The Ultimate Guide to Moscow Nightclub Types

The Ultimate Guide to Moscow Nightclub Types

“I told you we shouldn’t come here! It’s the same like two weeks ago, it totally sucks!”

“Yeah, I guess ever since they changed the guy who does the door it hasn’t been the same…maybe we really should find another place.”

Does that sound familiar to you?

More...

You hit up one of your “go-to spots” but it’s just not the same. You remember all the great nights you had there. Stories for days. Now it’s just every time the same and you are sick and tired of it.

This happened to me in Moscow as well. So I started asking around. I started to look for information. The options for nightlife in Moscow are endless but no one could really help me. So instead of wasting my time browsing useless sites or asking clueless people for info, I did it myself.

You too need to stop spending unnecessary money on clubs that you don’t know, visited by people you don’t like. Luckily, in Moscow this will not happen to you. No matter what type of nightclub you prefer, you’ll always know where to go. Because you have:

The Ultimate Guide to Moscow Nightclub Types

In this guide you will find out:

  • The 4 types of nightclubs in Moscow nightlife
  • The dress code at these places
  • What kind of music they play
  • The vibe and atmosphere you can expect
  • Who should and should not go
  • The most popular club picks for these 4 types
  • And much more…

By the end of this guide, you will know exactly which type of nightclub sounds like a good fit for your taste and which ones you will probably want to avoid.


Moscow night club type #1 - The high-end clubs

The posh Moscow night clubs are the clubs that most people associate with Moscow. They are the kind of venues that TV channels make documentaries about because rich folks spend so much cash there.

The crowd in Moscow high-end clubs

Their main clientele consists of:

  • Elite and those with money. Think: men aged 35 and older but also groups of men who might have some not so legal business going on. Those are the people that drive the expensive cars that are parked outside.
  • Those who want a piece of them. Think: young, beautiful women, who are looking to get a beneficial deal out of these guests.
  • Famous and beautiful people. You will not recognize the famous ones and the beautiful ones will again, mostly but not all, be the kind of young women I just described.
  • Expats or tourists that come with a big bankroll and have money to burn. You will be able to recognize them by their distinct lack of Russian and the girls around them, who are milking them for drinks.

Overall, you'll find that most men in these clubs are at least 30 and most women are not older than 25. Money is not an issue here and a lot of the guests can spend as much money as they please.

The dress code in Moscow high-end clubs

  • mars
    For men: elegant – shirts and blazers, or even better suits. You can wear a pocket square for some extra flair but you won’t be the only person wearing one. More often than not, men are dressed well.
  • venus
    For women: sexy – skirts or dresses with heels are a no-brainer and not up for discussion. Only try skintight jeans if you are sure that you're getting in. Women look good and come dressed to the nines.

The music in Moscow high-end clubs

Pop music and lots of Russian pop as well. Unfortunately the guests at these kinds of spots do not exactly have the most refined taste, which means the clubs get away with pretty poor DJs simply because no one cares. Expect to hear songs that you haven't heard in other venues in years. Some Moscow nightclubs in these category do play domestic or international house, check the club reviews for more info on which those are. You can also expect occasional live performances by domestic pop singers in a few of these.

What party you can expect in Moscow high-end clubs

The people frequenting these places are often your typical “see and be seen” crowd. Which means the atmosphere will be a bit stiff in the beginning but it becomes looser as the night wears on. Everyone starts losing their attitude and inhibitions and party harder the later it gets. Still, you should not expect the kind of atmosphere that you have at summer destinations or places like Vegas. Partying is not necessarily the main priority at posh Moscow nightclubs.

Still, the guests spend freely and these types of venues are not cheap at all. Everyone who goes there can afford the 12$+ cocktails. At the same time, most Russians there do get quite drunk indeed. This does not stop them though from going to an after-hours club or a private party later. What you'll see there is often only the beginning to a night.

Table culture is quite pronounced at posh clubs, since all of them have a kitchen as well. Guests come often in groups to make it rain and start their night with food and drinks. Hence, nightclubs of this type are mostly packed with a lot of tables and are not your stereotypical mega clubs where people go to dance.

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These clubs are for you if...

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    You don't mind dropping some serious cash to have fun.
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    You dig people who care very much about their appearance.
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    You have no problem holding your ground and dealing with attitudes.
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Don't come here if...

  • You are self-conscious and have a problem with your looks.
  • You don't like to dress up and don't like people who care about that.
  • You are broke.

Moscow night club type #2 - The party clubs

The party clubs are the ones tourists know about. They are mentioned on Tripadvisor and whatever other internet resource you can find with information about Moscow nightlife.

The crowd in Moscow party clubs

The crowd at party clubs is on average younger than in the high-end clubs. Make no mistake though, they are still well-frequented and plenty of these youngsters have money to burn even if it is not their own but daddy’s.

These mainstream venues are better known to people who are visiting the city. The foreigners in here will be tourists or students that want a taste of Moscow nightlife. You cannot really compare them to the businessmen and well-situated expats that go to the high-end Moscow nightclubs.

On the whole the crowd in party clubs will feel more "accessible" and down to earth. However, if you are over 30 you might feel a bit old in some of them.

The music in Moscow party clubs

Commercial, top 40 chart hits, mashups and sometimes Russian music but less than at more upscale venues. Very little house and electro. If you're into mainstream music you should definitely hit up these spots. But keep in mind that the DJs might not be the best. Poor taste is not restricted to upscale Moscow clubs only.

