(Just south of the London school, next door)
opening and closing ours are fluid like most places in Bishkek
Beers are usually between 60-100 som
Everyone has their “joint,” and I make it my business to find myself a local watering hole in whatever part of the world I end up in in my travels. My joint in Bishkek was Bar Hollywood.
A place’s “jointhood” is directly proportional to the amount of stories that have been told in that place, and the stories that are born in that place, and believe me friends, we will get to mine, but first, lets talk a little bit about this place without me in it, shall we? The place is a Hollywood/LA themed (or what they perceive that to be here) bar with all the kind of things you would expect from that, save for the fact that they kick it into overdrive. Dark red lighting, red brick walls, leather seats, and just about any pop culture reference adorning the wall you can imagine. The place is a living, breathing, schizophrenic pop culture reference. Take your pick: Marylin, The Godfather, Scarface, route 66, Johnny Depp, surfer lore, LA Lakers and Clippers posters, and gangster-this-gangster-that out the wazoo.
It is a cute little thing I noticed about a lot of places here, in this country, that they take a lot of the American affectations that we understand because of their historical and cultural context, and they try to imitate it without the depth (or lack thereof). What you get is a caricature of a mosaic of Hollywood or whatever they perceive the implications of that word to entail.
When you walk into the place, every single table has a “reserved” sign on it. Those tables aren’t actually reserved, they just put it there as one of those stylistic affectations to kick up that exclusive feel. So sit where you like, because chances are the seat is free. The beer is cheep, and they sell food that is, to them, American. Example: Chili, only it looks absolutely nothing like chili, nor does it taste like it. It’s more of just kind of a bean soup type thing.
The music also doesn’t in any way match up with the bar. The bar goes for that relaxed LA aesthetic à la Bogart, but they blast, at ear shattering decibels, Russian dance club music… only there is no dancing. This kind of stuff only adds to the charm for me.
The place has got soul, and that’s what I like about it, because I know there really ain’t many other places that I am going to find on earth like this one. Example: It is pretty normal in this part of the world to kind of just let their kid run around and entertain the people around them. There is a kid here that runs around Bar Hollywood in a mullet and a Buzz Lightyear t-shirt… really. This in particular really upped the “joint” factor, because this kid reminded me so much of myself when I was a little bambino all wild eyed and wild haired yelling at people with my little mullet.
Another story from Bar Hollywood: my friend Gabriele and I were hanging out and having a drink and this guy decides to come over and sit with us. The guy was as toasted as toasted gets, dressed like a wannabe gangster, and started making conversation, or spitting noises that sounded like words. He learned of my Italian heritage, and of Gabriele being from Sicily and he seemed to have some obsession with telling us we were in the mafia… he wasn’t making sense but he was jovial. As it turned out he was a border guard, playing gangster on Saturday night with his friends who were embarrassed and looked apologetic on his behalf. Then it got weird and he started showing us pictures of his daughters. Worst gangster on earth.
The place is also just a minute’s walk away from the London School. The beer is cheep, the people are entertaining, and the aesthetic is… something, but something I like. So hang out here if you are in Bishkek.