Coffee shop by day, club by night — this free-spirited, neon-lit establishment looks like it’s just stepped out of a Gaspar Noé film and onto the streets of central Minsk. Leave decorum at the door: here, it only takes a second to go from exchanging names to dancing with the DJ and becoming involved in an art therapy session on Sunday morning. No pressure though, because for those less inclined to drink, there are also coffee and vegan pastries available. The works of art on sale here are an additional draw for those interested in the latest in Belarusian contemporary creativity.
You can feel the kinship and agency of the team behind Karma Crew when you visit their bar, where the owners make and serve the drinks themselves, regulars bring their own crockery and flower pots, you can get a tattoo done in the corner, and artsy friends start up impromptu music sessions. There’s also the chance to improve your karma by stopping in for a vegan charity lunch supporting local dog shelters. On an ordinary day, a selection of sandwiches, a soup of the day, and a variety of homemade cakes are available for those needing to fuel up for a day in Minsk.
Photography shows, film screenings, lectures — OK16 has everything that you might associate with a contemporary culture hub. In addition, it’s also the heart of Minsk clubbing, sitting on the industrial grounds of a former factory on Oktyabrskaya 16, where parties organised by collectives Mechta and Siyanie take place. While Mechta is a raucous hub that’s putting Minsk on the international techno tourism map, Siyanie remains the city’s favourite curated music venue, with the added charm of a private party. Be it an exhibition or a club night, OK16 is definitely the place to discover how close-knit and passionate the local creative community in Minsk can be.
Huligan is probably the best place to feel at home with complete strangers and join an ad-hoc party crew if you happen to find yourself on vacation in Minsk alone. And although the bar lives up to its name, there are still rules that are strictly obeyed here: open-mindness, diversity, and cheap drinks. What else do you need? It’s also a stone’s throw from both OK16 and SQUAT clubs, making it the perfect stopover as you cruise between exhibitions, talks, and parties on Oktyabrskaya 16.
Favoured by locals as well as Moscow-based touring collectives like Ping Pong Club and ZULUWARRIOR, SQUAT will be the place to push your party potential to the max. As the name suggests, this institution is both welcoming and experimental. Check out SQUAT’s official page to decide what you’re up for — whether it’s the incredible live performances of amped-up Ukrainian musicians like Lectromagnetique, or an open-air Sunday swap market.