Formerly known as Artel Bessonniza, the club was an improvisation of the famous club creator Alexey Goroby. He had just closed his Imperia Lounge project and was looking for money to make a new club. In the meantime he used the new Shakti terrace restaurant, which wasn’t working well, for his short-term club project Artel Bessonnitsa during weekend days, only after midnight.
Bessonniza means sleepless in Russian and the original owl in the logo, which was later replaced, showed that. Goroby was famous for his Moscow nightclub projects, which were always the favorites and well visited by the rich & beautiful. Goroby created clubs like Shambala, Zima, Leto, Ozen and the most famous of all: Dyagilev.
The old club days
Moscow’s nightlife is and was famous for his extravaganza and the kitsch pop clubs, filled with the super rich and models. Guys like Goroby, knew what their clientele wants and they brought horses and elefants into the nightclubs, being part of the show. Goroby always seemed to have taken some inspiration from the circus. Almost naked girls were performing trapez stunts over the heads of the dancing guests at Bessonniza in the first years.
These glam and posh clubs are dying out and Goroby was one of the first to understand, that he needs to change his concept. Imperia Lounge featured tech-house music, rather than pop or commercial house and mashups. The VIP tables were high up and had a small private room below, where the guests could go and powder their noses with coke or do anything else in privacy. The stage in the middle of the club still featured fantastic shows with dancers dressed up in constumes, which fit the theme of the nights party. Unfortunately Imperia Lounge was way too early for its time and Goroby, known for his love of cocaine and other drugs, partied more, than taking care of business, which led to the closure of Imperia Lounge.
Goroby didn’t manage to get money for a new club project and the improvised Artel Bessonniza, which was made to last for about 6 months, turned into a real club to last. After all, Bessonniza became popular. Only a year after its opening Goroby died in Bolivia. There are many rumors and stories about his death. I leave it up to you to put 1 + 1 together. After that, the owner of Shakti terrace and the below laying ICON club, took over Gorobys heritage: Bessonniza. Surprisingly the club didn’t change too much, after the initial team was replaced with the people of Sagrado. The group is the largest operator in Nightlife in Moscow and they own and operate clubs like Space (closed now), ICON, Gipsy, Akt, Isvestia Hall, Looking Rooms and many more.
Just this week on Dec. 7th Artel Bessonitza turned 4 years. It was opened in 2013 and we have been there. Not bad, for an improvised project, supposed to stay only for a few months. Bessoniza has changed since the beginning days. There are no more girls flying on trapezes over your head and even the dancers are rarely to be seen, while they used to be a prominent part of the club. Still, the club opened with Sascha Braemer, a very known Berlin techhouse DJ and even today features the best of Berlin with guest acts like Oliver Koletzki or Claptone.
Bessonniza’s art director and booker Maxim Leykin has lived in Frankfurt and is fond of the German techno and techhouse music. He has a great feel for what is becoming popular and books only the best and known acts in Germany, which often are not even known much in Moscow, yet. Stephan Bodzin is frequently performing in Bessonniza. So are Solee or even the superhouse freaks “Andhim” from Cologne. No other club in Moscow books so many acts, especially in that high booking fee segment. Leykin also has exclusive agreements with artists and they will only play at Bessonniza and no where else in Moscow.
That being said, the club has changed a lot from being the favorite hangout of the rich and famous to a high class techno (techhouse) club. Especially after the closing of Sagrados underground project Konstruktor, Bessonniza became the flagship of their cool and trendy segment. Bessonniza further received importance, after the all famous Krysha Mira afterhour club (which also featured tech-house), closed down and almost its entire staff and the main promoter, moved to Bessonniza and organize weekly Krysha Mira parties there now.
The problem of Bessoniza is, that it is still standing with one leg in the old world of the glam and posh, while it seems it wants to be Moscow’s top underground club. Actually, I would say, that Bessonniza doesn’t want to be anything and is just floating in the wind, with its art director, trying to stear it as much as it’s possible. The club is missing a clear definition and direction, to which it is heading to. The door and table policy is still based on the old days and trying to reach the rich and beautiful, while these people can’t understand the musical and interior concept and have long moved on to other venues, such as Duran Bar or Kvartira.
The music, on the other hand, is appealing to Moscow’s underground, which is irritated by the clubs history, its original creator, the door policy (strong “face control”) and some of the rich and glam guests, which are still going there, even though in much lower numbers, than before. The clubs design and interior is also not appealing to the underground crowd, which prefers a more minimalistic, fucked up and trashy approach. Needless to say, that the rich and business men, who pay 50 000 Rub and more deposit for their tables, would rather see beautiful models in high heels, than the black dressed underground folks, hopping to Tech on the dancefloor.
Underground is the new mainstream
I am curious, if Bessonniza will make the transition and to which direction it will finally swing. So far it seems to be a “fun project” by the owner(s) of Sagrado and not a commercial project.
Nevertheless, the club has its position in Moscow’s nightlife and I would even call it the #2 club in my personal rating and favorites list of Moscows main clubs (not including the underground venues). Bessoniza is a fresh alternative to Duran Bar, which is still the #1 for the rich and famous, as well as high class expats and tourists. Lets not talk about Siberia, which is a dying dinosaur, in terms of its musical concept and positioning.
You can have a great night at Bessonniza and actually hang out with the rich and famous or the underground folks in the same club. Besides, there is still enough eyecandy. I mean, high heeled, sexy dressed model types looking for an invitation to your table.
The music conception may not be everybodies cup of tea. Especially the Russian high class crowd, may have its problems with it. Fact is, that it is top notch in a global perspective and almost every weekend there are famous dj stars from Ibiza or Berlin, like Dennis Ferrer or this weekend Nick Curly & Emanuel Satie, performing at Bessonniza for its 4th birthday party.
My favorite dancefloor is outside, on the roofed and heated, terrace. The barkeepers there are legends themselves, who used to work in the early days of Propaganda and 10 years at Krysha Mira. So is the vibe on the terrace. It’s a bit more relaxed and undergroundish. Inside, the rich and beautiful want to be seen and watch, while a slurping a glass of champagne. Maybe this is the final concept and position of Bessonniza, a rather glamouros inside main room and the friendly black underground, outside on the terrace.
Last, but not least. Especially during the Krysha Mira parties, Bessonniza is opened until 9-10 am and a good afterhour alternative, especially when Gazgolder is closed.
Artel Bessonniza Table Bookings and Reservations:
+7 985 114 9695 (Phone, WhatsApp or SMS) in English and German
or fill out the booking form.