Inside Kiev’s Post-Revolution Wave of Underground Techno Raves

Heading east from Berlin, last summer I undertook a pilgrimage to Eastern Europe’s newly christened Techno Mecca. Deep amongst Kiev’s concrete forest of Soviet brutalism, a raw homegrown rave scene is putting down roots, thriving in a city that’s witnessed two separate revolutions in under ten years.

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Flying out #Ukraine

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For the countless Kievan youth born in the post-Soviet 90’s, the thundering techno can offer a weekend of absolution and escapism, insulating them from the crisis and conflict that’s ripped Europe’s largest country apart since the recent 2014 revolution. My last few days in the sprawling Ukrainian capital fell over a weekend and it rapidly became a rush to take advantage of the collapsed currency and a weekend full of raves before my uni term began.

A 15 minute, £1 uber ride away from central Maidan Square there’s an abandoned checkpoint in the Tatarka hills, barring entry to a small crumbling industrial complex in the midst of a wooded dell. Head through the checkpoint and into the factories you sense the vibrations of a serious sound system, deep in the belly of one of the surrounding delipidated buildings.

Here you’ll find the home of underground Techno club and centre of contemporary culture Closer, but also up in the loft –  Mezzanine. At the top of the graffiti scrawled staircase, its decaying post-industrial location fuses with a subdued, wooden barn reminiscent aesthetic, complemented by the strictly minimal selection of sounds. It’s the place to level out, have a few drinks and get your head right before heading downstairs.

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In contrast Closer is known for its raves that stretch from midnight Friday into hazy Monday afternoons. There’s plenty to explore; from the memorizing lights and natives competing to be Neukölln’s next top model in the main space, to the deep lit chill rooms and outside the sprawling, multilevel wooden veranda set amongst the Tatarka hills. At one point, in true Kievan style, a climb on to the spine of the crumbling factory’s sheet metal roof became a legit spot to take in the morning air.

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Permanently settling in 2014 following nomadic roots,  Closer has survived recent court battles with the local authorities, continuing to operate and thrive under the ethos of “bringing people closer with music”.  After ending up there a few times, you observe that the place really starts to create a distinct vibe and come into its own about 5/6 in the morning . It’s no surprise that the Friday to Monday, any hour techno produces its own resonating gravitational pull, attracting those that consider no sleep and endless after parties a perfectly reasonable weekend pursuit. Sleeping is cheating.

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morning love

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“During the revolution of 2013-14 all our nightlife stopped, and I realised I miss good parties,” says DJ,  promoter and Cxema founder Slava Lepsheev. “I also saw that this whole new amazing generation emerged, and they have nowhere to go.”

Since Cxema (pronounced Skhema) emerged in 2014, it rapidly gained a reputation beyond Kiev. Translating as scheme or gamble, the night is the result of communication and collaboration amongst a range of creative young Kievans, including architects, designers, artists and art critics.

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#cxema #latespaces

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These various cultural mediums are linked together under guiding mutual preferences for: “spacious dance floors, best local musicians and DJs, quality sound”,  rather than commercial profitability. This allows Cxema to retain its raw and authentic vibe, even after featuring in the likes of VICE and it’s fashion and music subsidiaries i-D + THUMP, it’s non-commercial approach and focus on providing a unique space of fresh freedoms mean Cxema is still an underground night.

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For Kievan locals born in the 90’s growing up to the sounds of techno, there’s a soaring demand for massive events amongst this Post-Soviet generation, with Cxema carving its own niche in the vacuous nightlife void that’s stalked Kiev following the revolution.

There’s no shortage of locations in post-industrial Kiev vying to host raves capable of meeting this demand. Cxema is held roughly every 6 weeks, keeping it fresh by switching to whatever semi-legit location’s available, bouncing from office blocks, to garages, factories and old cinemas. This is necessary to avoid being shut down, with Closer recently under threat of closure following a series of police raids. Due considerably to the high levels of moral panic raves generate amongst the staunchly conservative elements of Ukrainian society.

Saturday night I donned my €1 Adidas jacket and headed over to the skeletal arch of the Podilskyi Metro Bridge,  construction began the same year I was born and it remains incomplete. This has to be the most dramatic of Cxema’s locations, a grimy, graffiti scrawled skatepark wedged deep under a motorway overpass. Once over the half pipe, the cavernous space becomes a kaleidoscopic whirl of wavey 90’s sportswear, an ocean that continues rhythmically heaving long after the suns risen and torched the serene waters of the oozing Dneiper outside.

