One of Kyiv’s most popular dance clubs – at least among its older population – is not a club at all. For pensioners living in Kyiv, Ukraine, the hot place to be on a Saturday night is the Teatralna metro station. Weekly dances have been held every Saturday night in the station for at least 20 years. City authorities turn a blind eye because they know that the older dancers, who are mostly living on fixed incomes, cannot afford to go anywhere else.
The station is decorated in the old Soviet style. Red marble columns line the entryways. Alcoves hold ornate bronze statues. The walls are white marble and the floors polished granite.
About 200 people show up for each of the dances, which last about 4 hours. Some dress in hats and coats to combat the underground chill. Others wear traditional Ukrainian costumes. A live band featuring accordion, tambourines and saxophones plays each weekend in front of the station’s baked potato stand for the dancers’ enjoyment.
At least 20 couples have found one another at the underground dance socials. The weekly social nights are a way for Ukraine’s older citizens to get out and meet new people. These are folks who do not have the skills that their grandchildren do with social networks. The older folks’ way of socializing harkens back to traditional Ukrainian celebrations. People get together, bring food and music, and dance. When the festivities are over, the band packs up, and everyone leaves the concourse until next week’s revel.