A blast from the near past

  • 2008-02-06
  • By Adam Krowka

RETROFITTING: Don't let the ordinary exterior of the Marat nightclub fool you. Inside is a nostalgia lovers' dream.

TALLINN - Although Tallinn remains bereft of a flux capacitor, "Back to the Future" type time-traveling machine, a new club has opened near the city center that can pull all of the same tricks. Marat nightclub is located in a building which was once a factory for a clothing label of the same name, popular in the 1980s. All elements of the club are meant to give attendees a retro kick-back.

Upon entering the club, one is met with a bicycle rack and a shoe cleaner in the shape of a dog. Not exactly standard club fare; and the funky feel only spreads when clubbers penetrate deeper. A "starter" bar is located in the lobby, where people can relax on couches while waiting for entry.
A "number system" is used to stagger the crowds doing the time warp, confusing those who are used to standing and waiting in long lines. After paying the entry fee and going through a short hallway, excited clubbers are faced with a... box. Although it may appear to be a go-go dancer booth built for 10, the structure is used for light and sound controls and to set the rest of the club apart from the entrance.
Everything in the interior has been designed to give one the feeling of being on the exterior of the club. Designed by Pille Tael of Loft, elements such as large inner windows (original from a church) and a "smoking house" reflect elements of traditional Estonian summer homes. Furniture covered in white sheets in a small lounge area behind the DJ accentuates the experience. 

Odd artsy elements dominate every corner and color of the room (and bathroom). These range from lamps protruding from the wall shaped as heads to the green and yellow paint and carpet designs used.
Music played in Marat flows along with the retro feel, and is strictly kept to anything from the 1970-90s. From classic old-school Estonian hits to Earth, Wind & Fire, the selection encourages an up-beat crowd ready to tackle prom night over and over again.

The well-selected range of musical classics brings out an interesting crowd that crosses the musical divide. Those who come to relive their past and their previous weekend are not too young and not too old: a healthy sampling of 20 to 30-somethings. A 21+ rule helps to maintain this demographic landscape.
Prices aren't surprising in Marat if you are a regular club attendee, and the bartending staff is very efficient and competent (not to mention makes a great White Russian).
Given, not everything can be perfect in a nostalgic recreation of the past. Many people wonder if they have accidentally stumbled into a late-night, hip Hansa Bank when they are faced with the number system. On the particular night that I came out to the club, the DJ seemed to have returned to the youth of his skills. These are, however, bugs to be worked out as with any other new establishment.

Marat is called a "(t)ooklub" in Estonian, a takeoff of "oo" (night) with parenthysized "t" ("work"). The space can be rented for conferences during the daytime, allowing bosses to take workers out to a catered summer cottage environment without the hour drive.

Lace up your kicks, fluff your hair, and come to party in Marat like its 1989.

Marat (t)ooklubi
Tartu mnt 63