Late in the morning when the Cxema crowds begin to disperse, many casually dismiss sleep and instead another after party at Closer entices those with the stamina to see Sunday through. Bearing in mind a Monday afternoon flight, I beat a lunchtime retreat from the Techno, seeking to regain some basic motor skills before my Sunday night motive – Keller Bar. Not far from Closer, it’s a tight, moody locale, with a capacity that can’t reach more than 150 people.

Arriving in such an out-of-the-way, intimate space as a bunch of gringo tourist on a Sunday night, you get the vibe you’ve crashed a private party. Later after a few conversations opened by Cxema chat and where to find other raves in Kiev, what I had first put down as cold stares turned out to be stern stoic facial experssions masking severe sleep deprivation, many had been on the sesh since Friday … but Sunday exposed the true techno zombies.

The perfect place to level out after a long weekend, the night was still gaining momentum when suddenly the music shutdown around 2 and everyone piled onto the terrace outside. I was left lost when fireworks started to illuminate the nights sky above me, till it was explained that it was a special night, someones birthday. Despite uni term and lectures looming just over the horizon, when the sound system roared back into life I half deluded myself into believing I could commit till close without severe repercussions for the London flight.

In the end I was rewarded, having left before dawn I still had time for one last gourmet meal, gorging on Georgian food and wine before contemplating my frayed nerves on that final flight home.

Wrocław: Poland’s Hipster Heartland

The largest city in Western Poland, 2016’s European Capital of Culture Wrocław (VRAHTS-wahv) is a struggle to pronounce without sounding like a Polski toddler slurring their first syllables and has recently been labelled the”heartland of Poland’s hipster revolution“.

Whilst this may sound like a dubious accolade, immediately conjuring images of middle-class suburbanites trying to recreate the American dream out of an ex-council flat in Hounslow … in the context of provincial Poland you get a city center flowing with a fresh and eclectic range of independent businesses.

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Wrocław’s diverse cultural history is reflected in the Old Town’s architectural composition, with the visible legacies of the communist-era towering alongside the restored pre-war gabled Germanic buildings. In this iconic district it’s a struggle to walk down the street without being drawn in like a degenerate, salivating moth by the allure of some seriously peng fusion food or locally brewed beer.

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Prewar restored

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Provincial Poland in January isn’t exactly a trip to the Bahamas and the cold really clamps down as soon as the sun sets, here’s my selection of where to keep warm after dark on a winter weekend.

Przedwojenna Bistro

Spread over three nostalgia strewn floors, less than 100m from the main square and open 24/7, Przedwojenna’s vibe sways somewhere between an inter-war continental bistro and a BYOB student restaurant. Beer and Soplica shots a morally corrupting 4zl and it’s an extravagant 8zl for dense plates of local food, visual depictions of the menu and prices painted on the walls framing the bar. With such humblingly hospitable prices, by early evening it’s crammed with a crowd mainly composed of local Polski’s, alongside a handful of deviant Erasmus students and gringo tourists


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Focusing on craft beer and mexican fusion food, it was a good day when I realised this place was a couple of minutes walk from where I was staying. There’s always a range of at least 16 craft beers available on tap, both local brews and international. Despite the spacious interior, any chance of finding a seat after dark on the weekend is laughable, as it appears the good citizens of Wrocław like nothing more than to drown themselves in craft beer, with a chicken and pomegranate taco thrust into each hand.
A thoroughly agreeable city.

Das Lokal

Over the river from the Old Town, this seriously sexy little basement club has some innovative lighting that’ll happily hold you hostage long past the dawn chorus breaks in the disconnect street outside. You get the feel the place was formed for Techno, but there’s the odd DnB night as well. With opaque event names like K-Hole Trax’s there’s no suppression of intentions, though most people are kicking it on the 8 zl pints than anything synthesised.

It’s got a good vibe and there’s an interestingly eclectic mob fracturing and weaving round the different spaces. Das Lokal’s homegrown resident’s have a solid reputation and can regularly be found in Berlin, the club is also frequently host to international names, night’s to look out for include SLAP and the aforementioned K-Hole Trax’s.


