Boots On The Ground: Kyiv Nightlife During COVID-19

Things are returning to normal in Ukraine. The lockdown has, for the most part, ended, and while there are still new cases of COVID-19 reported each day in Ukraine, the environment appears to be more or less safe at this point. Sadly, one area that hasn’t quite recovered is our coveted nights out on the town. Today, we’re bringing you a “boots on the ground” report, discussing the nightlife options that are available for those living in Kyiv at the moment.

The State of Kyiv Nightlife in 2020

2020 began like any other year in Kyiv. Debacherous New Years Eve celebrations left us excited for another year of success and prosperity in our favorite city on earth.

Sadly, by March, it was extremely clear that 2020 was going to be very different from what we were used to. A lockdown that was supposed to last a week turned into a month, which then turned into 3 of the quietest, darkest months we’ve ever experienced.

But hey, it was great for getting some work done, at least.

At the beginning of the year, local nightlife institutions CHI, Shooters, Forsage, and the Arena City area were all bustling.

Now, their future is a lot less certain.

Even if nightclubs are given clearance to open in the next two months (which we’re not hopeful towards), we wonder how many of these places are going to be closing up due to racking expenses and absolutely no one coming in whatsoever.

We’ve already seen this with more than a few of our favorite bars, which will remain unnamed out of respect and in the event that they do manage to reopen. Even though most bars in Kyiv are open at this point, a few of our favorites still haven’t seemed to have opened their doors to the public. A real shame.

One of our favorite parts about living in Ukraine as expats is the fact that Kyiv is possibly one of the most underrated cities for nightlife on the planet. Whether you’re into the most underground beats imaginable, or you like popping bottles to Top 40, you’ll find something to do here.

Below, you’ll find what we’ve been up to in Kyiv as of late.

Are nightclubs open?

In short, no.

However, it’s worth noting in Ukraine that we’re famous for, say, skirting the rules.

There’s one venue I’ve been really enjoying going to lately that is a normal bar, but they’ve instead moved all of their tables, started booking DJs, and killed the lights so that it’s a far more “clubby” atmosphere than before.

Is this legal? Probably not. But, do we really care? Definitely not.

I can’t reveal the exact name of this venue, but I’ll give you a hint in that if you’re staying close to Derybasivska Ultisa and you poke around enough, you’ll find it.

Another option, however, are terrace parties and standard bars.

Terrace Parties For The Win

One particularly exciting development that we’ve seen in Ukraine is the rise of outdoor parties as opposed to club nights.

Our prediction is that this is going to be the move even through fall. Outdoor parties are generally tougher to regulate, and far safer than being packed into a sweaty club where one person can possibly infect hundreds.

Our favorite terrace party we’ve stumbled across has been that which they’ve thrown together at CLOSER. We’ll be the first to admit that we don’t really like House or Techno music at all, but the vibe is still pretty good here.

The DJs don’t take requests either, which seriously blows. Oh well.

As such, the nightclub seems to have a third-floor pier that nobody knew about until recently, and there have been some serious parties being thrown there lately.

Check their Facebook page for the latest details, as it appears their schedule is changing by the week.

Bars

Bars in Kiev are fully functioning, but with limits on capacity, and the insistence that you must have your temperature checked upon entering. Some will require you to wear a mask, whereas others will not. Again, it’s really a matter of the venue, just like our above makeshift nightclub that’s found a way to skirt the rules entirely.

Below are our top picks for the time being.

Hangover

Hangover is open for business! Perhaps the biggest “meat market,” college-y spot in the entire city, I usually stay away from this place. But, as they say, “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and I was happy to make my return when it reopened in June. There are less students in Kiev than before, but still plenty of people make their way here each weekend.

The Bar

Usually a great spot to hit before the club, The Bar has been seeing some pretty lively crowds in the absence of larger venues to move on to. Hitting the sweet spot between pretentious and casual, we’re proud to say we’re frequent visitors here. Great for dates and booking a table with friends.

Pink Freud

I dearly, dearly missed drinking weird imitation Hawaiian beverages at this Ukrainian favorite during lockdown. Lucky for you, it’s open for business once again! As eclectic and freewheeling as ever, Pink Freud is also seeing an upsurge in late night activity with local nightclubs being closed up for the time being.

It’s not everything, but it is something…

There’s no denying that COVID-19 has changed the nightlife scene in Kyiv. No longer can we attend many of our beloved nightspots, and that’s a real shame.

However, if you’re crafty enough, you’ll find a way to make the party happen anywhere you go, and Ukraine is no exception.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Ukraine right now, stay put! As many of you already know, re-entering the country as a non-resident right now is next to impossible. Furthermore, with the potential of another global lockdown coming in the winter months, we’re not taking any chances here!

In the meantime, enjoy the lack of foreigners and creepy tourists, and stay safe out there!

-Expat Ukraine

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