Today we made plans to meet up with the other group of American students that were also in St. Petersburg. We took a bus to Nevsky Prospekt and were going to meet them at a metro station. But they called and asked us to meet them at Sbarro’s Pizza, across from Gostiny Dvor. On the way there, one of the students from Angola called me and suggested meeting up. So I said to meet us at the Gostiny Dvor metro stop and we’d all three groups meet up. We finally met up with the American group and they said they wanted to buy vodka, sit in the park and drink it, then go to a club later. So we started walking and looking for a store to buy liquor at.
My friend and I went off together to buy beer and when we got back, we found that the group had went on ahead. We had made a plan to go to the park near the Bronze Horseman statue so we headed in that direction. But we didn’t see anyone there. We texted my friend’s cousin and he said that they were now near the Hermitage, then by the bridge. Then, moments later, he texted and said that it was late and they had to leave to catch the metro and we should meet up earlier next time. We were a bit shocked and my friend was upset because she wanted to hang out with them. It was still a bit early and we weren’t sure if they really needed to catch the metro (they lived on other islands) or if they were ditching us. But then her cousin texted us the number of several of the guys from the group who decided to stay behind. We finally met up with them on the Palace Bridge. Apparently there was some sort of holiday or celebration because there were people everywhere and the columns were lit up. There was also a small concert going on and there were bottles and trash everywhere.
As soon as we met up with them, the guys from Angola started calling me, saying that they were waiting at the metro and asking where we were. The guy who called me kept saying that he had been waiting for a long time with his friends. I don’t know if it was a communication barrier, if he couldn’t explain himself well enough, but he just kept repeating that. I tried to explain to him the situation and I told him where we were. But maybe there was some misunderstanding (we were both speaking Russian) and he said he didn’t know where we were. I was surprised because we were right near the Hermitage and they were on Nevsky Prospekt. I thought that anyone who’d been living in St. Petersburg for eight months, as he had, would know where it was. But again, it could have simply been a miscommunication.
So I wanted to go meet up with them because they had been waiting for us for quite a while and apparently weren’t going to come to us. But when we met up with the other Americans, they had suddenly made friends with some Indian guys who were in Russia studying to be doctors. They said they had a boat and invited us to go on a boat ride with them. Everyone wanted to do it but I felt a bit suspicious, plus I wanted to go meet the others at the metro. After they couldn’t rent a boat, we all decided to go to the metro together.
We arrived near the metro but didn’t see anyone. So I called them to see where they were. Turns out there are two different entrances to the metro. But the guy I spoke to couldn’t explain to me where it was. Suddenly he put me on the phone with a girl. I thought she was with them, a friend from Angola, but when we met up with them there weren’t any girls with them. I assume they flagged down a Russian girl and asked her to speak to me. But she explained to me where they were, telling me what she saw, which signs on buildings, etc. Finally we met up with them and they suggested going to a night club, Club Metro.
So we grabbed an unofficial taxi and the guys from Angola helped us to negotiate how much and where to go. We got in and off we went. The whole way there we were speaking Russian and English and my friend was speaking French mixed in and due to the flow of alcohol the language came so easy, even for her at her beginning level, so it was quite exhilarating. There was also music on the radio, the driver was going fast and it was night time so it felt like we were flying through the night, the city lights blurring past us.
Then we arrived at the club and went in. But the bouncers or security at the door only let in 3 of us at a time. I don’t know if there was much of the legendary face control because we hadn’t planned to go clubbing and weren’t exactly dressed up. After we got in the guys paid for us so I don’t know how much it cost or what the stipulations were. After paying we received tickets for free drinks (water, Sprite, etc.) and went in. There was a security woman at the door and they looked in the girls purses and patted down some of the guys. They questioned my friend about how old she was and I told them she was 18. They didn’t ask for ID. Then I was surprised that they said we couldn’t use our cameras inside and that I had to put my sunglasses away (I had hooked them on my shirt when I took them off).
After entering we were directed to the coatroom. We took off our jackets and the girls left their purses. We were given small plastic numbers to take with us. The club itself was amazing. There were three dance floors: techno playing on the first, hip hop on the second and techno again on the third. There was also a bar on the each floor and tables with places to sit. Also on the third floor there were male dancers dancing above on a balcony, wearing nothing but tiny g-strings. I’d never seen anything like that in the clubs back home and wondered if it was standard here. I’d at the least expected to see girls dancing like that, not guys. Some of the Americans we were with commented that it was the gay floor. Perhaps, but I don’t know.
The only negative thing about the club was that everyone was smoking inside. At first I thought it was dry ice but then I realized it was cigarette smoke. By 4am it was beginning to take a toll on me and my eyes were watering. We took short breaks in between dancing and sat on the floor where there was a special section for sitting with small pillows lined up against the wall. We also had to sit behind a wire and this was enforced by security who would come from no where and remind us where to sit. Also, when we went to take a photo, security quickly came over and made sure that we only took photos of our friends, not of the club itself.
There was also a small stage above one of the dance floors and my friend and I went to dance there. But there were some Indian guys who started dancing with us. One asked me, “What’s your name, baby?” in English. I responded in Russian and said I didn’t understand. At that moment I realized one of the many advantages of knowing both English and Russian (or any other language for that matter). We finally left around 6.00 and walked to the metro, then caught a bus home and went to sleep. All in all it was a very interesting yet tiring experience. I doubt we’ll be repeating it anytime soon even though it was quite fun. The geography of the city and the transportation system, however, prevent going out very often as we live on another island and the public transportation stops and the bridges open.