St Petersburg: city of revolution turns itself around – again

This year all eyes have been on what happened in Russia’s cultural capital 100 years ago, but we ask local artists and musicians for the lowdown on its best 21st-century clubs and arts venues

“You won’t find anything like this in Moscow,” Kolya Dubinko, a St Petersburg native, insists. We’re sitting on a wooden bench next to an old sailing boat outside newly opened bar/club Machty (Masts). The venue – which on this particular evening is hosting a selection of techno DJs and producers on Moscow label Gost Zvuk Records – occupies a former factory known as Priboi that once produced radio-electronics. It’s in a relatively secluded spot at the far end ofVasilievsky Island, one of the oldest parts of the city, on the Shkiperskiy canal. Machty simultaneously reflects the city’s intimate relationship with water (St Petersburg has 93 rivers and canals and 800 bridges), its industrial Soviet past and its 18th-century baroque architecture. Kolya ushers me through a small gate that leads to the canalembankment and I’m hit by biting wind from the Gulf of Finland, laced with smells of fish and engine oil.

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