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ESPERANZA ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE
Since entertainment centres came to our cities, a night under a single roof has become a night out in many places, a full range of choices without needing to make more than a single trip. This is precisely what the Esperanza Centre in Almaty does best. Situated on Seifullina Street, one of the main streets in the city, it is a blend of everything that local people consider essential to the night-out experience. Yet the numerous options available are far from simple variations on a single theme, each is unique however clearly a part of the same centre, with the same professionalism and quality of service in constant evidence. Let's take a tour of the centre.
In spite of what it offers by day, Esperanza is really a night spot. By the time the sun goes down, it has begun to fill up with party-goers from all over the region. Anybody coming here can find fun 24/7, but the real action is to be found from about ten in the evening until daylight the next day!
Its main attraction, the new FRIDAY night club is one of the most popular spots of its kind in Almaty and indeed Central Asia as a whole. Open from 22:00, it has all the ingredients for the best night out in town. FRIDAY is set on two levels, the sizeable ground floor holds the main dance floor with cool lighting, the second floor is designed as a gallery, which offers nice views down to the dance floor. International DJs and stars and those from Kazakhstan are regularly invited to spice up proceedings, for example Nyusha, Ivan Dorn, Group Real-O, DJ Vendetta, DJ Bobina, DJ Teo Moss, Sam Obernik, Deepcentral. This is a fantastic place to go, a great place to meet people and designed fully in the knowledge that a certain degree of intimacy enriches the night time experience. Revellers come again and again.
Next door is the famous RETRO Club, possibly the jewel in the Esperanza crown, open from 20:00 till 06:00, Monday to Saturday and during this time hosts newcomers and regular revellers. Since 2010 it has entertained over-25s either in the 300-capacity main room or the two VIP rooms designed for small celebrations like birthdays, company parties and hen or stag parties. Where the music is concerned, there is an emphasis on the latter decades of the last millennium but with enough variety to suit other tastes. RETRO Night Club hosts regular performances of Russian and foreign music stars including popular singers from the 80s and 90s. Other top stars have come too...Haddaway, Dr.Alban, Shura and Na-Na.
Each of RETRO and FRIDAY are highly recommended, as is early arrival at weekends, and be mindful that face and age control, as well as dress code, are strictly applied.
If a full-on party is not your thing, there is a snug karaoke bar which holds about 30 people making it a good place for a private gathering. However, if not going there in a large group, the room is designed so that everybody feels a part of the show, even if not singing. Although intimacy is a feature of many areas in Esperanza, the size of the karaoke room means that contact with other people is even easier. During the night (this hall is open from 20:00 till 06:00), new friends are almost inevitable.
And the final night-time mention is one that in truth goes to the final port of call for many who come through the Esperanza doors at whatever time, the famous strip bar, 22:00 till 06:00 daily. Esperanza itself is not a strip club and anybody uninterested in this can easily avoid it. The location of this room is discreet and customers intending to dine in the restaurant, play billiards or smoke a shisha in the café are unlikely to stumble in on the pole-dancers by mistake. However many people do consider this part of a night out and make the trip here with this in mind. They are not to be disappointed, the room is specially designed for this purpose and its dancers known for their great beauty, quite unsurprising given that we are in Almaty. Anybody with a passion for strip clubs will find this one of the best, anywhere. Those not wishing to partake can still find hours of fun in this fantastic centre, and will surely wish to come back another day.
Even by day, Esperanza is never empty. You may go for a leisurely hour or so in the 24-hour café and choose from one of the many fine dishes on the full menu. Although there is a focus on the best of local cuisine the choices range from Italian to Turkish, among many others. Meat lovers will be spoiled for choice with the kebabs taking up over a full page, while there is something for you whatever your tastes, all food promptly served by the courteous and knowledgeable staff. A VIP room affords additional privacy on request.
The restaurant is sizeable and very often full which is the ultimate vote of confidence. It shares its menu with the adjoining café and clearly benefits from the same good management, but the similarities are necessarily limited. Those choosing to dine here rather than next door experience the magic of a restaurant rather than the tranquillity of a café. Its food easily disproves the erroneous belief that the Central Asian experience is something to be had independently of whatever is on the menu. This room is open from 12:00 pm until the last customer leaves.
A few steps from the front door is Terrace Café, this too mostly packed to the rafters, customers fully appreciating the lively atmosphere which to a degree distinguishes it from many cafes. The seasonal outdoor terrace and the excellent new rooftop bar Vishi Krishi make visiting Esperanza one of the popular things to do all year round, with each trip a unique experience.
Back inside, the games room has several professional standard billiard tables (Europeans should be warned not to underestimate the difficulty of Russian billiards) while the large screen TVs round the room show sporting events to the many who may come for these alone. You can play here from 16:00 till 06:00 except on Fri, Sat and Sun when opening is as early as 12:00.
One of the striking features of Esperanza is the amazing banquet hall. Holding up to 600 people, there are few better places to celebrate major life events than this. Although it is mostly devoted to weddings, the room is available for any large group perhaps at New Year or any time throughout the year. Kazakhstani parties are renowned and the waiting staff will make sure your glass or your plate is never empty. Even a small Kazakh wedding needs to be seen to be believed, a 600-strong event of this nature would be a day for anybody to remember!