500$.
  • Throw in the higher costs for Uber as well. About 10-20$ for a ride.

6. Music in NYC nightclubs is more "Western"

What do I mean by Western? In Russia, you will hear a decent amount of Russian pop music, even at commercial clubs (well, especially there). The DJs in Moscow also don't seem to have caught up all the time with at least the latest commercial hits, so you'll hear plenty of tracks that were popular 5-10 years ago. The music in New York's clubs is more up-to-date and the DJs a bit more refined and competent at what they're doing. You will hear much more EDM and Black Music, both of which are pretty much non-existent in Moscow. Overall, this is a matter of taste but NYC beats Moscow for me easily in this category.

7. New Yorkers are very chatty and love to socialize

Again, hardly anyone who has ever talked to Americans will be surprised by this. New York City is for me hands down, of all the cities I've visited so far, the easiest city to socialize with other people. Just open your mouth and blurt out anything and you have a very good chance that your conversation partner will start chatting your ear off. Americans are ridicoulously easy to approach and are friendlier and more open than Russians, while at the same time not being in tightly knit social circles like Latin cultures.

Another observation I made was that people actually do come out to party when they are out. A common phenomenon in Moscow is the Look-at-me guest (can be male or female) who comes out to be seen but not to actually enjoy himself. You have these in NYC as well though overall attitudes and smartphone addiction in nightclubs are not higher than in Moscow.

8. NYC does business 24/7

What impressed me the most about nightlife, but also beyond, was the willingness of people to do business with you. Everyone is always ready to do a deal and people are constantly hustling. Any problem that you might imagine can be solved through negotiation. Wanna buy 3 bottles but pay only 2? Negotiate with the bottle girl. Don't wanna wait in line? Negotiate with the door manager. Need someone to pick you up at a certain spot at a certain time? Negotiate with your Uber driver. Anything has a price tag, if only you are willing to negotiate and find some common ground, the mutually beneficial deal for everyone.

Moscow in this respect is much rawer. People are not only hustling but hustling you and everyone is looking to get the best possible deal for himself. Cab drivers will try to rip you off if you don't stand your ground. Barmen will poor you the wrong or not enough alcohol if you don't lock them down for good service. The difference is that in New York you negotiate to get better service, in Moscow you negotiate to get any service at all.

Have you been to New York or the US? Let me know what your impressions were! I'm curious to hear your opinion!

I came to Russia in 2014 to study. I thought I would leave after one year to pursue a boring office job. But this country offers the adventures and opportunities that you don’t find anymore in the West. I decided to stay in the Wild East.

If you’re sociable, communicative and speak their language, Russians love you. I was decent at the former two and I learned the latter. These days my Russian is fluent and I keep improving my communication skills every day.

I strongly believe that confidence and persistence are the keys to success when dealing with Russia and its people. My mission is to help you to establish a connection with this amazing country, be it through dating, life or language.

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