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Current study spot #neverendingstory

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Chilled and steady music keeping apace to the bars aesthetic means Karavan is a great spot to enjoy some slow drinks, before exploring some of the city’s late night offerings. There’s further visual stimulation projected onto a far wall for those settling in and a healthily ranged menu to fill any gaps in your appetite. With its slower vibe Karavan is favoured by an older crowd, you don’t expect trays of shots to fly round or spontaneous table top dancing.

AleBrowar Wrocław

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Polecam serdecznie 😁

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Next door to Karavan, Alebrowar is a Polish craft beer chain pub and you can find one in major cities. I rate their Wrocław branch, you can’t go wrong with a decent selection of beer and the presentation of their taps is what ties the place together, forming the focal point behind the bar. There’s plenty of spots to cotch, with sofas and armchairs throughout the place. Again like Karavan the punters are a bit older, with the atmosphere imbued with their sensibilities.

Doctor’s Bar

Big shout for the complimentary drink Doctor’s Bar ! I’d just slogged it up the church tower of St Elizabeth’s next door and was in dire need of refreshment, when after settling in here I was offered the opportunity to sample their drinks menu as they had opened the bar for its first day 10 minutes before. Just off the main square in the Old Town, it’s got a fresh, spacious aesthetic and when I headed back later on the Friday night it was rammed … though that’s to be expected on an opening night. Best of luck to Wrocław‘s newest bar !

Here’s a sample of some of the sounds you’ll find in Wrocław over a winter weekend

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Wroclaw in the afternoon

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Making The Most of those Juicy January Flights

Officially the most depressing time of year, those in a flexible situation have the option to travel all over Europe for a fraction of the price you’d find yourself subjected to for the rest of the year. With all airlines dropping their prices to fill seats, you can find some incredible last-minute deals.

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Escaping the bitter English January

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In January 2016 I was based out of London and with a £100 flight budget I had the opportunity to spend my Friday night in Athenian Techno basement club Senza , the next night Techno again till midday Sunday in Berlin’s Chalet and be in Madrid for the Spanish capital’s student night Fucking Monday the day after … overall that was 3 key European capitals, 4 flights and over 4,500 miles in less than a week. If I’d gone for a similar style of multi-city trip any other time of the year there’s no doubt flight expenses would have at least doubled.

London is definitely the best city to find some juicy last-minute departures, but you’d be surprised which other cities have regular flight connections whose prices are slashed for the January off-season. To make the most of these flight deals have a trawl through flight search engine sites like Momondo and Sky-Scanner. With the ability to search all departures from a city, you can link up a multi-city itinerary based off the best deals and keep it tailored to your own taste in destination and budget. Also when using these sites keep a check on the cookie situation … sometimes the live pricing can cause a surge and drive up prices horrendously.

All over Europe the affordable January prices extend beyond airfares and you can find enticing accommodation deals that fit any budget. Visiting a city out of season can also provide you with a whole new perspective on the city and its nightlife. For example in Athens the locals that work out on the islands during the summer all return home for the winter, so clubs and bars that are full of tourists during the long summer months are filled with hedonistic young Athenians in the depth of winter.

The more environmentally conscious can keep tabs on their carbon footprint by reducing their air miles and go for the straight up single destination city-break. Those hectic major European destinations that are rammed the rest of the year regain their charm in the off-season, creating a fresh and authentic experience. Overall flights for under a tenner can’t be beaten and whilst Luxembourg might not be the home of the sesh, you’d still consider flying there for 7 quid. Imagine going somewhere decent for that price.

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Juicy January flight deals out of London

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Happy New Year people, best of luck in everything you set out to accomplish in 2018 !

5 of the best NYD nightlife destinations across Europe

With New Year’s Eve nights sold out across the continent, last-minute travellers taking advantage of some juicy flight deals still have the option to indulge in some fresh hedonism on the 1/01. Here’s my pick of five NYD nightlife destinations that standout across Europe.


