How to Blow Through $40,000 In One Night

Party with oil barons and lingerie models in over-the-top Moscow.

MOSCOW -- April 29, 2008 -- The word to describe Moscow's thriving nightlife: decadent.

"It's easy to spend $40,000 in a night here," says Michel, a businessman who preferred to not mention his last name, inside Dyagilev -- one of Moscow's most expensive clubs.

In a city with more billionaires than New York or London, nothing is considered too opulent or too extravagant. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the clutch of elite Muscovite nightclubs frequented only by the fabulously wealthy and stunningly beautiful.

Put more simply by Alex, another anonymous club-going Muscovite: "I don't think I have any friends who aren't billionaires."

Having traveled extensively around the world, I thought I had seen my share of nightclubs. From Miami to London to Beirut, I have been awed by $3,000 magnums of champagne served with fireworks, impressed by roofs that open to reveal the night sky, and delighted by dance floors that fill with foam.

This is part two in's 10-part special series on nightlife around the world. Click here every weekday through May 9, 2008 for the latest story.

Then I came to Moscow. In the first place, you won't even get into a nightclub unless you are either seriously rich, seriously connected or seriously hot (or perhaps if you are a journalist writing a story on Moscow nightlife).

"Face control," as it is known here, is brutal and if the bouncers don't like the look of you, you aren't going anywhere. One bouncer, Pasha, has become so well known here in Moscow that a pop song was written about him. The lyrics go something like this: "Face control, you are not getting into the club today. Pa-pa-pa-pasha."

If and when you do manage to get into one of Moscow's top nightclubs, it is well worth going through the humiliation of face control, and even the subsequent pain of paying $20 for a beer. Put simply, the Russians know how to party.

The notorious Dyagilev club, which recently mysteriously burned down, was designed like an old theatre with gilded gold boxes for the VIPs, red velvet seats and high ceilings. Waiters in dinner jackets presented trays of exotic fruits and platters of fresh sushi to oligarchs and their hungry, supermodel girlfriends.

At about 2 or 3 a.m., a show began on a catwalk suspended above the revelers. There were lingerie shows and avant-garde, modern dance performances set to opera music with techno beats. Gold and silver confetti sprayed down on the crowds.

Soho Rooms has now taken over Diaghilev's claim as the hottest place in town. It's the hardest door in Moscow, and once inside you're confronted by a dizzying display of haute couture and hip design.

Leather-upholstered armchairs and roaring fireplaces are mixed with modern chandeliers and an onyx bar to create an ambience of classic elegance and futuristic chic. Go-go dancers gyrate on the window sills to the best DJs shuttled in from around the world. So it's not surprising that the price for the smallest table in the house starts at $4,000.

But perhaps the greatest allure of Soho Rooms is its pool terrace. Once the snow has melted, clubbers move out to the sun-warmed terrace for a dip in one of two swimming pools, or simply take in the stunning views of Moscow.

If scantily clad women, over-priced champagne and general hedonism is not your bag, then Moscow's debaucherous nightlife might not be for you. But if bling is your thing, then you will be hard pressed to find a more vibrant and lavish night out.