Monday, February 8, 2010

Feis Kontrol

Last weekend my ego took a hit when I was turned away from a club by the doormen. I was indiscriminately refused entry because of my hat, or perhaps because of the other eight guys I was with, or perhaps because of Wonderpant's hat. Maybe it was just bad timing. One way or another, I was feis kontrolled.

Moscow's infamous feis kontrol (exactly what it sounds like: face control) bars anyone they deem not good-looking enough from entering any given club. Even Mytischi has feis kontrol at it's three clubs.

Feis kontrol is completely arbitrary and it's impossible to plan on going to just one club in Moscow because half your group may get in and the other half turned away for no apparent reason. To make matters worse, there is no real "downtown" in Moscow and the night life is spread throughout the city. Being the largest city in Europe and the 7th largest city in the world, an alternate venue could be miles away and that means an evening runs the risk of being ruined by some over-muscled feis kontrol guy named "Pasha".

Although feis kontrol is completely arbitrary and is completely up to the mood of the guy at the door, there are some precautions a potential clubber can take to increase the odds of getting in.
  1. Dress nice. Sloppy t-shirt and ripped jeans with dirty sneakers won't get you into a club in the U.S. In hyper-fashion-sensitive Moscow, don't even leave home dressed like that let alone attempt to get into a club.
  2. If you're a guy, make sure you have some chicks with you. It doesn't matter if they're falling down drunk and throwing up in a snowbank, your odds are greatly increased by the ability of the club to cram as many members of the female gender in as possible. If you're a group of guys with no girls, then it's a bottle of vodka and a kitchen table followed by some porn for you.
  3. If you're a girl, enjoy the evening.
  4. Don't be born ugly. Sure, in the western world ugly people have rights, but in Moscow ugly people aren't allowed outside after dark. Unfortunately, if you are ugly, there's not much you can do about it. If you're an ugly girl then some great hair and a bit of cleavage may increase your odds. If you're an ugly guy, see point #2.
  5. Be white. Much like point #4, Moscow isn't an easy place to live for people who are of a different ethnic background. Those with north-east Asian heritage, such as Japanese, Korean and Chinese, won't have too much difficulty (at least the girls won't), but those of a middle-eastern or central Asian persuasion probably won't be seeing too much of Moscow's famed nightlife.
  6. Finally, look and act like you have money. Even if you had to beg your administrator for a 500 rouble advance on Friday, dress and act at the door as if though your father owns an oil field or an investment bank. Again, this won't guarantee you anything, but it will increase your odds. A few English or German words may help, as many Russians think money grows on trees in those countries.

Until last weekend I had never been turned away by feis kontrol. In fact, Quagmire and I have been ushered into a club in the past. On Saturday, however, we didn't follow any of the above guidelines.

Wonderpants and I started drinking on the elektrishka into Moscow around 2 pm, then we spent the entire afternoon at a pub drinking pints and watching soccer on a big screen TV (Liverpool vs Evereton). We were dressed in jeans and t-shirts. Then Ms. Australia invited us over to Gem's flat, where more people were drinking. Then everyone decided to go out on the town. It took 3 cars to get to the Kitay Gorod section of Moscow, near the Kremlin, and when Wonderpants and I arrived we met 8 other guys from Gem's party at the door. We said "Hey, what's going on?" to them at which point feis kontrol, realizing that were now a group of 10 guys wearing jeans waiting to get in, slammed the door in our face.

There were two women with Wonderpants and I; SDD (Schangledoodledandy) and Ms. Seattle, but they were tucked away behind the guys and I don't know if feis kontrol saw them. Even if they had, the ratio of men to women was too high. When the car with the rest of the girls showed up feis kontrol wouldn't let the guys in (no problem for the women), so Wonderpants and I took a 1000 rouble taxi back to Mytischi and called it a night.

Because nightlife can happen at any time without warning in Moscow, it may be best to always be prepared to get past feis kontrol.

The back of the Kremlin

In the car on the way to the club in the Kitay Gorod with the Kremlin in front of us.

Outside the club where Wonderpants and I were feis-kontrolled

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