Vladivostok Nights

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Vladivostok - Golden Horn Bay

Don and Lari head back to their room and Natie and I to her apartment. When I emerge from my shower, she doesn’t look so well.
“I’m not feeling 100%. I’ve been sick last week and I’m still recovering. I might stay home instead”.
“But we need you to enjoy the night properly! It won’t be the same without the Venus of Vladivostok!”, I implore.
She smiles and replies,
“I’ll have a shower and think about that”.
While I’m pottering around deciding what shirt to wear, she appears holding a Russian army hat.
“I heard of your crazy hat collection and I want to present you with this real Russian Army hat to add to it.”
I’m overjoyed and accept gratefully.
“I really wanted to find one of these, but to have you give it to me is particularly perfect. I know where I’ll keep it in my collection already”.
It still adorns the top of my huge hatstand at home.
“Try it on!” I suggest playfully.
I’m not at all prepared for the onslaught of hormones this causes. Natie’s amber-brown eyes peering out from under the black peaked rim are irresistable.
“You look seriously beautiful. Uniforms don’t normally do much for me. But you. In that hat.”
I really am lost for words and I try to find some quickly as she isn’t talking either.
“Will you get away with wearing it in a nightclub?”
She looks confused and thoughtful then decides they probably wouldn’t accept it. They take the military a lot more seriously here than in Australia I think.
“Oh I have a great shirt I bought in Vietnam that will be perfect instead”, she says and bustles off to get changed.
“We should probably get a taxi to make it in time to meet Don and Lari”, I suggest.
She calls one for us and then says,
“There will be another girl coming as well”.
So in the space of one hour we’ve leaped from zero to two beautiful Russian women showing us around Vladivostok. This should be good fun, I think, as a particularly vast smile takes over my face.

 

I expect that we will meet her friend in town and ask if we will pick her up somewhere. Natie smiles and says,
“Oh no, she’s a bit younger than me, but still old enough to come out with us.”
With that, she walks out of her bedroom and returns with a beautiful blonde girl sporting a cheeky smile.
“This is Olya”, she explains, enjoying my surprise.
I shake her hand and say hello in a confused way. It baffles me that I have just spent the last two or so hours in this three room apartment and completely failed to find any sign of Olya’s presence. Apparently she’s the daughter of an old and good university friend of Natie’s mother.
“She learned English for ten years, like everyone else here, but she doesn’t really speak it – also like everyone else here. She will understand you and once she stops being shy, she will be able to talk as well.”
Olya smiles and agrees with this summary. I find she can indeed understand me if I speak at a calm, even pace. On the way into the city I discover she’s only just moved into Vladivostok to start university after finishing school. She’s met Natie quite a few times before and is mostly happy to be living in the city now. We arrive at the club’s entrance to find Don and Lari across the road eating some doner kebabs that they acquired from the pavement shops. Introductions completed, we throw ourselves into the world of the Vladivostok nightclub they call ‘Dance House’.

It’s a relatively small place, with room for maybe one to two hundred people on two floors and sharing one main dance floor on the ground in the centre of the club. The music is a solid style of techno popular in the UK around eight years ago at the turn of the millenia. It provides the rises in intensity and speed required to properly engage in a little extra-chemicular activity. Don and I acquire some vodka shots with orange juice chasers and we chat with our two new Russian friends. In the middle of the dancefloor are two large, square columns holding up the roof, that are each covered in full length mirrors. Arranged around them are dancers watching themselves in the mirrors as they groove along with the music. A little narcissism certainly, but it does seem to make their style a lot more interesting to watch.
“Is the mirror trick a Vladivostok standard?” Don asks, enjoying the idea.
“It’s in a few places around town”, Natie says happily.
We start talking about our craziest fun dance moves and in no time we’re taking turns to lay down some particularly silly moves of our own.

Natie shows us a whole series of moves based around the process of planting, raising and harvesting a Russian potato like plant. She proves to be a truly inspirational performance artist, so I’m forced to show her the funky Macbeth; whereby you stir a cauldron in both directions with a huge spoon using both hands and your hips. This leads inevitably to the shopping trolley, motorbike, sprinkler and the window climb. In this you mime opening a window and climbing through it criminally to move around the dancefloor. Then we have to lay down the ‘big fish, little fish, box it’ that Melbourne people love so much. I have no idea how long this madness continues with everyone inventing new moves as inspiration strikes, but eventually the music takes over again. I think this is the best DJ set we heard across Russia.

This can only mean one thing. More vodka! Don and I share a few more shots, offering them to everyone with us. He then tries to find another local Couchsurfer who was meant to meet us outside. I alternate between the dancefloor and chatting as the music becomes more or less interesting. Then, after a long absence, Don suddenly reappears looking a little intense. He couldn’t find anyone, but had received a message that the person in question was inside the club and out of mobile range. So now we’re all keeping an eye out for ‘someone who looks like a Couchsurfer’. We laugh at the idea and keep an eye out as we take turns trying to look the most like a Couchsurfer.

It’s past one in the morning when some fairly drunk girl wearing vicious high heels spears Natie’s foot whilst staggering backwards. Natie shoves her roughly aside in a sudden fury which the drunken girl hardly seems to notice. We agree it must be time to leave and follow Natie outside as blood wells from between her two little toes and stains the dancefloor. I’m sure there’s a song in that somewhere. She calls two taxis for all of us and we wait outside for them to arrive. We three Australians conference during the wait and decide that our first day in Vladivostok has been enormous and very diverse and that Natie is an utter angel. I check her foot when we get home; it’s only a cut with mild bruising. I think the point of the stiletto must have bounced over most of Natie’s toe and I’m happy there’s no deeper damage. I offer her some antiseptic I still have left after my blistering joy and she says she already has a powder for it. After I have a quick shower, she’s already in bed.
“The party I was arranging while you’re in town is going to be delayed until Wednesday night, since some local couchsurfers are out of town and some more travellers are coming through”.
“That sounds perfect, it will be Lari’s and my last night in Vladivostok!”
I curl up on the mattress at the foot of her bed and drift of feeling grateful after such an amazing introduction to the Lord of the East.

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