TARTU - Johnny Depp may be living in domestic bliss in the south of France and making pirate movies for kids, but his legendary thirst for the nightlife lives on in a new Tartu night club called "Kellele Ei Meeldiks Johnny Depp?" or "Who Wouldn't Like Johnny Depp?" Located near Tartu Town Hall Square at Kompanii 2, the club is a welcome oasis of post-post-modernity in a city that is in some ways frozen in the 19th century. The nightclub is housed in one of these wedding cake-like 19th century buildings.
And as you enter the twin-glass doors you are treated to something that has been uncommon in Tartu so far 's an environment resembling the Electric Psychedelic Pussycat Swingers Club from the Austin Powers films.
Well, not exactly. But it does borrow from the psychedelic age, from the trippy script that spells out the name of the club, to the red carpeting on the walls, and, of course, the colorful light show. Then there's the photo of Johnny Depp circa 1993 looking his most metrosexual at one of the club's two bars. He looks at you as the bartender hands you a freshly poured Heineken and you shrug to yourself, thinking, "yeah, who wouldn't like Johnny Depp?" Your acclimation to the club is complete.
There are four young men 's three from Tartu, one from Tallinn 's behind the new club who decided that Tartu was not living up to its reputation as a refuge of experimental culture and was, even worse, being outdone by Tallinn's nightlife. The city's local heads were also badly in need of a place where they could smoke and listen to musicians like Depp co-owner Jarek Kasar, AKA Chalice, play mind-blowing music.
Enter Kasar himself, Rein Pakk, Andi Rungi, and Joel Ostrat. According to Ostrat, it took about half a year from conception to its April 20 opening for Who Wouldn't Like Johnny Depp? to materialize. Ostrat told The Baltic Times that it was Pakk who came up with the name but declined to discuss it further only to say with Estonian aplomb that it was chosen "because it is an interesting name."
Another decision taken to distinguish Depp from other Tartu nightclubs was to eschew A. Le Coq, the much admired south Estonian beer, for something different. "We chose Heineken because A. Le Coq is everywhere in Tartu. And besides, Heinken is a good beer," Ostrat said. Also different is the performance schedule which may include DJs, musicians, or other kinds of performance artists.
One of the artists enticed by the promise of Depp is Kasar, who used his performance on May 10 to promote his new album. Taevas ja Perse, or "Sky and ass," finds the musician delving deeper into the world of electronic music and duetting with Estonian rock icon Tonis Magi. The name of the record seems like an inside joke, but as Kasar takes the stage to spin music both from his record and from others, it suddenly becomes appropriate.
Bursts of sound waft out of the speakers at a fast rhythm until conversations at the club's tables abruptly stop, waiting for the frenzy to clear. Even Estonian rocker Vaiko Eplik, his first night at the club, looks overcome. Then the musical storm lifts, and Eplik lights another cigarette and resumes a discussion of his growing collection of musical instruments.
"For a musician it is a very logical step that if you want to make music, then you make a nightclub where you can perform this music," Kasar told The Baltic Times before he took the stage. "And no other nightclub in Tartu is playing the kind of music that we do," he said.
"There is no alternative to us," he added. "We are the most alternative nightclub that you can find in Tartu." It's also no doubt a welcome addition to a city that musicians like Kasar and Magi call home.
Who Wouldn't Like Johnny Depp?