One of the top 20 clubs in the world according to a recent DJ mag poll,  In:Motion’s NYD line-up for the South Bristol indoor skatepark is an eclectic mix and appears endless.  Amongst the 33 artists featured, the names of Berghain/Panorama Bar residents Ben Klock and Steffi alongside artists such as Tale Of Us, Jackmaster, KiNK, Nastia and Jeremy Underground should be enough to get the adrenal gland of any electronic music aficionado pre-emptively quivering.

MadridWan Festival

Following its successful launch last year, the 01/01 in the Spanish capital see’s another installment of the electronic music festival Wan. Held inside the colossal 10,000 capacity  La Cubiteria bullring, the Tech House orientated line up includes Ibiza stalwarts Martinez Brothers, Luciano, Marco Carola and Richie Hawtin and continues long past sun-rise.


2017 marks two decades since the establishment of Dutch techno events brand Awakenings, with the first event of the year a NYD special at their regular Amsterdam haunt, Gashouder. With its huge capacity and innovative lighting, the former gas storage plant is the perfect space for a line up that includes big names like Nina Kraviz and Berghain residents Ben Klock (again??) and Len Faki.

BerlinBerghain/ Panorama bar

With affiliated DJ’s all over this list, the recently designated high culture institution is a logical feature. Regarded by many as the apex of global nightlife, the Berghain’s Silversternacht celebrations run throughout NYD and into the 2nd. The conditional entry policy pursued here means you can still get a ticket upon entry after presale have evaporated. You’re potentially free to enjoy a NYD line up that includes Techno premiers such as Ben Klock (busy man), DVS1 and Efdemin.

BelgradeHangar, Luka Beograd

NYD in the Serbian capital see’s the third night of Central Dance Event a four night series of events, held in various venues throughout Belgrade, running from the 30/12 through till the morning of 03/01. Hangar Luka Beograd, a former warehouse in a docklands area by the Danube, is host for the third night with a Techno focused line-up that includes international names like Magda and Pig & Dan alongside local homegrown Serbian artists.

Good luck to you all in 2017 !

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Exploring contempoary Kiev: Part -ONE –

Recent political events in Kiev are testimony to the freedom and self-determination Ukraine’s substantial younger generation want their nation’s sovereignty to symbolise. Within the last few years the city has witnessed a revolution, abruptly followed by a severe recession and the collapse of the nation’s currency.  Whilst visiting the sprawling Ukrainian capital, you are conscious of a prevailing innovative and creative energy, forged by recent events. This dynamic resilience and drive of individuals pursuing their potential gives contemporary Kiev its raw and authentic atmosphere. This continues to draw in many curious travellers, despite the harrowing conflict in the country’s eastern Donbass region.

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Kiev’s nightlife provides you with an oppurtunity to become more than just a passive onlooker and to freely integrate yourself in the city’s undercurrent. Proudly calling one of Europe’s largest cities home, Kiev’s younger generation have been galvanised by recent events and in the last couple of years the nightlife has distinctively transformed. From all night long raves heaving under broken bridges, to chic shisha bars evacuated out of war-torn Donetsk in the back of a truck, to a Kievan basement.Here’s the first part of my pick of where to explore contemporary Kiev’s iconic undercurrent.

Bar Spletni // Сплетни

A few years ago Spletni was a popular new Shisha bar start-up in Donetsk, but following the outbreak of civil war and the intensification of conflict in the region, the bar was forced to close down. Like many other former Donetsk residents, the owner left his war-torn native city for the capital. Embodying the resilience and innovation that defines much of Ukraine’s younger generation,the young owner sensed an oppurtunity. Speltni was ambitiously dragged back to life,by loading lock,stock and barrel into the back of a truck and relocating, to a similar underground space in Kiev.

Now centrally located across the road from the magnificent Taras Shevchenko University, Spletni employs many former Donetsk residents, whilst others nostalgic for home find spots to relax here. The vaulted underground setting and the smoke rising from the various flavoured shisha embers, interact to create a perfumed and almost sweet cloudy atmosphere. Spaces are allocated for comfortably chilling and enjoying some shisha and drinks, ideal when you want to recuperate after a hectic day or a long night. You even see the owner park himself in a comfy chair in the late evening, perch his mac on his lap and starting to blast away on some shisha too.


