Bar-time gas attack

The problem of clearing a nightspot out at bar time is apparently universal. It’s just that the Russians (no surprises here) sometimes take a more direct approach, as I learned last night.

At the Plaza Tavern in Madison, Wisconsin, the bartender cranks the loudspeaker to an earsplitting level and yells until even the drunkest patron flees half-deaf into the night. At the Dacha bar in St. Petersburg, they just drop some tear gas until the bar-goers stumble out, wet-cheeked and coughing.

When my throat initially began constricting from the gas, I thought I was having the first asthma attack of my life. My next thought was that the cops were raiding the place. It wasn’t until my international group of friends (promoting Russian-American relations, one drink at a time) reassembled outside that the concept of a bar gassing its own patrons even entered my head.

“I can’t believe we were just gassed out of a bar,” was the refrain among my fellow Americans and I as we headed home. But according to the desk clerk at our hotel-dorm, such an occurrence is not entirely uncommon here.

The gas tactic strikes me as distinctly Russian, or at least far from the typical American approach. A harsh, but pragmatic solution.

And the situation wasn’t nearly as serious as when a UW professor was drugged by a taxi driver in St. Petersburg last year.

***** UPDATE *****

My new bartender friend agreed that bars here occasionally gas their patrons out. His exact words: «В России, так делают нормально», or, loosely translated, “In Russia, they can do that fine.”

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2 Responses to “Bar-time gas attack”

  1. Wow Alec, that’s pretty different. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hey Alec,

    one year on and me and my flate mate had the exact same experience in the same bar… which was a pretty fun place otherwise…
    Went to bar “Fidel” next door the next night out which was even more fun… the gassing was pretty scary though… thanks for sharing on your blog as we had no clue what had actually happened to us until we googled it an came across your entry.

    Best wishes from London,
    Markus

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