“This city is a sick place,” shrugs Elena, the biggest party girl I know and the perfect companion as I set about uncovering whether Moscow lives up to its claims as the new New York.”
“On arrival we were ushered through the VIP zone, into the VVIP zone, up a fire escape and through a kitchen into the VVVIP zone. You’re nobody in this town unless you’re forced to walk through a kitchen to get your shot of Stoly. There, a gaggle of women with machete-like cheekbones were dancing on the bar-top, below them a troika of men, looking skywards in awe as they guzzled champagne.
Muscovites have waited so long for their time to come that they act as though it will all be taken from them come morning. “See those trapdoors?” grinned one clubber. “People climb on to the roof to have sex – even in December, when it’s minus 10.”
Dimitri, my taciturn photographer, shook his head. “Is any of it really making these people happy?” Looking at the knicker-gazing businessmen by the bar, I’m fairly certain the answer is yes.
“You guys seem to think our women are all prostitutes,” said Artemy Troitsky, an outspoken music critic and writer, often described as the Russian John Peel. “And you’re sort of right. They will establish early on what you can offer them and tell you what their previous boyfriends gave them. Russian men have grown quite wary, but foreigners are easy prey.”
The women are clearly high?maintenance: in clubs and bars, miniature chairs ensure that designer handbags – often worth as much as £2,000 – never touch the floor.
Culturally the capital is a frenzy of amorphous creativity, with one art form bleeding into another: bars are selling books, nightclubs sell clothes. All-night contemporary art museums (with their own DJs) are springing up across the city. Norman Foster has been commissioned to build 20 new buildings, and Philippe Starck is designing a whole village just outside Moscow.
“People forget that what Communism left behind was a skilled workforce,” explains Tony Brenton, the British ambassador to Moscow. “Add money to that and it’s an extremely productive combination.”
And one that is attracting Brits with dollar signs in their eyes, such as Tony Blair, who is rumoured to have secured a £125,000 speaking engagement in the capital this summer, and Damien Hirst, who is to take his diamond-studded skull to Russia in June.
One detail says it all: Moscow is the only place in the world where movie billboards have the film’s budget in the same-sized type as the title, as though the fact the new George Clooney epic cost £65 million makes it worth seeing.”
Yaaaah!! I love partying in ‘cold war’ Europe. The release…………