TALLINN - Almost three years ago, the New York Times announced that Tallinn was the party capital of Europe. This was shock, for those who have ever been to any other city and seen the nightlife there.
"Tallinn - a party capital, this is definitely a good joke," said one U.K. club promoter working for many years here. Now that the dreaded hard landing is happening how is Tallinn doing. Can the city keep it up and what kind of partying can one can get here? The Baltic Times decided to investigate the truth about open-till-the-morning dens.
Tallinn has a population of 400 000 people. The 1000 or so entertainment places are quite an impressive number per capita. Tallinn is becoming a tourism city and to attract visitors it has to provide entertainment. Three years ago price levels for many foreigners were quite low. Today prices are more or less the same as in the rest of Europe. The club scene is elitist. Successful clubs never host stag parties and the best ones rarely let non-members in, which decreases the attractiveness of clubs because there isn't a culture of easily accessible fun.
Feedback from some visitors is quite negative.
"Actually it is not so cheap here, the prices are almost of the same level as back home and face controls with members-only policies at some places are driving me mad," says Diego from Italy, who is visiting his friends in Tallinn. Club and event promoters say that quality is replacing quantity and even though it has a long to develop, a real club culture has begun.
"We are trying to somehow educate and raise a new party generation here, bringing new artists, creating club atmosphere and showing new ways to enjoy a party, through the means of quality music," says the promoter of the Seduction Discotheque.
There are many different night clubs in Tallinn. Each has its own specialty, so it is quite easy to choose one or more matching your mood, for the party.
"What I like the most about partying in Tallinn is the possibility to make the round of all places in one night and in spite of that they are all close; still they are very different," said one of the city's most famous DJ's, N'Deep.
The city's ethnic make-up also influences party culture. There are clubs for Russians and clubs for Estonians.
"Estonians are reflecting the stream of technological and rational advance of the their own culture, Russians, in their own turn, are responding more to the soul, the never-ending source of the inspiration and support for the lifestyle. Black and white, yin and yang, you choose," one promoter said.
And there is a lot to choose from. A person enjoying one place can hate another. Promoters believe the coming economic crisis will definitely clean up not very good places and make the survivors even better.
Promoters feel calling Tallinn the best party place in Europe, was definitely too loud a statement even back in 2005.
A look at some of the main venues
Hollywood night club is a veteran of the clubbing scene. It is located in the building of old cinema on the edge of Old Town. The party crowd is usually quite young with lots of tourists. The dance floor is always packed, and everyone is dancing, drinking and happy. There are many events organized here from time to time and even if there is none, resident DJs and barmen know how to put you in the mood.
Prive is located in the Old Town, not far from Hollywood. It is considered one of the trendiest and most expensive clubs in town. It is not easy to get in without a membership card or a table reservation, which should also be booked in advance, otherwise expect to queue all through the night. Prive is quite a small club, with bohemian stylishness and great events on weekends. This is the club which always hosts famous Ado's, artists and special events like the Playboy pajamas parties. The night here usually starts at the Stereo lounge, located next door and which has some of the coolest design in Tallinn.
Bonbon is located next to the harbor in an old quarry stone building. It opens on weekends only. Anybody not in the in-crowd is not welcomed here. Once you getting inside you understand why. The dance floor is packed. A portrait of Bacchus, the ancient Roman god of wine, smiles at the clientele above the DJ room. Bright decorative colors and huge crystal chandeliers are the finishing touch for this exclusive club. This is a real club, calling it a disco seems a little understated; visitors here are not after drinking and dancing or meeting someone new, everyone pretty much knows everyone and gathers here for discussing the happening of the week, while slowly sipping Champagne or whiskey on the rocks.
Club von Uberblingen opened in 2007 and caused a lot of noise. It was a very promising addition to the Tallinn's club scene. Unfortunately now it is empty. It is clear now that it will be mostly hosting concerts, due to its location out of the center, size and staging possibilities. The design is something Tallinn lacked. It is an old factory with the walls left just as they are and the rest done crudely on purpose. The red velvet sofas and soft curtains in the VIP-balconies show its exclusivity. In any case that's a bit a pity its is not more popular, with good promotion its time may still come. "berlingen is great place in terms of design, but something is there and if it not a special event I would never consider going there," said Alexander one clubber.
Seduction Discotheque, celebrates its first anniversary in November. It is probably the most popular club at the moment. Before re-opening it used to be R.I.F.F. club, but now except the location and the owner, nothing is the same. The decoration is super rich, with lots of gold and black. An amazing DJ stand downstairs is upholstered with golden leather, black lacquer tables and enticing sofas inviting you to sip Champagne with your friends.
However the design is nothing compared to the music you can get here, the best DJ's and artists are playing here and this is the one and only club in Tallinn, with so-called club music, which you can't hear on the radio, but will make you dance till you drop. The club is also famous for hosting special monthly events, like the Orange Bent Lee party. It started in the times of R.I.F.F. and just celebrated its second anniversary. It's a party no serious clubber would dare miss. Orange Bent Lee always has something new and unexpected, something experimental, be it new beat, light or sound. Promoters invite the best DJ's and artists from anywhere and there is always only one thing they have in common, they are not like everybody else.
"If we look back at R.I.F.F. times and compare people back then, we can see that the club scene of Tallinn is changing very much, it is still a lot of work ahead, but the future looks much brighter," the event organizer said.