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Nightlife in Prishtina

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Outside Spray Club
When the sun goes down over Pristina and the city’s working community scurries home in the blazing afternoon heat, there is a lull in the constant noise of the city, traffic slows, the air cools, and the buzz of the city begins to quiet.

But only for a few hours, then the night shift slinks out and the city livens up again. This is a different breed of street crawler than Pristina’s daytime population.

These people are dressed to the nines and are out on the prowl, but not to worry, you are safe here.  For a city of its size, Pristina is safer at night than most western capitals. So dress up, do your hair, and head out into the night – you never know what, or who, is waiting for you.

To begin a look at Kosovo nightlife one has to start the with arguably the country’s most famous nightclub, Spray (Veterrnik, 044 118 518).

Spray opened its doors five years ago and has since been a leader in bringing international DJs for Kosovo’s dancers to enjoy.  Spray hosts the beautiful people of Pristina in a unique club atmosphere that can hold up to 1500 people.  A huge fairy-tale style house in an industrial zone that is 2 kms outside of Pristina, Spray provides the illusion of getting away, not so much from it all, but to it all.  The club owners have brought in musical talent for its customers from countries as far away as Japan, Canada, the USA and Brasil.

Next Level, a promotion and event organization agency and KSClubber have been working with the team at Spray to bring in some more well-known and some more underground DJs to Spray.  There is often a cover charge that varies depending who is playing that night.

Spray also has a website that gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect upon arrival at the club, and even has downloadable DJ sets at www.sprayclub.com.

Spray is not your only option if a night out dancing is what you are looking for.  Closer to town and well within stumbling distance of one another are Duplex and Flirt (Youth Centre Pristina).

Duplex can be seen (and heard) from the main entrance of the UNMIK headquarters.  The best nights to head out for some open air dancing and cocktails are the weekend and Wednesday night. The crowd is varied and you can find people of all ages, and nationalities grinding up against one another, be it by choice, or due to the sheer number of people packed into the club.  People are friendly, young and enthusiastic and you will not find yourself lacking new friends, especially if you are of the fairer sex.  There is a cover charge at the door for men only.  Oddly enough, the space that is Duplex at night is actually a school cafeteria during the day.

Down the stairs and around the corner, once you navigate the dirt road (no mean feat in heels) you will come across the outdoor patio of Flirt.

A slightly more mellow and older crowd, Flirt has the same energy as Duplex but without the frantic edge.  There is no point in arriving at Flirt until well past 11.30 as it does not seem to ever get going until closer to 1am, however, arriving too late often means having to stand in the crowd of hopeful players that hover outside the gate arguing with door men that they are much too important to be left waiting outside.

Flirt has no cover charge, the music is good and the outdoor couches are a great place to star gaze. The only real complaint heard about Flirt is that the men outnumber the women by about 7 to 1.  This is true for most places in Pristina on any given night, and the imbalance only seems to worsen as the night goes on.

Be it due to their proximity to UNMIK or the centre of town but English is heard almost as often as Albanian in these bars.  This is not because there are only foreigners out in these places, they are more often populated with chic locals, but many Kosovars speak English and some are fluent from time spent abroad.  

If the pulsing beats and flashing lights of the nightclub scene is not your thing, or you are simply looking to have a quiet drink and a chat before heading out on the town, then there are plenty of other options for you in central Pristina.

For those looking for somewhere trendy and slick, there are more than a few café/lounges to wile away a few hours in.  The uber-cool Odyssea (Perandori Justinian - Pejton

044 556 444) offers muted lighting, a warm dark wood atmosphere, a well-stocked bar and a menu sure to please the pickiest visitor.  Huge black and white photographs decorate the back walls, and sleek furniture compliment the minimalist décor.

Usually hopping with hipsters, especially on weekends, the crowd in Odyssea are mid-twenties or older and are clearly some of Pristina’s more sophisticated characters.  While Odyssea is not an inexpensive spot to hang out, there is good music, a relaxed atmosphere and lots of interesting people at the bar.

If the Odyssea scene is a bit too stylized for your tastes and you are looking for a more authentic drinking experience head back to the centre of town.

The corner of Nena Tereze may appear to be a house party spilled out on to the road but in fact, as the local bars get a bit too crowded people simply grab their drinks, their friends and take to the street.

An urban vibe can be felt at Phish, with a crowd consisting of locals and a few internationals.  Cozy and easy-going, Phish does not have a pretentious feel that you can find in a swankier club, but the décor is cool, and the people are stylish so it is still worthy of getting dressed up for.

Across the street on Nena Tereze is one of Pristina’s hidden jewels.  Tirona is a simple, tiny place with great food, a good-sized outdoor patio and a comfortable interior, the only downside is you can rarely find a seat in this popular, local hang-out.  Opening hours can be unpredictable but it is always worth passing by to see if you can find a spot to have a drink, chat up locals or just watch the street party nearby.

Another great spot less known by the international community would be the Soul Bar, or Johnny’s, as it is commonly referred to both ways.  On a tiny back road with no visible street sign, you have to luck out to find a cab driver who knows it, but it is well worth the effort.

This little hot-spot is crowded, all the time.  That may be because it is about the size of a common household living room and a quarter of the space is taken up by the bar and turntables.  However, somehow in the small space the crowd does not feel stifling.  People are friendly, jovial and the music is a mix of old favorites such as James Brown with a few surprises thrown in to keep it from being predictable (I’ve not heard Leonard Cohen anywhere else in Pristina).  Far from pretentious, the owner, Johnny, can often be found tending bar and playing DJ.  This creates a welcoming atmosphere that has a magic that many bars strive for but fail to achieve.

If you are suffering from a touch of homesickness and a western pub is what you are looking for, or perhaps there is a football game on and you simply must see Liverpool beat Manchester United then there is one sure bet.

The international community of Pristina seems to have picked the Pub 91 in front of UNMIK headquarters as their alternate home base. Football games are sure to be on (satellite allowing), and you can count on the opposing team having supporters within earshot so as your heckling does not go to waste.

The Pub is busy most nights, but can be quieter on the weekend during the summer when people head out of town for a few days.  The pub is a great place to sit back and enjoy listening to the multitude of languages being spoken around you.  While English is the predominant way to communicate here, you can always be sure to hear some Albanian, and more than certainly some German or Italian as well.  Good food, friendly staff and Guinness on tap make this a popular place.

The Phoenix around the corner is another well-known hang out for internationals and is known for it’s live music on the weekend.  While the Phoenix is normally busy at night with a lively enough crowd, it is usually worth passing by the morning after. You can often find your drinking friends, tucked away in a corner of the pub, feasting on the English fry-up breakfast, a sure bet to kill the pain from the night before.

If dancing up a storm or making new friends pales in comparison to the thrill of public humiliation for you, then karaoke at Tokyo Bar (Bekim Berisha No:2 – Arberia, 044 988 578) on the weekends is a must.  Tokyo serves good food in a fairly authentic atmosphere, but the real fun only starts once drinks have been downed and everyone’s liquid courage starts to kick in.  It is hard to describe the kind of emotion elicited by the sincere crooning of  a large, tattooed German soldier belting out easy listening tunes after his 18th beer.

But it is well worth heading out to see.

There are countless other great spots in Pristina, and it takes time and commitment to check them all out.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write to us and let us know what is going on in the city, what is worth seeing, and what is not.

Be safe out there.
Vanessa is a journalist with Kosovo's English-language weekly newspaper Kosov@ Post.

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