Dubbed the ï¿½wildest bar in the world by the Washington Post in the mid1990s, the legendary Moscow bar the Hungry Duck is due to re-open next week.
An icon that epitomised the madness of the 1990s, the Hungary Duck was infamous amongst both Russians and expats in the second half of the 90s and made its founder restaurateur Canadian Doug Steel a major celebrity.
One of numerous projects founded by Steel, including the equally popular, although slightly more restrained, Doug and Martyï¿½s Boarhouse, Steel is still in Moscow and recently opened a TexMex restaurant near Red Square.
However, it was ï¿½Ladies Nightï¿½ at the Hungary Duck that was the main attraction. Women-only were admitted to the bar for free between 7pm and 9pm where they were treated to free alcohol and a male-strip show that whipped the crowd into a sexual frenzy in its amphitheatre-like main room. Girls were routinely dragged onto the bar and ended up partially clad. At 9pm the men were allowed in. Customers famously danced on the bar occasionally falling off into the crowd.
The closure of the Duck was widely reported in the international press in 1998 only a few months after default and devaluation of the ruble after Russian nightlife magazine Ne Spat took four Duma deputies out on the town. They walked into the Duck during the women-only part of the evening just as Dillan, a black stripper was writhing on top of a scantily clad Russian customer to the strains of the Russian national anthem. The next day the deputies complained about the bar on the floor of the Duma and that night the bar was raided by over a hundred officials from the tax, health, fire and other state agencies.
Steel floated the idea of re-launching the bar in Minsk a few years ago but never followed through. The new Duck promises to be a bit tamer than the old one. According to the invitation that went out this week via social networking sites, the venue is the same, but the interior has been remodelled with a new bar area, games room and food has been added to the old formula. The launch party on June 22 is bound to be a major event amongst expats and Russians that frequented the bar in the 1990s except of course everyone is more than 10 years older now.