The eXile hasn't reviewed a strip club in over a year, not since Hannah Katz drunkenly stumbled into Grezy in April 2006. We haven't been allowed back since. For this review, we didn't get brutally wasted and blow all our cash on lap dances and the extras that come with being locked up in a dark room with a naked pole dancer. It's not that we didn't want to, but with Adam Levine and Maria Sharapova's law teams at our throats, we need to watch every kopek. So we decided to get serious. We wanted to find out if there's anything to this rumor that sex is being sold in area Moscow clubs. We owe it to our readers to the get the facts and stay sober enough to report them.
To find out, the eXile went deep undercover. We assembled an investigative team of three people - two male editors and one female eXile intern - and headed to the dark underground den known as SHANDRA CLUB & RESTAURANT. Shandra's been around in different incarnations for about half a decade, and it just reappeared on a small street behind the Lukoil building.
We went on a Friday, a little after midnight. The club was packed with between 25 to 50 strippers of every ethnicity imaginable: Russians, Asians, Africans, even one that looked a little Mexican. Most were well-built and fit. Even our intern was impressed.
We sat down in the restaurant section, which has a clear view of the club's main pole room, and ordered a few drinks. There weren't many customers, but this didn't stop the girls from working the poles like the whole world was watching. Despite the strip-bar techno and Sting remixes, Shandra had a nice cozy vibe to it. We would've stayed all night if The eXile's expenses would have allowed it. Things being what they are, we left after 30 minutes.
As for our investigation, we didn't notice any suspicious activity as we surveyed the scene. Near the bar, a couple of Russian goons talked to a handful of strippers. Based on their body language, they were clearly engaged in a conversation about something important, most likely politics. The girls were so interested in what the men had to say that they occasionally leaned in close and stroked their arms. For their part, the dudes were so smitten they bought the girls drinks. No foul play there. Then, all of a sudden, the whole group left and moved to another part of the club and disappeared behind an unmarked door. We never saw them again. There must have been a back entrance that we didn't notice. They probably went to the movies.
Shandra's second room is small and intimate. It has a circular couch facing another pole. Here we found a girl helping an older, Western-looking man retrieve his cell phone, which had fallen to the floor and was stuck under the couch. The man seemed pleased with her help and offered her a hefty tip, which she accepted only after a long and thoughtful hesitation. After all, she had her reputation to think about.
Everything was on the up and up - or so it seemed. Looking at the menu, it occurred to us: What if the menu items were actually coded sex offerings? The names of some of the dishes seemed to confirm our suspicions. A "Sex on the Beach" sushi roll didn't sound like it was served with tuna. Our gut told us it was more like a plateful of warm, moist snapper. The more we read the menu, the more we were convinced.
We ordered a random sample of suspect items, but our guts were wrong. We were served with nothing more and nothing less than a whole lot of tasty food. The Sex on the Beach roll (400r) was made with unagi and wasn't bad by Moscow standards. The Sake Maki roll (180r) also cleared the bar. The grilled Sea Bass (900r) was served on a bed of fresh stir-fried vegetables and was steamy and tasty. The pesto taglioni with mushroom sauce (570r) really hit the spot after all of our grueling investigative work. The prawns in the Caesar Salad (480r) were fresh and properly grilled. And to top it off, the meal came with steaming fresh pita bread.