Naked by Night in St. Petersburg

I met a disguinguished man about my age in New York. He is Joseph Romero, the editor of, a website devoted to international art, music, theater, dance and fine art. He was erudite, but friendly, and he spoke French and English and I’m sure more languages. We dined on filet, and sipped some Spanish wine. A man spoke about Spain and why we should visit and write there. Intrigued later, I visited, registered, and found this fascinating glimpse into Mother Russia, written by Colin Graham

“Partying Petersburgers like to get naked. In fact, you can see them disrobing in public just about anywhere during a night out. Those who strip–often failed ballet dancers– may be professionals, or just drunken enthusiasts. But from glitzy rip-off joints to gritty dive bars, they get up on the closest perch at hand, and wiggle it about as nature intended. Add lights, thumping music and another funked-up body (taut or not, opposite sex or not), and the average exhibitionist, ten-a-penny in these parts, will entwine with a stranger in an ad hoc fleshy coalition of the willing.

Of course, Petersburg clubs open and shut like doors, and only a handful have survivied since the nineties when hedonism kicked off in Russia. Those venues that promote ribald displays of naked bodies tend to be more vulnerable to natural selection than others, probably because they lose novelty value very quickly; after all, there’s always some rival nearby ready to be just a little bit naughtier.

Rossis, however, on ul Zodchevo Rossi 1/3, has held on, and is in rude health at the moment. The club operates out of a red brick basement which looks and feels like a cellar jam-packed with pie-eyed clubbers. It can get very hot and sweaty down there (which of course motivates people to take their clothes off); and the management loosens up its punters in the no nonsense, militantly vulgar style that the Russians have made their own. Women pay a cursory amount (around US $3), and may drink, on the house, as much champagne as they can handle. A male stripper jumps up on the bar.

Within seconds, an inebriated young woman has joined him on the podium and, with no coy giggles or blushes, peels away her party gear with relish. He looks rather wooden by comparison– after all, he’s on duty, but she’s enjoying a night out. An impromptu striptease and simulated sex is as good a way of doing this as any other, at least in St Petersburg.