Thursday, March 12, 2009

Portrait #76: Jazz Club 212

I live next door to a jazz club. Which, it turns out, is largely just an excuse for a club. Word is that in Kosovo, there's not a lot of demand for different types of clubs. People just want to go out at night - on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, to be specific - drinking and dancing to the usual suspect songs.

But on Wednesday nights, there is live music, and that is often Jazz. They also have karaoke nights. Karaoke in Prishtina is often actually DJ night, but Jazz 212 has stuck with the real deal, I hear.

I finally ventured into 212 this week - twice. Arriving between 22:30 and 23:30, my friends and I were definitely the early-comers. The place filled up maybe an hour later. As we walked in, the bouncer told us to walk down the right side of a long railing. This railing divided the corridor which took us past my house into the club located in actuality directly behind my flat. If we went down the left side, we'd have to pay, he said. And it's true: women walk down the right and men down the left. Men pay.

The first night, the manager sent over free drinks for my friend and myself. I now know that there's something so gratifying yet terribly unnerving about someone buying you a drink in a jazz club. The second night, he came over to chat. Turns out he recognised me as the girl next door. I was further unnerved. He told me that lots of neighbours complain about the loud music at night, but... "business is business", he said with a shrug.

I told him I don't mind at all - in fact, I enjoy falling asleep to the vague rumblings of dance music. But he replied by saying that my best strategy would be to stay with them until 3 or 4 in the morning, when the bar shuts down. Then I walk home and fall asleep to silence. I wonder if he'd keep sending me free drinks if I did that.

On Wednesday I got live music, but not jazz. It was a local band - a talented one at that - performing hits from the 80s - a lot of Depeche Mode. On Friday, though, it was the top 40 dance hits all the way.

The ambiance of this place is great. I'm so proud to live next to Jazz Club 212. They should open during the day and make it a cafe, open in the evenings and make it a pub-restaurant, and then they can also open at night for clubbing. It's a large, spacious wood-paneled room with an island in the centre. The island could be a bar, but instead it's an open space where the bands play. The bar is at the far end of the wall, with a mirror behind it. My favourite feature is the cast iron twirly glass racks hanging above the bar. Must get a photo of those.

The same cast iron curves are repeated in the bases of the tall tables peppered around the room, each with two or three stools. The outer edges of the room are lined with sofas, in natural tones, each with an orange and a yellow cushion/pillow. The sofas have low tables. Wherever there is a table, there is a lamp with a stained glass lamp cover, or else a candle. I got endless entertainment playing with the candle on the table where we sat on Friday.

The place is gorgeous. To be fair, though, Prishtina is replete with such gems hidden in cafes and clubs. Something in the Kosovo culture is an amazing sense of decorative taste. Of course, by the time 212 fills up, you can barely see across the room through the haze of cigarette smoke. And they keep the lights too dim to get any work done - if I had my way, they'd install free wireless (which I could mooch from my flat - ha!) and I'd go there every evening to work. But nonetheless, I like living next to a nightclub.

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