This month it’s time to give you more insight into what it’s like to go out rockin’n’rollin’ in Moscow. This article will focus on reviews of r’n’r gigs in Moscow. It will give you an idea of the excitement and buzz of going to music and dance concerts in our great city over here. I asked Alexey Kilikovsky, a regular and veteran on the dance and rockin’ scene over here, as well as being a mate of mine, to write some gig reviews of some of the recent rock’n’roll concerts he’s attended. You will see from his writing below he is a dab hand with his use of metaphors ! So take it away, Alex.
Brownbar, 12/12/18: The rock’n’roll band performing on the night were from Vladimir, a town 300 km from Moscow. They had the intriguing name of “My Baby is Blue” and comprised eight members, including a brass section and a synthesiser player. Unfortunately on the dancefloor there were only myself and my dancing partner Mila, a pair of our friends, plus a couple of women who were more interested in each other than of other partners. Nearby the dance floor there was a fat guard grimly staring at two drunken men in front of the stage who were wriggling like two air-pumped dolls. As for the performance of the band, the second law of Dialectics did not apply to them yet, the quantity hadn’t turned into quality. Alas, the proverb “there is no smoke without fire” was not appropriate for this group. For, to quote another metaphor, “A lot of smog from the fog machine and no fire to engine up the listening audience.” Later they introduced their own song composition – this turned out to be the last straw, that really flattened the spine of the evening. Then there followed a popsa disco. The dance floor was covered with youngsters agitated by their hormones. I don’t like popsa because each time I hear crazy beats, plus words like “You’re my light, You’re my warmmmth, You’re minnnne, I love You,” or “Do it do it la-la-la, do it do it la-la-la, do it do it do it do it la-la-l,” I see a sardonic smile; but not of a Cheshire Cat. No, but rather of Heinrich Himmler who dreamed “of destroying the ability of thinking of the Slavic Untermenschen – there must be loud marsh music all the time from the loudspeakers in the KonzLagers.”
Schwartz Keiser Pub, 12/12/18: So we left for the beer pub named Schwartz Keiser for a Raw Cats gig – the Raw Cats are a brilliant band. It was a deep, cold, windy, sparkling stars night when we found the place, where the guests were talking slowly and sipping beer. As I noticed, they replaced the absence of arguments with repeating their thoughts in different variants; “I prefer dark beer – just so – my favourite is the dark one – I always order dark beer” and so on. Then it was time for rock’n’roll and the Raw Cats. It was also Star Time for Mila, my dancing partner; there were no other pairs of dancers on the dancefloor, so for an hour she was the Queen and I was the Prince. The leader of the Raw Cats – Valery Setkin – kissed Mila after her dancing. The Raw Cats even returned to the stage after their last song, to accompany our dancing because the folks wanted us to perform some more.
Esse Jazz Café, 15/12/18: On this weekend there was a great event for rock’n’rollers in Moscow – Richard Hume invited his friends to the Esse Cafe for the celebration of his 68th birthday. I know he is a good man and these men usually share their warmth with friends, partners and pupils, so I presented him a cake and some cosmetics. The guests were elegant and beautiful, many with gifts. They were given from their hearts, as a sign of gratitude for the efforts that Richard launches to make our lives more cheerful and happy. Especially now, when the real puppeteers of our world make the ordinary people to be degraded to the level of Morlocks. The commercialisation of art, science, medicine and the social sphere guided people to hate each other, even their own relatives, and strangers. It seems as if someone had sprayed over the world the diabolical potion from Stevenson’s “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”. But let’s return to the event ! As far as I remember I’ve never heard any criticism of Richard from my dance friends, although usually pupils do criticise their teachers; but not in this case. On the contrary, his style, manners and appearance make him a model for the harmonious unity of the outer and inner worlds. The dance class began and then the social dancing when the Great Pretenders, a brilliant rockabilly group, came on stage to perform. There were a lot of happy and jolly people. Mikhail Volotkin, a really great photographer, took pictures of Richard and also a few of me. My dancing partner joked that she also wanted to be photographed with me before I become too arrogant. During the interval, we went down to the Winter Square in front of the Esse Café, the paving stones whitened by snow. But due to the dances and the pleasant atmosphere of the event, we didn’t feel the Russian winter cold ! The warmth and fun were emanating from us and some passers-by looked at us in surprise. Then back to the event after the break; more super dancing, plus quality live music from the Great Pretenders. Finally, Richard gave a very emotional speech about Rock’n’Roll, about us, about the event and all of us loudly confirmed that Rock’n’Roll is still alive!
Brownbar, 17/12/18: Another rock’n’roll party at the Brownbar. It was organised by the dancing club “Jiving Rockets” and it was sort of celebrating the birthday of their dance teacher. During the party there were a lot of dances. I was charmed by the dance suits of the 1950s, which makes any woman a pin-up girl ! But the cherry on the top was the Charleston stroll performed by the more advanced Jiving Rockets. And then there was the dancing Jam; Girls were flying, Boys were rolling, the people were shouting and applauding. Each pair performed standard elements, adding something of their own. The dancers could not continue their performances after the jam, they were too exhausted !
