One hot Friday night, a group of fellow students and I made our way to a nightclub. Little did I know I would end up spending each of my subsequent free weekends dancing the night away in various Bishkek nightclubs. They are fun and cheap, so if you go with a group of friends, you’re sure to have a good time. Going to a club also allows you to meet locals. People are more open to conversation and meeting new people in a club than they are on the street, so if you want a way to burst out of the English-speaking bubble, finding a club with a friendly crowd is certainly an option.
Finding the different nightclubs Bishkek has to offer can be difficult. Many clubs are closed, but still show up in Internet searches. This guide ended up being the most helpful when searching for clubs. The author also talks about bars in addition to nightclubs.
Most of the clubs we went to were free for us to enter (clubs want Americans to come because they think we’ll spend a lot of money).
When travelling to and from clubs, marshrutkas are the cheapest option. The Namba taxi app is ideal when returning. Namba has a pickup fee of 50 som (about $0.75), and costs 10 som ($0.14) for each kilometer. There is no cost for extra riders, so the ride can be very cheap when split among friends. There is an app you can download, or you can order the cab online. You need a local number to contact the cab, however, so use the number of someone with a local SIM card or the phone given to you by the school. Namba calls/texts you to let you know there is a cab on its way and to alert you when it arrives. You can also hail a cab outside the club, but it will be much more expensive, especially if you don’t negotiate the price.
The dress code is consistent across clubs. Generally, you don’t want to wear just a t-shirt and shorts. Men usually wear pants and a nice shirt, while women’s wear ranges from dresses and heels to nice tops and jeans. Most of the local women didn’t wear shorts, but it’s not improper to rock shorts with a cute top. Essentially, men should wear pants and nice shirts and women can wear whatever they’d like.
When you search for nightclubs in Bishkek, Promzona always pops up. It’s considered one of the best nightclubs in Bishkek, and it’s been around for many years. We took a cab, which was only about a ten minute drive from the school, and cost 120 som ($1.75) for four of us (resulting in a cost of only 30 som each for the ride). The entrance fee was a little steep, at 450 som (about $6.60) on a Friday night after 11pm. It was the only club where I paid an entrance fee. Promzona is also the smallest of the clubs I attended. The inside is intimate, very dark, and has an industrial theme. There are tables along the left half, a dance floor, and a bar along the right wall. Prices are similar to Metro Pub (see below), with the cheapest shots costing 150 som ($2.20) and mixed drinks ranging from about 250 to 450 som ($3.70-6.60). Promzona usually has a live band that plays rock and pop music, including throwback and modern. The dress was overall casual, but you’ll want to dress up a little bit to fit in. If you’re new to the club scene, or just prefer more lowkey clubs, Promzona is definitely worth checking out. I was only able to go once because they began renovation in the middle of my program.
Like Promzona, Zavod is at the top of the list of Bishkek nightclubs. It’s a popular club among Bishkek locals. You are supposed to be at least 23 years old to enter, but you’re able to get in (and avoid the 300 som cover) by showing up as part of a group of American students. Because of the age control, though, the crowd is older, but when we were there they were very friendly and open to dancing with people outside their group. The dress code is nicer than Promzona, but not formal.
Zavod is located on the top floor of Bishkek Park. It’s south of the school, about a 15 minute marshrutka ride. It has themed events during the week, and the interior is like Promzona, sporting an industrial theme. Whereas Promzona has a more rock ’n’ roll feel, Zavod has booming EDM music, complete with fog and flashing lights.
Metro Pub is easily my favorite nightclub in Bishkek. It didn’t show up as frequently as Promzona and Zavod when I was researching nightclubs, but it is one of the most popular clubs. It has both a large dance floor that plays EDM (electronic dance music) and a more intimate stage with a live band. There is no cover fee, and it is always crowded on the weekends. There are two zones in the club. In the back room, you might feel like you’re dancing in a mansion, while the front of the club sports dark wood and a more hipster feel. It is sort of like a combination of Zavod and Promzona because you can have both the flashing lights, fog, and DJ as well as the live band that plays rock and pop music. Prices are similar to those at Promzona, with the cheapest shots being 150 som ($2.20) and mixed drinks ranging from 250 to 450 som ($3.70-6.60). Metro Pub also serves food and has a VIP section in a balcony that overlooks the large dance floor.
Metro Pub is about a 20 minute marshrutka ride from the school, past Ala-Too Square. It’s a popular place for tourists, but the crowd isn’t always very friendly. Generally, Saturdays are better than Fridays, with a bigger crowd throughout the night and more open dancers.
See a more detailed description of Metro Pub here.
Bar 12 is one of the high-end bars in Bishkek that also has dancing space. It was the most expensive club I attended, but it’s not terribly expensive if you think in terms of US prices. It’s on the top floor and goes onto the roof, where you can overlook the city. We went on the weekend at about midnight, however, and no one was there. I hear it gets more crowded as the night goes on, but we ended up going to Metro Pub after a couple of drinks. While you can rock t-shirts at the other clubs, you’ll have to leave them at home if going to Bar 12. You don’t have to wear heels or a suit, but make an effort to look nice.
The Mansion boasts the largest dance floor in Bishkek, but, unfortunately, I was unable to go during my trip because it was under renovation. Based on what I’ve read online, if you like the bigger crowds with lots of dancing and EDM (electronic dance music), The Mansion is most likely worth checking out. There was another club I didn’t have a chance to try, Rock Bar Zeppelin, where live bands play rock music. The final major club is Retro Metro (not to be confused with Metro Pub). I didn’t go to Retro Metro because we heard from other students that it was too small and had an older, unfriendly crowd.
Get Out and Dance!
If you find yourself wondering what to do over the weekend, the club scene in Bishkek is worth checking out. This guide has covered just a few but there are many more – such as Retro Metro Discotec and Rock Bar Zeppelin. There is a club for every kind of experience. Most of them use Instagram as their primary mode of advertisement, and it’s the easiest way to check if a club is open and get a feel for the crowd. Of course, be safe when going out. My friends and I never had any issues or dangerous encounters, but you still want to make sure to keep an eye on your friends. Dancing on the weekend is a great way to relax, make friends, and experience the culture of Bishkek.