“Think Kyiv, think Closer” has become a slogan synonymous with the Ukrainian capital. The city has long been known for wild techno parties, and in the beginning, Closer made its name as one of the city’s best nightclubs. Today, the complex is one of the most close-knit communities in Kyiv, operating more as a creative hub than a nightlife venue. There are galleries, shops, bars, showrooms, and a radio station, not to mention Closer’s major festivals such as Strichka and Brave! Factory.
As the saying goes, behind any great idea is a great team. For Closer this rings particularly true. We caught up with nine people that bring one of Kyiv’s most vibrant hubs to life.
I opened Closer’s record store because of music — it’s my passion and my joy and I want to share it with other people. I basically manage this place by myself. I was collecting vinyls long before I started DJing. I travelled a lot, visited cult vinyl shops around the world, such as Rush Hour and Hardwax, and realised it’s something that was missing in Kyiv. So I decided to open a vinyl store specialising in house and techno music here at Closer, and the guys lent me a space for free. I’m really grateful. It’s a nice opportunity to escape, to feel like you’re not in Kyiv, but some kind of utopia. Come and explore Closer yourself!
Raving does not always go together with sophisticated drinking or eating, but Closer is again proving an exception. Savage Food, once an experimental veg station inside Closer, has grown into a proper gastrobar serving Ukrainian vegetarian food and elaborate cocktails. The holistic attitude does not end with the menu, though. Major recycling initiatives are taking place at Closer, where straws have long been replaced by spaghetti and the bar is moving towards a plastic ban.
I’ve been managing Savage Food for half a year now, and I’m glad it’s becoming part of the entire Closer experience, even at night. Veganism is growing in Kyiv, but Savage Food might be the only refined veg restaurant with a bar. Closer was the first to believe that both things — sophisticated vegan eating and alcohol — can coexist. Our summer terrace is the best! Imagine chilling out with a forest view, birds whistling idly as you sip one of our exquisite cocktails without a care in the world.
The team proudly claims that Closer is a city within a city. After having entered, one should be able to operate here comfortably for at least 48 hours: switching between the main and riverside dance floors of Lesnoy Prichal, refuelling on Savage food, changing outfits at the 24.00 Showroom, going for a tea ceremony at Lada Garden, or even catching an art exhibition at 4am on Sunday morning. Even when the party is over it’s still worth paying a visit for lunch, shopping, or events — the Closer art centre is open every day to treat you to talks, screenings, and other art events. If you spot a crowd at Sofa Store on a Tuesday, you can bet it’s the Closer team making plans at their impromptu office.
Parties go on for a long time here. I used to come with a set of clothes to get changed into before I realised I can actually open a showroom that would stay open during the party. I started my own brand of basic, one-size T-shirts that are long-lasting on the dance floor, before opening Showroom 24.00 in 2013. In time, my “dressing room” evolved into a proper concept store featuring 60 Ukrainian designers. It’s unique, quality clothing. Another thing I do is Lada Garden, a chill, green tea room with flowers and hammocks. It’s a kind of shelter — from the heat in summer and from the noise and fuss on a wild night.
People kept asking about the sofas in the club. I guess they liked them and so wanted to take them home. We realised it was actually a great business idea — we make money selling sofas and simply buy new ones every so often. The sofas come and go, meaning the look of the place evolves quite often. There was a vacant space behind the cloakroom, previously occupied by the gallery, which we took over to set up a proper store there in April three years ago. Closer is a city within a city and we all work hard to improve its infrastructure — from building elaborate decorations for parties to providing essential facilities at a high level. But still, first and foremost, it is a place to relax and soak in the best music in the city.
I started here as a bartender, then took on more work managing security, cleaning, and working the cloakroom. Closer is the best music school you can imagine. I do door policy for the club, so I meet with so many people who’ve crossed the whole country for one particular DJ. Their dedication to music and the community they have long wanted to encounter is inspiring. It’s really precious to see how powerful the thing we’ve created is, and that it keeps bringing in the most faithful audiences.