The dress code in Moscow party clubs

  • mars
    For men: smart casual – you don’t have to suit up (in some places you can, in others you’ll feel out of place) but should wear a blazer or a shirt.
  • venus
    For women: sexy – not quite as pronounced as in posh places but goes the same direction. Heels are a must.

What party you can expect in Moscow party clubs

A younger crowd means somewhat less attitudes and a better and more energetic atmosphere right from the start. These nightclubs are high-energy places and you should be aware of that if you're going. That means less tables and more people actually dancing and partying. Most of the Moscow nightclubs that fit this description involve plenty of drinking and hooking up. Hence, tourists like to go there a lot. Prices don't vary that much compared to top Moscow clubs and the better party clubs will be only slightly cheaper than some upscale spots.

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These clubs are for you if...

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    You define a fun night out as having a few drinks and being open to meeting someone
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    Dancing is important to you but you are not a fan of electronic music.
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    You want to show Moscow nightlife to someone who hasn't experienced it yet.
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Don't come here if...

  • You plan to stay sober.
  • You don't want to listen to the same old songs that are in the Top 40.
  • You don't see socializing and meeting strangers as an essential part of a great night out.

Moscow night club type #3 - The underground & hip places

Underground and hip(ster) clubs in Moscow are getting more and more fashionable with Moscow becoming more urban and westernized. These spots are similar to what you have in St.Petersburg and a lot of hip European cities like Berlin and London.

The crowd in Moscow underground clubs

You'll find a very mixed crowd in underground-ish spots, both regarding age and social class. Most of them are going to be in their 20s or early 30s and "alternative" and/or very fond of electronic music. These venues are very much the polar opposite of upscale nightclubs. Consequently, people who are going there do not want anything to do with the "elitist money crowd" that is so widespread in Moscow. However, some of them are indeed targeting a sort of "yuppie crowd" that is part of the upper middle class itself.

The dress code in Moscow underground clubs

  • venus-mars
    For men & women: smart casual – like any underground place – pretty much anything goes as long as you don’t look too elegant.

The music in Moscow underground clubs

In most of them electro of all sorts, international and domestic. If you're a fan of electronic music, you should definitely hit up a few of these clubs.

What party you can expect in Moscow underground clubs

There are four common features that you’ll find in all underground clubs:

  • A chill atmosphere. Unlike in upscale nightclubs, there are no attitudes there and no one is trying to show off. It can still feel a bit closed off and difficult to become a part of in the beginning because it is its own scene. Typically, however, the atmosphere is going to be friendlier and more approachable than in elitist clubs.
  • Low prices. These venues are generally much more affordable than top and mainstream Moscow nightclubs.
  • Very few tables. Just as in Western Europe and the US, people come to dance, enjoy the music, relax and get fucked up. The energy is typical of electro/underground clubs and rather relaxed and friendly, instead of wild and crazy.
  • Drugs are a part of the scene. You won’t see it in the open because of restrictive laws but as always, drugs are a part of this scene. In contrast to more liberal countries that also means no weed being openly consumed.
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These clubs are for you if...

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    You like electronic music.
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    You dislike or want to avoid anything posh or fancy.
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    You don't consider yourself "mainstream".
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Don't come here if...

  • You are not into hipster or underground culture.
  • You consider meeting someone from the opposite sex essential for a great night out.
  • You feel repulsed by the fact that people are taking drugs.
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    The most popular underground spots: Dissident, Squat 3/4, Rodnya, Gazgolder, Propaganda (both not really underground)

Moscow night club type #4 - The rough & real

The last type are the kind that will show you a glimpse of the "real" Russia. They are even more common in smaller cities outside of Moscow and can make you feel like you've traveled back in time.

The crowd in Moscow's rough&real clubs

No model-looking women, no older businessmen, hipsters, yuppies or any of the sort of crowd you'll find in the other environments. These clubs or bars are frequented by "real” Russians. That usually means students and other young people that don’t have a lot of money and are not part of the upper class in Moscow. Often they won't even be from Moscow but from the suburbs and a long metro or train ride away from the center.

The music in Moscow's rough&real clubs

Very mixed, some spots play Russian music, others commercial or rock or even all three together.

The dress code in Moscow's rough&real clubs

  • venus-mars
    For men and women: is pretty much non-existent although women will on average still be dressed sexier than in Western Europe and the US, simply because that is the norm in Russia.

What party you can expect in Moscow's rough&real clubs

If you are looking for places with high energy and cheap booze then these bars (most of them are bars rather than clubs) are right for you. You won't have to worry about dealing with face control or attitudes here. You will not have to deal with face control or attitudes here.

The atmosphere is very loose and people drink a lot, so you'll automatically make new friends and acquaintances. Prices are low, which is good for your wallet but might be bad for your liver.

The downside of these spots is that they attract plenty of lower-class people. That is not a bad thing in itself but especially a foreigner that doesn't speak Russian can attract some unwanted attention. Some of the places have a notorious reputation and you should be generally careful at them.

Fun fact: some of them will ask for your ID and refuse entrance even if you are clearly of legal age, in complete contrast to higher-end venues that never ask for ID.

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These clubs are for you if...

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    You want to know how "ordinary Russians" party.
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    You don't want to spend a lot and prefer beer over cocktails.
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    You are desperate for a weekday option.
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Don't come here if...

  • You don't know or don't want to speak Russian.
  • You have issues with a rougher atmosphere.
  • You want to impress someone.
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    The most popular rough & real venues: Kamchatka, Crazy Daisy, 1929 Bar Coyote Ugly

If you like good nightclubs then you will not get enough of The Real Moscow Nightlife Experience. Unless you are very boring of course...

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