Anton Palych Café, 19/12/18: Mila and myself went to the Anton Palych Café, named after the first two names of Anton Chekhov, the famous Russian writer of humourous stories and pieces. There were a lot of youngsters, drinks, soft lights and no other dancers. The group was performing rock’n’roll, but also jazz variations from latina to disco; but without any drive ! The small dance floor was empty, so we danced a little and then left.
Irish Pub, 22/12/18: Mila was happy with the reception she had received at Anton Palych for her dancing. But she is fond of the Cats. Not the Blue Cats, but our Russian Raw Cats, who were at the Irish pub this night. No free tables, but lots of noise and hubbub, beer flows and the Raw Cats ! In an area equal to 4 phone booths there were 6 fun women, a drunken pair, one very tall and one very thin gentlemen with a very small woman (as if in a Charles Dickens’ novel !). Meanwhile some guests came to that area to call, to watch or to listen. The waiters were sailing through with drinks and dishes and 30 kg beer torpedoes on their shoulders, like some kind of Marx Brothers’ comedy ! And we danced ! Rock, polka, salsa, shag – once the Raw Cats’ Drive has got you, you stay with it till the end.
Sugar Art Café, 09/01/19: On to the Sugar Art Cafe, where the Moscow Dancing Rebels, a Moscow based rock’n’roll dancing club, had their party. It was a very cold night ! So cold that the GPS on my smartphone displayed that I was at home (and it didn’t want to go out) ! Aah, Russian winter is not for the Europeans, even virtual ones. There was a big dance floor. The group performing were the Betty Boop Lovers. Apart from their standard rockabilly programme that night they also did some more contemporary stuff – not bad at all.
Powerhouse Club, 11/01/19: Another rock’n’roll gig, this time at the Powerhouse Club. Starting time was 23:00 and Donna and the Contrabands stepped on stage at midnight. This was a real party! Suits, Boots and Make-up ! The guards even asked the guests whether they “dug” the event they were attending. 2 bars, 1 dance hall with 1 stage, good music, fine crowd and everybody danced; plus some annoying persons standing along the walls with beer in hands – they occupied precious areas of the dance floor ! Donna and the Contrabands started their gig. Their leader – a European crumbly girl, wearing tight black slacks and glasses, she was sort of a “diabetic” type and had a very good voice. And the band had good drive ! The crowd line-danced, stepping and knocking in proper timing. Lots of shouting and “wows” ! We found a tiny area in the lobby to dance. Then another very good group, the Del Sotos, gave us a quality rock’n’roll set. Before we left there was a gentlemen of our age but with only a half set of teeth, who told us he was sure that rock’n’roll will return big time back to Moscow; and that we reminded him of the best rock’n’roll years of his youth of the 1980s and he wished us success!
Sonya the Fishergirl Restaurant, 12/01/19: The Moscow Beatballs presented a gig in Sonya the Fishergirl restaurant. Due to the bad weather it started half an hour late and we had time to test one of the Odessa style desserts at the restaurant – tiramisus made out of pancakes. I liked it because it was soft and not sweet. I think I can make it by myself using homemade cottage cheese instead of mascarpone + pancakes + chocolate powder. The Beatballs started to sing and play and we started to dance. During the break we talked to the band. They thanked us for our support for the gig. They perform in their own inventive style, mixing the parts of the various songs in Russian and English, so the guests are constantly in jolly suspense about what song is going to be next ! The leader gave his card to Mila and promised her that at the next gig they’d perform some of her favourite songs, especially for her. Of course this made her happy.
Vyzotskiy Centre, 16/01/19: We visited the Vyzotskiy centre where the Lowcosters celebrated the birthday of one of the female members of their band.The place to dance was among the table area, so it was a little bit difficult to keep us from the hits of the other pairs of dancers.
Unfortunately, there had been no advice given to respect other dancers and I had to make 2 “invisible” outside leg kicks (like Charlie Chaplin) to a drunken pair, who had nudged Mila. The pair understood me properly and passed one pair away from us. After the interval some stand-alone dancers joined the dance floor – the women were very good, 2 to 3 of them resembled hopping turkeys to me. As for the male dancers, well one of them was dancing with 3 glasses – a pair on his nose and another with wine in his hand. It was like some kind of Benny Hill sketch, when a guest at the bar watches the woman through the glass of wine and with each sip she becomes more and more younger and attractive. His hips were out of his control too with each sip; first he used them to bow from side to side, then to hula-hoop and finished by gyrating them backwards and forwards. Don’t be AFreud to see his darkest desire ! Another gentleman joined the dance. He was of a Caucasian type; the straight pose, slow turns left and right with the help of his arms. It looked like he was trying to wash a car, as if his automobile was a Mercedes or maybe a BMW. Having finished washing his virtual car he started to virtual wash his belly, with invisible cheerleader pompoms ! I’m sorry but it was so funny that I hardly could keep myself calm.
Thankyou Alex, for all those Moscow style rock’n’roll gig reviews ! And Many Thanks for your warm words above, about my birthday bash on 15th December. Alex will conclude his review of the Moscow scene with one more metaphor-filled piece for you next month ! We may be a long way away from you over there in the UK, but for sure we share the same rockin’ Culture. In the words of the 1950s classic Heartbeats number, “You’re a thousand miles away, but I still have your love to remember”. Rock On !