After an almost 30-year run, legendary-but-seedy Moscow nocturnal establishment Night Flight is now not ‘doing it tonight’


Does the surprising closure of a nightlife staple referred to as a spot for “gentlemen” to choose up “professional” women, recommend that ladies within the Russian capital have been liberated sufficient to cease sleazy foreigners from operating amok?

On the final day of March, certainly one of Moscow’s oldest – and most questionable – expat haunts, Night Flight, locked shut its closely mirrored doorways for the primary time since they opened in 1991. The membership was based across the time of the Soviet collapse by Swedish businessmen Sonny Lundkvist and Hokan Polhammar, alongside their Russian associate Yury Giverts. It occupied a primary spot on Tverskaya Street, only a stone’s throw away from Pushkin Square and a mere 300 meters from Red Square.

It was almost 30 years in the past when Night Flight first sprang to life, simply as Russian society entered a interval of turbulence and uncertainty. In a 2016 interview with the now-defunct ​Moscow ‘Expat Life’ journal, founding associate Giverts defined how “the biggest problem was when we started to create our own product. At that time, the shops were totally empty. The Swedish partners had to bring everything in to build the club. I mean EVERYTHING –​ glasses, porcelain, candles, toothpicks, screws, wallpaper, EVERYTHING.”

“Of course, we also had to bring in normal alcohol, which was authentic and not criminally produced,” he continued. “This all came in on several trucks and arrived on the 15th of August 1991.” Trucks carrying Swedish produce would maintain arriving till the center of the ‘90s, to combat the shortage of supplies and the empty shelves that were a common sight in supermarkets.

In August 1991, the owners of Night Flight witnessed a procession of tanks rolling down the street outside their fledgling club as an attempt was made to remove President Mikhail Gorbachev from power. Although both Gorbachev and the club survived the attempted coup, only one of them made it past December of that year. It was thus that Night Flight ​was born of caterpillar tracks and imported Swedish meatballs.

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The membership quickly made a reputation for itself amongst Moscow’s elite expatriate group and the nouveau riche. Tales of drinks being paid for with all the pieces from {dollars} to kroner and yen highlights the worldwide taste of the viewers in attendance. “For every slow dance, future oligarchs would throw 100-dollar bills to the girls behind the tables. People on the streets were genuinely amazed and happy to see foreigners, and Stockholm, in comparison to giant Moscow, seemed like an alley,” stated the membership’s normal supervisor, Swede Mats Jansson – who was answerable for safety within the ‘90s – in a 2014 interview with Afisha Magazine.

Night Flight was geared towards the expat community in more ways than one. It not only sported a Scandinavian-style restaurant and main bar with a list of recognisable cocktails, but also a VIP lounge and a small disco bar where one could meet, as the website ​My Guide Moscow put it, “a stunning array of local beauties all dressed to thrill and eager to engage you in Russian or English.”

The aforementioned “local beauties” are perhaps the most controversial aspect of Night Flight’s reputation. In a 2016 article by ​Russia Beyond, Jansson is once more quoted as saying, “In the beginning of the 1990s, meeting a foreigner was like winning the lottery.” He went on to admit that 99 % of the women who got here to Night Flight have been “professionals.” The catch was that the prostitutes didn’t bodily work within the membership, as there have been no personal rooms; they arrived identical to some other visitor and have been additionally charged the fairly costly entry price. What they did exterior of the membership did “not concern the management,” making it a totally authorized venue.

One doesn’t need to look far to search out proof of why the membership’s slogans have been “quite simply the best place to be” and “do it tonight…” Do what tonight, chances are you’ll marvel? Well, ​TripAdvisor presents a trove of experiences that leaves little to the creativeness. The reviewers overtly trace in direction of the actual motive why a lot of Moscow’s male expat inhabitants has ‘graced’ the place.

Russia Beyond deemed the membership a “tsardom of prostitutes,” and multiple overview on ​TripAdvisor referred to it as Moscow’s principal “brothel.” As coyly acknowledged by a patron from Colombia, “one thing’s for sure. You don’t want to go there for eating.” So, what do you wish to go there for? The resounding reply is unsurprising: for the “millions of mostly attractive young Russian girls,” as Jean-Claude C put it.

Of the 60 evaluations that have been left on Night Flight’s ​TripAdvisor ​web page, there was just one remark posted by a feminine foreigner. The the rest of the observations have been from males who left ideas like, “it’s coated as a dating place but you get the idea when she tells you the hourly rate,” and “an establishment where the food – let’s say – is not the priority, more intended for gentlemen looking to take late-night entertainment back to their hotels.”

Upon scrolling by means of these pages, it isn’t troublesome to think about what is really meant by the tantalizing prospect of “do(ing) it tonight.”

Amongst the ocean of salivating gents, you could find one glowing overview left by Linda from Canada on the web site, recalling: “Me and my husband went to Night Flight in late September of 2011. The place is known for catering to gents, but both of us had fantastic time… The girls that hang out at Night Flight are ALL absolutely gorgeous, model material. One named Olga looked like Rebecca Romijn in her best times, I am not kidding. And I am a woman, even I was impressed.”

Okay, Linda! While this was a uncommon breath of feminine perspective, the tone was almost similar to that of her male counterparts, and he or she didn’t stray removed from the overriding theme of blatant objectification. The suffocating sense of the male gaze was the vibe that permeated all through the archives of on-line commentary, in addition to throughout the dancefloor within the membership.

Night Flight was lower than a 12 months in need of reaching 30 when it closed down unexpectedly this March, maybe signaling a change within the ranges of poisonous masculinity which can be current inside a lot of the predominantly male expat group right here in Moscow. In this sense, the top of Moscow’s “wildest” celebration might be argued as being an indication of the steadily growing pattern of liberated ladies who now not really feel like they should promote themselves (in any sense of the phrase) to achieve monetary independence.

Unfortunately, it was most definitely to do with the truth that the razor-thin margins of the enterprise couldn’t stand up to a lockdown and the following actuality of our Covid economic system.

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