Friday, February 02, 2007

When its cold outside, Yerevan moves inside.

For many diasporan Armenians who have only visited the place between June and August - Yerevan is a land of outdoor lifestyle. Streets full of people strolling at dusk, parks and fountains as congregation areas, days at the pool for those fortunate enough to have a membership, outdoor barbeques and picnics, hiking and of course- countless outdoor cafĂ©’s packed to capacity with friends and families relaxing with cocktails and fresh juice smoothies until all hours of the morning.

A vision most have not seen is the snowy and boots/hat/gloves clad side of Yerevan. You may ask yourself- what do people do all winter aside from trudging through the snowy streets on a hunt for heat? I have found ample answers to that question in just 2 weeks of being back in town. The atmosphere of being bundled up together with close friends in a warm cozy place has been charming. And the number of unique places where we have managed to convene, and the varying activities we have found to occupy ourselves, is remarkable. There is a secret bond with people who have survived the winter together and a certain level of respect that is earned for it. These photos do not document the many pleasant evenings spent just hanging out at eachother’s apartment and passing the time with tea, conversation and the occasional DVD.

Upstairs at Kino Nyiri
Huge finders fee should go out to Mano for discovering the VIP level of this movie theater, which can be rented out for private screenings!

New Irish Pub
(yes, Irish Pub in Yerevan) Shamrock’s grand opening
Guiness is now readily available in Hayastan. Guest musical appearance by Nareg- the craziest musician I have ever met – with a medley of original Armenian songs, the Beatles, the Stones and Pink Floyd to finish.

Bambir concert at Stop Club
Welcome back to the 1970’s. Rock music with an attitude, alternatively-dressed kids letting lose and acting out freely, and people dancing to James Brown (RIP) during intermissions between sets…Stop Club is the breeding ground of Yerevan’s youth rock and roll revolution- mark my words. It is also the Yerevan equivalent of DC’s 9:30 club- for those familiar- replete with a balcony level overlooking the stage and that feeling as though the artists are giving this concert just for you and a couple of their close friends.

BAMBIR is Armenia’s one and only rock band, which has gained popularity as it moves through generations. Originally started by the father’s of some of the current boys in the band- the Gyumri based group began jamming after the earthquake of 1988. If you stick around here long enough you’ll discover that there’s something about Gyumri that produces great artists, and Bambir is a living, breathing, rocking, example.

Avant Garde Music Club

This intimate venue is still booking great musical acts from around the world...

Amiryan Karaoke
Armenian style Karaoke bars save you the embarrassment of standing up on a stage with everyone staring at you. It’s much more bearable when the mic is brought to your table. With the protection of your friends surrounding you on all sides it feel more like singing along to the radio in the backseat of a car.

Club ONE SO exclusive that it doesn't even have a sign outside. Most people don't even know that the new (dare I say, "state of the art") club opened up just 2 months ago because their parties are never advertised and generally you must have an invitation to get in. Contrasted to the other "discoteque"-choices which are cave-like and unventilated (and generally feature a few mirrors), Club One makes you feel transported out of the South Caucasus for a night...choice of music, however: still house. all the time.

(isn't my photo impressive!)


Onnik Krikorian said...

Guiness is now readily available in Hayastan

Please, it was always available in cans at Emile's or in supermarkets.

What isn't available is anywhere selling it on draught as they do in Baku and Tbilisi.

Now, when that happens, I'll be the first to admit that Guinness is now readily available in Hayastan.

BTW: This is my 9th consequtive winter here in Armenia, and in my personal opinion, the novelty has worn thin. It just means more costs, less to do, and waiting around until the spring.

Still, think I found it an interesting experience the first three winters. Since then, it's a pain in the arse and Yerevan wears thin, especially as the snow and ice makes walking and driving dangerous.

Otherwise, an interesting roundup although it's worth pointing out that all of the above require money which is why most of the population is still inside. ;-)

Anoush Rima said...

9th winter! This is just my first so it's still unique and bearable.

And yes, all of these venues require money. This is a very 'diasporan' post. I did mention the nights in with a cup of tea though...Anyway, I'll get back to being a humanitarian momentarily.

Steve said...

Wow, I wished I would have known some of this before today. I'm leaving on Thursday, but back in Yerevan for work in March. I almost went to Stop Club a couple weeks ago to see a rock band, but the name escapes me, but I think it was two-one-syllable words.

Myrthe said...

Your post shows something else: that Yerevan is really a small town. Although you and I have never met, we seem to know a lot of the same people. There are too many familiar faces in your pictures! And I know of one other person you and I both know, but who is not in the pictures.

Anoush Rima said...

ha! so who are you! where will you be this weekend...or should I just try to guess. now you know who i am- so introduce yourself if i manage to end up in the same place as you. yerevan is our village.

Myrthe said...

I will probably be at the 80s party in Gaudi on Saturday evening, other than that no plans yet. Otherwise get in touch via my blog (there's an emailadress there):
Or ask the older of the two bartenders at Shamrock. He's my bf.

Myrthe said...

Or ask R, who does site-updates for Birthright.

Steve said...

Yerevan is small. I've been here for less than 3 weeks and already recognize people on the street. :)