Oh yeah, you better believe - the city that doesn't sleep, quite possibly the gayest (both in terms of fun and rainbow representation) in Russia has some faaaabulous secrets you just need to discover.
Tallinn Bearty team has distilled our collective observations, mixed it with both local and visitor experiences, projected it on the background of bears with their preferences and here's what we came up with - our very own subjectively objective look at places you should know and visit when in St.Petersburg as a proud bear. LGBT life is bubbling in this city, hidden from prowing public eye!
DRAG DRAG DRAG
First, St.Petersburg LGBT nightclubs and bars have traditionally developed a certain business model that includes offering things both similar but still unique to each venue. The things we are talking about are - drag shows, a la carte menus, karaokes and dancehall. And for bears, lets include hereby facilities for getting off, as well.
Let's first group the clubs we list by the offering in these categories:
Drag shows (or as they call it 'travesty') - Kabare, Central Station, Barca, Labyrinth, Golubaya Ustritsa
Karaoke (special rooms or hours, depending on size of establishment) - Kabare, Central Station, Golubaya Ustritsa, Labyrinth
A la carte menus - Kabare, Central Station, Barca, Priscilla
Dancehall - Kabare, Central Station (2), Barca, Golubaya Ustritsa, Priscilla (more than one room), Labyrinth
Getting it off (yeap, we mean sex) - Bunker, Sauna, Labyrinth, Barca, Central Station, Golubaya Ustritsa (all have special rooms and facilities)
Or, if that makes a better picture, use this comparative table we made:
The 2 biggest clubs in the listing are Kabare (the oldest continuously active gay club in town) and Central Station (same as famous CS in Moscow). Both boost extensive programmes, full a la carte menus, several bars and obligatory karaoke. Central Station entrance is free for men. Kabare specializes in drag-shows, bringing monthly new program. Drag-shows are solid part of Central Station, as well. Both clubs have 2-3 shows per night, not repeating. Barca, Labyrinth and Golubaya Ustritsa shows are smaller by scale but always fun to enjoy.
LA LA LAND
Russians love their karaoke probably no less than Japanese where it originates from. Rainbow people love singing their hearts out to romantic and pop and show tunes, so expect lots of Russian and sing-alongs. That said, you can always find a tune to sing that you want to impress people with.
GROWL AND GROPE
As to sex (bear) factor we have to praise Labyrinth that caters even to some milder fetishes and have lockers, yet it remain welcoming in their atmosphere to all. Barca has a smaller darkroom labyrinth (safe, with electronic keys from the bar) and as the place works 24/7 we see it becoming a popular spot for anytime-quickies. Central Station has reserved a whole upper floor to men, where one can also retreat into the adjacent dark room. All mentioned offer free safe-sex protections. Sauna provides darkrooms and a gym (for those who like action while working out).
Here's a Beartyfied map with all our reviewed venues marked on it.
So, next time in the Venice-of-the-North (that's St.Pete) don't miss the fun. It is very safe to visit the clubs. All of them have closed door policy, sometimes the doors are so discrete they are hard to find even. Very efficient security guards at the door is a must, all the owners of our list of clubs (all gay owned) know that well.
Links to the clubs public pages online:
GOLUBAYA USTRITSA (Blue Oyster)
Door security is so well trained that few years back (that was in the Central Station) they didn't let even police squad in, that was brought along by scandalous civil servant Milonov in order to raid the place. Also, expect to be kicked out swiftly if you start behaving like an asshole. Have fun, join fun, but don't ruin the fun.
SIdenote: because St.Petersburg gay clubs work basically till the last client leaves these have become a safe spot for many daring straight people to finish off their wild night's partying. Again, security men at the doors do excellent job screening off baddies, so no worries there. You should just know there are some straights in the clubs, anytime after 4am, should you still be out and about at these times. Oh, and some of them could be looking for a quick encounter, too.
Tallinn Bearty's mission is to power bear brotherhood in a way that will advance equal rights for everyone, in or out of our own community.