Rapidly gaining an international reputation, back in the spring of 2016 this music and arts space emerged from a landmark court battle with a local prosecutor victorious, permanently cementing their position amongst the apex of Kiev’s contemporary nightlife. Consequently the venue is host to many major homegrown and international names. Found in a former Soviet industrial complex, Closer occupies a floor of a former textile factory and some of the forest that has colonised the decaying site. Alongside its role as a club, the same space is home to lectures, regular jazz evenings, workshops, film screenings, plus fashion and contemporary art exhibitions.

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Podol.Tango.Goodbye.) Will miss you

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Above the central interior space are the clubs iconic and hypnotic, horizontal lights. Imbuing the dance floor with energy, there’s no shortage of people enthusiastically dancing through the night and next day There’s plenty of cotch spots set up in adjoining spaces, with an abundance of sofas. Outside a sublime multi-level wooden terrace, climbing the factory walls to the roof, is reminiscent of Berlin’s Spree side Der Visionaere, whilst the adjoining trails heading into the forest provide further spaces to explore. With a reputation locally that it starts picking up when the dawn starts breaking, most nights stretch into the next afternoon. Weekend long re-entry is a wise investment. Complimenting the clubs memorizing aesthetics and intrepid layout, you’re predominately surrounded by  young Kievan’s exploring expressions of individualism and independence that clubs like Closer ambitiously channel, creating a distinct and authentic vibe.

The first club I went to in Kiev, Closer set a high standard.

Rockfellow 210

Opening late this year and a couple of minutes walk from Maidan Square, is a space to recuperate with friends after a big night or base yourself in the early evening after exploring central Kiev. Inside and upstairs, a series of immersive rooms are the central feature of Rockfellow 210. Equipped with massive screens, sound systems and relaxed lounging spaces, you can also order food and drinks by knocking a massive red button by the door. These rooms vary in size, accommodating roughly 5 to 20 people, they’re rentable in 3 hour slots and are the perfect space to cotch and conserve your energy before heading out later.

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Наш зал "P" теперь Ваш 😉 Большой диван, который превращается в большой кинотеатр, где может удобно разместится 4 пары или 8 друзей, или одна пара и 2 бутылочки шампанского :)) Коротко: – это антикинотеатр на Михайловском переулке 10/2; – это самый уютный зал; – это трансляции, кино и не только; – это официант в твоем распоряжении. Бронируй свой зал заранее – тел. 099-2-210-210 пы.сы. ищи в сети фото и ИНФО о других залах 😉 #RF210 #rockfellow210 #пультМОЙ

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Beyond the immersive rooms and heading downstairs, the spacious basement bar and kitchen has a warm, welcoming aesthetic . Outside a serene terrace wraps itself  around the square building. Its got a relaxed and settled vibe, with tables retaining the same occupants long into the night. The terrace has been kitted out for the winter weather and there’s regularly someone mixing, with a chilled ambience the aim of the evening. Rockfellow 210’s anti-theater concept, allowing you to enjoy sports events and cinematic releases in a relaxed space with friends, is popular locally. On big match days evenings and weekends it can be struggle to secure a room.

 Hendrick’s bar

A cocktail bar with flawless attention to detail, Hendrick’s bar is  stashed away beneath the endlessly excellent establishment, that is True Burger. Head into True Burger, go past the toilets in the back and down some stairs, then give the buzzer a ring and wait for the staff to welcome you in. It’s a great location for peacefully getting in the mood for bigger things later on in the night with some friends or for having a few to wash down your delectable burger from upstairs.

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Great place, great people, great times!

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The bar’s menu has a wide range of particularly potent concoctions and despite Hendrick’s Prohibition era inspired aesthetic, many are served in heavy clay ceramic Tiki mugs, which I thoroughly endorse. It’s a well-known place locally and it can be hard to find a place to squeeze into on the weekends. With the seclusion the bars location provides, the people here are affable and you’d be hard pressed not be engaged in conversation soon after arrival.The musical selection here isn’t garish like you can find in similar cocktail bars, causally imbuing the surroundings with a relaxed atmosphere

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Fog cutter #licensetocreep

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Part TWO deviates from the clean-cut and chilled spaces explored here and heads down a path in search of a rawer aesthetic

For a taste of the sounds of contemporary Kiev check out LateSpace’s soundcloud

“The city of Kiev is an orchard. Kiev is a poet. Kiev is an epic. Kiev is history. Kiev is art.” – Alexander Dovzhenko

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morning love

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Late Spaces: Vilnius after dark

Without the tourist numbers of the other Baltic capitals, Vilnius locals have been provided with the breathing space to form their own nightlife, defined by its homegrown aesthetic and sound.

