There are some Bishkek old-hands who say that things aren’t what they used to be when it comes to nightlife in Bishkek. They talk of legendary nights of vomit, carnage and debauchery - delights that contemporary Bishkek struggles to offer. Not so, we say. Take your pick from the list below and we’re sure there’s still enough carnage, vomit and debauchery in town to keep everyone happy.
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Coco Cabana (32, Chui)
Coco Cabana is a new and trendy lounge bar/disco that describes itself as having: "Fascinating sound and light, trendy mixes, incendiary Go-Go girls, spectacular dance shows and, of course, the most positive atmosphere for communication!" Definitely worth a try, then.
Fire & Ice(Chui/Erkindik)
Joy of joys, after a several month refurbishment Fire and Ice has reopened. Reports anybody?
Heaven (Frunze/Pravda - in the Hotel Dostuk)
As Heaven is found inside a hotel it is suprisingly unseedy. In fact it stands out for being a bastion of the well-dressed (if one is generous). Turn up in tatty jeans and a t-shirt and one may feel a little out of place; then again, one may not give a shit. Tables by the dancefloor cost 1000 som but include drinks up to this value.
Golden Bull (Chui/Togolok Moldo) Tel. 620131
A Bishkek institution. Full of ex-pats and tourists literally every night of the week. Long bar, friendly staff, cheapish beer, everyone’s happy.
Gloss (Nextdoor to Retro Metro on Mira/Gorky)
Lounge bar/nightclub next door to Retro Metro.
Gvozd (Western side of the Philharmonia at Prospekt Chui 253)
Foreigners for free, urban grooves and acceptable prices at the bar. 'Gvozd' means nail in Russian, but you've probably got a better chance at the Golden Bull. It's almost like the crowd from Pharaoh have migrated.
Platinum (Behind Dvorets Sporta near Chui/Togolok Moldo)
Upmarket club with two rooms, one with the dance floor, one with a large bar. The crowd tends to be more Kyrgyz with far fewer foreigners than clubs such as the Golden Bull. Definitely a place for dressing your best, be careful not to tread on anyone's ego.
Retro Metro (24, Mira)
Bright, happy, 80’s kitsch bar, the DJ spins his records from inside the front of a VW camper van. One of the most popular places for post-2am partying.
Arbat (9, Karl Marks)
Tel. 512094; 512087
Smart ‘elite’ club popular with a slightly older crowd. Strip bar and restaurant in same building - see below.
City Club (85/1, Zhukeyeva-Pudovkina)
Tel. 511513; 510581
So exclusive it makes the Spektator crowd feel like cheap scum bags, City Club is one of the poshest clubs in town. Get past the ‘face control’ (ugly people beware) and spend your evening with gangster types, lecherous diplomats, Kazakh businessmen and a posse of young rich kids who all seem to have studied in London.
Live Music (carnage)
Promzona (16, Cholpon-Atinskaya)
Promzona’s far-flung location sadly means a taxi ride or a long walk home are in order at the end of a night. Nevertheless, this trendy live music venue has a lot going for it: good bands, an extensive menu, and a hip industrial interior featuring, strangely, a wind tunnel fan, make this one of the best nights out in Bishkek. Tuesday is Jazz night. Rock or blues bands normally play at the weekends. (Entrace between 300-500)
Sweet 60s (Kievskaya/Molodaya Gvardia)
Live cover bands play most nights. Full menu, popular with a younger crowd.
Esco-bar (Gorkova, 200m east of Tash Rabat shopping centre near the Zhukeyeva-Pudovkina/Gorkova crossing)
Named after the infamous Colombian cocaine baron, staff are unlikely to bash a line out for you on arrival. What you will get is decent tunes most nights in a 'pre-party' spot brought to you by the creators of 'Veranda'.
Zeppelin (43, Chui)
Zeppelin is in the same vein as the old Tequila Blues but not quite so spit and sawdust. On the nights we’ve visited, there’s been a line up of young rock or punk bands strutting their stuff, heavier beats seem to go down best with the young Russian crowd. Full restaurant menu.
Strip Clubs (debauchery)
Arbat (Karl Marx/Zhugulovskaya)
Arbat is a Bishkek institution. The strip club is in a specialist backroom of the nightclub of the same name, and has a lofty cover charge that keeps it sparsely populated, so you won’t have to worry about competing for a girl’s attention with too many other jackasses. (Entrance 900 som)
Shpilka (Vostok 5 district, on Chuy before Club Zeppelin)
Shpilka, or "high heels" is located in the east of Bishkek near the ‘Industrial Zone’, and is rather ironically filled with girls from the countryside. Hospitable, if somewhat coarse, this establishment is not for first timers looking to bed themselves into Bishkek’s ooch-ie-walla-walla scene.
One of the best strip clubs in Bishkek, with a good rotation of girls, mostly foreign clientele and a 500 com entrance fee. In an industry of hit-and-miss, the crème de la crème of Bishkek’s strip club connoisseurs choose this place for their slide and grind. Almost any night of the week you can count on at least five girls to be working the pole. Keep track of your drinks, however, since the dancers like to hit you up for expensive cocktails. Despite the cost of the drinking and the dancing, you do get what you pay for – poetry-in-motion pole work and lots of interaction. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, and all. (Entrance 500 som)
XXX (Manas/Kievskaya - next to the Domino Club)
Strategically placed within stumbling distance of the Metro Pub, XXX could well have the potential to give the dolls from Dolls a run for their money. Its prices are near identical to the Gorkova girl-stop, but a luxurious VIP/Lap dance room gives it some extra whammy. More of a looking place than a touching place, however, and unless you have an extra $50 spare, or feel brave in front of bouncers who are quick with their hands if you are careless with yours, stick to oggling. (Entrance 500 som)
Unknown Mystery Stripclub (Located under a furniture shop near Gorky/Sovietskaya)
This unnamed institution found under a furniture store features four stages, a full bar, comfortable leather couches and a decent line up of girls. Our seedy underworld correspondent called it "A real blast and one of the only true all night party spots in town". For more info, see the write up in issue 21.