Awesome! This type of dancing(ballet is still very popular and still preformed by Russian military branches. We have special holidays where the military preforms dances, shows and other things.
For one reason or another, what people know about Russia is often linked to alcohol. The experience of Russian drinking culture is the subject of one well-known joke, when a foreigner writes in his journal: “Monday. Drank with the Russians. Tuesday. Almost died. Wednesday. Drank with the Russians some more. Thursday. Should have died on Tuesday.” So it is necessary to pay homage to the way Russians deal with the after-effects of drink, both on a national and a personal level.
The misery of a hangover has not changed for centuries, neither has the campaign against misbehaving drunks, so the question of post-drinking blues has a long history.
People that roam the city after their drinking escapades risk ending up in a vytrezvitel, a ’drunk tank’, a place that has inspired fear in generations of Russians. It was conceived as an institution in tsarist times, the first one opening in 1902 in Tula to save local army men from freezing to death after their squad had a bit too much. It was reinstated in the Soviet Union in 1931 and came under the control of the Interior Ministry in 1940.
During the prohibitionist years, the police had a daily norm of picked-up drunks. They drove around in a special wagon nicknamed a kopilka (piggy bank) and singled out people that threatened public safety: quite often the victims were chosen at random, especially on cold nights when the patrols got tired and bored.
Even though prohibition was short-lived in Russia, putting stray drunkards into the kopilka is still in practice; moreover, it’s profitable for the officers. When morning comes to the vytrezvitel and you find out that half of your money was gone overnight, the police cheerfully tell you to be more careful next time you go out to a bar. After all, it’s not called a piggy-bank for nothing!
If you manage to get home without event, there are a few traditional Russian hangover cures for the morning-after that have been popular for centuries. The most popular is the brine from either pickles or Russian sauerkraut (called rassol in Russian) as it contains the necessary potassium and magnesium. Another handy liquid is kvass, which is a brown malt beverage made of fermented rye bread.
Many Russians believe that it’s better to fight fire with fire and sip warm beer from the night before, but there is the risk of getting carried away and continuing the previous night’s debauchery and spiralling into the vicious circle of a zapoy, or drinking binge.
For the more ambitious, there are also Russian hangover cocktails that juggle the classic ingredients like eggs, spices and tomato juice. For one, known as “Sick head,” the directions are as follows: you have to cover a glass with a thin coat of vegetable oil, break one egg into the glass, a pinch of salt, and red and black pepper. Pour in two tablespoons of vodka and mix well. Close your eyes and nose, forget what is in the glass, and gulp down the contents. After the procedure the victim should lie down and rest with a cold towel over the forehead.
There is also traditional hangover food. The classic greasy burger and shake never really took off in Russia, but there is one dish that is recognized as a guaranteed hangover remedy. It is a thick stew called haash, which actually comes from the Caucasus and is even served in Moscow’s Armenian restaurants on January 1st to alleviate the morning-after misery. Haash is a pain to prepare: you have to cook tripe and beef trotters for six hours and consume the result with radish and a lot of garlic.
Another curing “snack” was allegedly discovered by Tsar Nicholas II, and is called “Nikolashka”: take a slice of lemon, put a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of coffee on top, and eat in one bite.
All of these may be helpful and tested by generations of Russians, but when that morning comes, most people can’t find the strength to prepare a complicated recipe. Some opt for “Alka-Seltzer and sleep”, others put instant coffee into coca-cola, and some, like my friend Alina, choose “rassol and a guillotine”.