The Death of a Go-Go Dancer

October 22, 2008

…and to think about it, I was into angry rap music (called “gangsta” I believe). Often albums would start by the MC crying: I am back mother*&$?ers!. As I am back writing again I guess I could use the “I am back” thing too, but I am not gonna do it.

Am I glad to be back? I dunno… Last night was a club-scene revisit. Same music, same people. Geezers with crap tatoos and birds in very tight jeans. Next year they still very well might be going through same motions, being another year older, thats all. As Nick Knox was saying: “life is boring… even drugs are boring”.

Right Nick! On the positive side, I am not at this stage of boredom just yet, I still have great respect for drugs. Still, I am no dope-fiend and I don’t want to become one either, dope-fiends with the drugs being the focal point of their lives are boring too. To avoid this situation, one must depart from the scene and keep to himself for a while. All dope-fiends start out as weekend junkies and I honestly don’t know anybody who would have stayed on the scene and would not cross that fine line between flirtation and addiction.
It is easy to spot a person going through initial stages: when they are not stocked-up themselves, they are frantically cruising nightclubs looking for anybody they know who might be holding. Wah-wah, I can hear them saying, what do YOU propose? Yoga? Sanskrit? Calling your mum more often? I don’t know. May be I am writing this to avoid the sliding, d’you know what I mean? Never mind.
If the club scene did not change during the year, streets of this town suffer significant changes all the time. This season its the far end of Nevski, known as Staronevski, that gets a makeover treatment. One late night, as I was getting a lift home from a mate, I saw a dancing girl in a revealing outfit in the middle of a junction. I figure, she was an employee of a local lap-dancing joint. Traditionally, on any given night, if the place wasn’t jumping, the girls would come out onto the pavement to grab prospective clients. With the pavements all dug up, I guess now they forced to move onto the road.
It would make an excellent headline if one of them was actually hit by a vehicle. In my mind I can see a mouth-watering picture: the collision throws the slender body of a girl in the air and she lands with a thud, arms and legs at different angles, puddle of blood under her head, one of the high-heeled shoes still on, the other flown off her foot…
Her sparkling bra reflects the street light. She is still alive, breathing, but unconscious. It will be hit-and-run, she will be lying there for a while, neglected, automobiles making carefully around her, not stopping. Finally somebody from the club would see her, raise the alarm and call the ambulance and police. Nobody would admit to seeing anything. No witnesses, only the victim. Perfect. It will be said that she was an out of town girl, a student who earned an extra income in the industry of entertainment.
Of course, lap dancers are not strippers same as strippers are not prostitutes. Is being a prostitute classed as working in entertainment too? The area around my house used to have lots of working girls. They cut grotesque figures. Massive heels made them very tall. Too much make up made their hard faces even more intimidating.
May be, once upon a time, when they were younger, they were lap-dancers too, but the revolving door of life threw them onto the street. Gotta be some fine line here too, like one day its sparkling bras and nose full of free coke and then boom! its walking between the raindrops giving local coppers freebies so they wont bust your ass.
Now, is there a moral to this runt? Yes, there is actually. In life we all occupy different steps of social ladder. Climbing it is hard labour, but nothing is done easier then sliding a step or two down. However, do not hurry and judge people, for any slide might have been initiated by a push.

Filed under: St. Petersburg — Everyday Life
Tags: , , , , , , , , — sasha @ 4:03 pm

Never Talk To Strangers

August 1, 2008

Russian underground network known as the Metro is cheap, reliable and gets you places fast - a bit like Tesco’s own brand lager. It is also crowded, full of the most terrible smells and has the worst light possible - people look hundreds of years old. Soviet engineers were striving to create the most comfortable conditions for passengers and failed miserably, while self-indulgent architects responsible for the Metro luxury interior succeeded and many stations represent significant landmarks.

I know somebody who works for the London underground. He is a keen photographer too. When in St. Petersburg he was well impressed with the Metro. His natural instinct was to draw his camera and take few quick snaps of the inside. A man dressed in a dark uniform came to his side and gently tugged on his sleeve. They talked. At the time I was there trapped in a two-dimensional continuum of the world of used stationery, unable to talk and invisible but able to see and hear everything. The man in a dark uniform said: “You does not have rite to photography. It is illegal. You go to prison!” “Tell ‘im to #&£$-off!” I shouted but to no avail. You see, once they get you talking to them, they may produce all sorts of papers saying it is against the legislation to do whatever you were doing and jail is awaiting you unless you pay a reasonable fine. Which is likely to be all the cash you got on you. The trick is to stay ignorant, not to respond and walk away. But do it with style. It helps if you are physically stronger than your opponent.

Some factual things about the Metro in St. Petersburg:
Its alive between 5.30 in a morning and 12.30 a.m.
It has four lines. They run from the outskirts through the centre. There they all intersect at one of the main stations.
The means of paying are either tokens (good for one journey) or magnetic cards (valid for ten or more journeys). Both purchasable at the station. Once you have paid your fare you may stay on the Metro as long as you need or want. Once you get off, you need to pay again - a bit like in New York.

All signs are in Russian, so are all announcements. To navigate efficiently within the metro get yourself one of network maps displaying the Cyrillic and transliterated names to hand.
Some stations have open platforms and some have concourses with safety doors. These open when the train comes to the platform.
As the train approaches a stop, the name of the station, changes for another line (if any) and the name of the next station will be announced. However, if you don’t speak the language you’re not likely to catch on, its best to keep count of the stops or check against the wall map inside your train car.
Please note, there is an attendant in a form of stern “babushka” sitting in a booth at the bottom of each escalator. You better be on your best behavior mate, or she will yell at you!

That be it for now. Remember to stand clear of the doors.

Filed under: Russia - everyday life, St. Petersburg — Everyday Life
Tags: , , , , , , , — sasha @ 4:54 pm