There are many facets that fit together to form a city’s nightlife and Vilnius is no exception. From transformed Soviet industrial spaces, Minimal Mondays, disused train station platforms, workers palaces, Funktion-One Sound systems and a lot of ambient lighting – here’s my pick of where to head out in Vilnius after dark.


Anyone arriving in Vilnius by train can’t help but notice the giant statue of Tony Soprano in his dressing gown, surveying the tracks from a far side of the station. On the same platform you’ll find Peronas. Occupying an old station building, its terrace spills out over the former platform, providing a spot to chill and observe the pulse of the station.

Whilst the interior has a rough warm, spacious aesthetic to it, this changes when they host a night, with the floor-space filling up. On the weekend its got the perfect location for settling in and having a few, before heading to Kablys round the corner.


Kablys is an imposing Soviet architectural relic that’s been repurposed as an indoor skatepark, hostel, restaurant/cafe and club amongst other things. This former workers palace, turned multi-purpose cultural space, is named after the massive hook that adorns the neoclassical facade.

The interior is a blend of contemporary minimalist features and faded Soviet neoclassical extravagance . It’s host to a variety of different nights – ranging from all night full on techno or DnB raves, to concert style events. The interior space is used in different ways depending on what’s demanded, so there’s a fresh set-up for big nights.


If your heads suffering from the night before or you’re just in the mood to properly relax with friends, Bukowksi‘s got you covered. Its tight courtyard is perfect for summer evenings and in the warmer months there’s a constant vibrant vibe late throughout the week.

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Heading inside there’s a warm, laid back atmosphere, with spacious seating. It’s one of the most popular pubs outside of the Old Town and has a solid reputation locally. There’s a mix of local and premium international beers on tap, plus a gourmet hot-dog menu if you’re after some munch.


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#opiumvilnius #nightlife

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Found on Islandijos street in the Old Town, Opium holds the best house and techno nights in town. You enter through a popular Asian fusion restaurant  – Briusly – then head on upstairs where it’s fitted with a Funktion-One Sound system and some seriously sexy lighting.

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dabar | opium | Maichael Mayer #jagerblowout

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There’s a strong representation of local artists and labels, mixed in with major international names. Nights to look out for include Smala, the Jagerblowouts and Silence Nights. They shut up shop for the mid-summer months, so make the most of the weekends they’re open.

Minimal Mondays

Nestled in a vine-covered courtyard in the midst of the Old Town, Vasaros Terasa plays host to Minimal Mondays. This is a weekly night that runs through the summer months, offering minimal house and techno that perfectly suits this relaxed summer space.

It’s a popular night and despite the unconvential courtyard’s size, finding seating is competitive. Meanwhile the corner space in front of the speakers is usually rammed with people till the early summer sun signals close. Minimal Mondays migrates to Kablys when the seasons closed, though not on weekly intervals. Vasaros Terasa holds many different nights throughout the week and it’s always worth taking a look at whats on, especially as its packed up once the summers over.


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Around the corner from Vasaros Terasa you’ll find Distilerija, a great contemporary cocktail bar.The inteior aesthetic is provided by flawless furnishings, whilst the drinks selection is inspirational. It’s the perfect setting for some after dinner drinks or settling in at the start of a night . With its central location its busy throughout the week and you’ll find a fair amount of fellow foreigners here, drawn in by the huge back-lit bar.


Meanwhile, hidden away down an old town side street, Misterija is the late place you can rely any day of the week. As a shots bar, their speciality is providing you with obscene trays of shots, bombs and hand grenade variations at equally obscene times in the mornings. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious have a crack at the 80% Stroh.


Loftas is an old Soviet industrial area that’s been transformed into a performance space. It’s a vast complex and is made up of surrounding lanes, offices, warehouses and basements. It plays host to a variety of different events, with the spaces utilised in different ways depending on the night. The main performance space is a renovated warehouse, used for concerts and raves where you’ll major international names performing.

If you’re after a taste of the music you’ll find in Vilnius – have a look at the Lates Spaces soundcloud.