Dynomite Russia

I just fixed my next trip to Russia in July 2018. Before I’m writing about my forthcoming tour, I have to tell you about my first journey in 2014. Chakster, a DJ and Promoter from St. P. invited me to join the decks for a weekend. Well, I never made it across the borders of Europe so I was quite nervous. However, I was brave enough to agree on his invitation and never regret it! The trip was not that easy as I thought I would, I tell you.

 

It all started with my Passport. Not the first thing that came in my mind when I planned the trip, luckily Chak asked me for it to send me an official invitation to Russia. A what? Russia had a lot of bad press recently, though I was shocked as Chak told me that I need a visa and to get that, an official invitation from someone in Russia. Ok, Chak told me about everything, obviously I was not the first innocent guy from Germany who needed some help with bureaucracy – red tape! Let’s get back to my passport though – I did not have one! So, my first road of this trip brought me to a photo studio to take some passport photographs and the citizen center of Karlsruhe where I lived at the time to apply for my first passport. After 8 weeks I was lucky enough to pick it up right in time to apply for my visa. All in all, it was much easier as I thought in the first place, thanks to the world wide web all the service is offered by various agencies. I was just a bit afraid to send my fresh passport to some Russian guys in Frankfurt, so it took me a half day trip to Frankfurt to get my visa in the passport personally. Chak managed the planes and was kind enough to offer me his crip to stay for the weekend. There was nothing more to do than looking forward to the journey. Maybe it was the budget though I did not get direct flies from Frankfurt to St. Petersburg. Nothing serious though, one hour detention at the transfer airport Charles de Gaul, Paris – No time for a trip downtown but quite enough to change the gates at the airport. The next morning, I got up early - Absolutely no way to miss the plane again so I was at the gate early. We took off just in time and the flight was comfortable. The arrival at Pulkovo Airport, St. Petersburg, in the afternoon was in schedule too. I was in a hurry, Chak promised to pick me up at the Airport so I was sure that he was already standing in front of the Airport. In the baggage claiming area, each baggage after another has been picked up from the carousel by its owner - except mine! After half an hour I was the last man standing in the area. Chak was already texting that he is waiting. I was waiting too so I had to ask him for patience again. While starring at the empty conveyor band the words of the French service guy came back into my mind: “Oui, Monsieur, sure” – Qui,… bullshit! My apprehension from the day before came true: my baggage did not make it on board of the plane.

 

So, there was no other way than claiming the loss of my trolley case and telling Chak that I’m late again. He reacted calmly as usual. When I was looking for the service point to complain I realized that keeping the records with me was one of my best decisions for the last 48 hours. I was wearing the same cloth since I left the house in Karlsruhe, I don’t have a gift for my host, no toothbrush, though at least I got some records to play. Fancy that, I was in St. Petersburg whilst my records travelling around the world. I was sure that there would be no way to explain that to Chak and the crowd! All in all, it took me another hour to claim the loss at the service point. On my way to the exit I was not that sure anymore that Chak still is waiting for me. Fortunately, he was! He and his friend, Ivan welcomed me hearty. It was 6 pm and cold outside so we jumped in the car and hit the road to Chak’s crip, downtown St. Petersburg. Pulkovo Airport is far out of town so it took about half an hour to reach the center. I was very thankful that Ivan the driver was giving me an extra ride thru the city. After my late arrival, there was no time left for sightseeing. It was dark already so I enjoyed the lights of the beautiful city while Ivan was driving to the must-have-seen hotspots within only 15 minutes. We had to break up the tourist tour to drive to Chak’s Apartment where I also had a couch for the night. I was very taken with his home, nicely done up, very stylish all the way. I felt very comfortable from the first moment I stepped in. We had enough time to sit down and talk about this and that, had a look at the records I brought with me and another cup of coffee. There was only one thing to make my day completely: I urgently needed a shower! So I freshened up myself, lent me a dash of Chak’s deodorant and was ready for the night.

Chak managed two gigs for the evening. So the session started at the evening at the "BAR 812", a must-visit hotspot in St. Petersburg and definitely in my top ten Bars I have ever played. I still remember the guy behind the bar who took care of me with some of the best cocktails my tongue ever tasted. I gave him free hand so he constantly surprised me with some incredibly good tasting and also lovely arranged drinks. There was one with dried tea leaves on top what maybe sounds strange but it tasted darned good. Maybe it was because of the Russian-Factor, even Wodka tasted good in the hand of this guy. I remember someone saying that he was one of the best barkeepers of Russia, if not he definitely deserved this title. Not only because of his mixing skills, I liked the guy, he was funny as hell. Along the way I was playing some fine records, too. Hopefully my set was enjoyable, it was not that easy to concentrate on the records: The women at the spot took my breath away! To this day I claim that there was a doorman in front of the bar who was blocking the ugly ones. However, the audience was as nice and friendly as my host Chak, his guys and the people working behind the bar. It felt very good playing some music at this place and it seemed that everyone else was enjoying the whole evening too. The bar was packed so it would not get any better. I'm very happy that this very talented female photographer documented the evening at this spot. The pictures always bring back very good memories. See for yourself... 

To be true, I was not very happy when we had to leave this place for the main gig of the night. Chak took care of everything and had my full confident so I followed him and his guys to the next venue. My newly friend the bartender did his job very well, I still miss the memory how we got to the club. I recall a very nice spot with a lot of other very good DJs playing fine records. Unfortunately, the place was not that packed than usually, Chak told me. Nearly everyone was on the floor shaking their hips while I was playing my set so I did not care very much about the missing guests. I really enjoyed it. There was one guy I especially keep in mind: While I was asking for more beer, he was standing right next to me at the counter. I do not recall why we started talking though he told me that he was from Jekaterinburg and that he travelled about 2 hours by car to St. Petersburg just to hear me play. Honestly, I was deeply moved. I never took myself that serious, not even after the release of the Feeling Nice Compilation, so this statement shocked and flattered at the same time. After this, I was as shy as he was in the first place though I really enjoyed drinking the beer with him. Hopefully you made it back to Jekaterinburg, thanks for your kind words! 

 

My last memory from the night is Chak, his girlfriend, a lot of other people and I  arranged in a circle at the venue's toilet booth - joking, laughing and smoking...

 

On Sunday, we stayed at Chak's crip, relaxing and talking about this and that. My flight back home was scheduled around 3 pm and i definitely was willing to be on this plane while it took off. So we had to leave early, Chak and Ivan drove me to the Airport safely. After the horrible experience of my arrival I was prepared for the worst during the return trip. Surprisingly I made it back home without any trouble - no missed planes, no delay, nothing. Only the safety check-in at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Airport scared me for a few seconds. There was this old Russian woman in uniform with a mustache who was looking very suspicious while checking my passport. Well, I have to say that i did not shaved my face for a while and the photo in my passport looked like I was younger for about 10 years. Not even my friendly smile got some kindness in her face, finally she faved me thru though.

 

In the End, I also got my baggage back - delivered straight to the doorstep two weeks after my return. So in retrospect, it was a fantastic trip even with all the troubles at the beginning. I met some very nice people who took care of me very well and I'm very thankful that I had the opportunity to spent a weekend with these lovely people. There is only one thing I really regret afterwards: I did not had the time to visit the wonderful city of St. Petersburg. For my forthcoming trip I will stay for about a week to make up leeway. This time Igor Trick and his guys invited me to join their decks. I'm really looking forward to it. The flights are already booked - direct flights, for sure! I learned my lesson...

 

Dan Dynomite

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