Something we discovered in Tblisi is face control. What’s face control you say? Well it all started on a night out…
Earlier in the day on the walking tour of Tbilisi we met two Lebanese girls from Dubai – Andrea and Karen who we quickly became friends with. They were only in Georgia for the weekend so we all decided to go and check out the local night life. Armed with some recommendations from the walking tour guide, Alexei and I headed over to check out one of the bars near our hostel. We walked in to a room which was smaller than my bedroom when I was nine. It was unbelievably hot and all the drinkers had spilt out on to the streets sprawled on to the pavements and across the Subway sandwich shop. Something about drinking a beer whilst watching someone quietly devour a six inch meatball sub at 8pm is not really appealing to me. Maybe at 2am instead! Deciding the bar didn’t have the kind of atmosphere we were looking for, we headed into the tourist town centre instead where we would wait for Andrea and Karen to finish dinner.
Andrea, Karen, face-control boy and your’s truly, looking like I got tangoed. Oh and just one more reason to visit Georgia, the GARLICKIEST fried potatoes
We picked a nice bar with outdoor seating and a relaxed vibe. A few minutes later two guys pirouetted into the bar clad in tights with giant furry hats on. It was our lucky night – it was traditional Georgian dancing! It was very impressive but something felt weird. You don’t normally have traditional Georgian dancing to Beyonce do you? The bar next door had decided that their dancing was an indication that this bar wanted to start a war, so they began blasting their music out loud of outdoor speakers, masking the sound of our traditional beats (mixed with the occasional Beyonce hit). The traditional bar responded and cranked up the volume, the crowd cheered and the dancers continued their routine.
The girls arrived with a fresh list of bars we could try out. A list of ‘underground’ spots, without a map and recommended by some cousin. Luckily after a bit of Google mapping we found one and so we set off. Alexei took the lead and flagged down a taxi. BANG! What the fuck?! As Alexei made his way to open the passenger side door the taxi driver accelerated straight into his leg leaving a little gash (Alexei would probably claim he needed twenty stitches and six rounds of physio to fix it, in truth ONE plaster did the trick). Now I have talked about the crazy driving in Georgia before but I have never seen a taxi driver run over a passenger AFTER accepting a fare! “What the hell are you doing?!” we shouted at Andre the driver, but he just stared at us with his crazy possessed eyes. Alexei obviously took this as an apology and didn’t seem to mind that the bumper had almost taken off half of his leg! He jumped in to the taxi. The rest of us followed. “Take us to Gallery bar”. Andre put his foot on the gas and we were off.
“You good driver wooooo!!! Nice driving style” shouted Alexei over the pumping beats. “Yes!! I go fast!” Andre accelerates faster and take his hands off the wheel excitedly. Eyes still possessed but with a new flicker of excitement running through them. This is a common thing that happens when taking taxis with Alexei, he encourages very stupid behaviour! Andre was speeding through a tunnel, there were no seat belts in the back seat so we clung to each other hoping we wouldn’t crash. Alexei still cheering and getting Andre more and more excited. This was like the shittest version of the shit movie Fast and Furious. Suddenly we stopped at a petrol garage. After filling up for ten seconds we were off again. A few minutes later, we stopped again. “Everyone get out” he said. “What?! Why?!” we were in another petrol garage, seconds after filling up in another one. We stood on the tarmac and waited for the attendant to fill the tank. I don’t why we had two stop twice for petrol, my only guess is that Andre drives like such a lunatic that ends up going through petrol like Alexei does kachapuri.
After driving around a while and asking other taxi drivers, it was clear ‘Andre the possessed’ had no idea where Gallery bar was. Nor had he EVER known. We decided we had a better chance of living and finding the place if we just walked and found the place ourselves. Apparently all the cool bars in Tbilisi are quite hidden and underground. So underground in fact that we couldn’t find the damn thing! We wondered around the streets but just came across empty buildings, did these places even exist?!. We went back to the list – cafe gallery. It is ‘a restaurant that turns into a bar and doesn’t close until the last person leaves!’ said the description on the phone. Sounds perfect! Karen’s friend had been there the week before apparently and Google maps said we were two minutes away. Finally, we might be able to get a drink – it had been an hour by this point after all!
We turned the corner and there it was. No queue, we will be sipping drinks in no time we thought. Alexei approached the bouncers.
“Look at camera” they said as they pointed to the door.
Nothing for 10 seconds.
“OK, so can we go in then?” asked Alexei
“No. Move away”
“No get out way”
“I don’t get it, why can’t we go in?”
“Feyssssssss connn-trrrrol” barked the big bouncer man – as two 15 year old casually got allowed in next to us.
“What the hell is fess control?!” Alexei looked confused.
“F-A-C-E control” he said again pointing at the camera. Like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
We were confused and Alexei was clearly offended. What the hell is face control? Then it dawned on us. The little guy sitting in the office behind the camera, after years of bullying at school had decided to get his on back on life by deciding who can or cannot come into the club based on what your face is like! I felt bad for Alexei, we’d only been travelling for a month and he hadn’t let himself go that badly just yet! Being told you’re ugly to your face is a hard thing to deal with. We offered our support by laughing hysterically.
Apparently this guy was running the face control operation that night…
We stood by the door watching all the other party goers walk straight in. I felt cheated, like when you go all the way to Mcdonald’s just to get home and realise they’ve forgotten to put your fries in the bag! This was something new, we have never been rejected from a bar SOBER before (being totally drunk obviously does not count!) We had to go to another bar and quick too before this little face control hiccup ruined our night. Just then I had a brain wave – let’s call Tako the girl we met earlier in Shektaveli. Tako was cool and should be able to to tell us where we could go. Plus she was like batman, a super relaxed lifesaver appearing out of nowhere in Shekvitili. It was a bit embarrassing for Alexei to call Tako (he could have been her dad’s age probably), to tell her that we were lost and had just been rejected due to Alexei’s face. Thankfully Alexei called and Tako answered and even better she was in some underground bar next door. We walked over tentatively with low expectations. And just our luck… no face control so we were in! It was funky hipster bar, full of Georgian hipsters doing Georgian hipster dancing. The only problem was they had closed the bar and were no longer serving… at 10pm!! We eventually managed to get one drink out of them and the proceeded to join in with the hipster dancing (waving our hands from side to side basically).
The club was emptying so we decided to move on. The only trouble was face control seemed to be super tight and we were struggling to get entry to any cool looking bars. We were ushered away by every bouncer. We stood by the sidelines watching all the partygoers fist pump the night away. In the end, there were only two choices, go back to the hostel and find Alexei a nice dress and heels to wear or admit defeat and go back to the tourist town centre. I am sorry to say the latter won. We spent the rest of our night in a bar that looked like a crappy fake library with even crappier music. I am still confident I will get Alexei in a dress one day and will have pictures to share on this website!
Next time Tibilisi, I will make sure we are ready for your face control. You think you are so clever, but I have found this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Face_control and have studied how to look more rich, more beautiful and less desperate. And most importantly, next time I will probably just leave Alexei at home!
On the plus side of this day, we found a very interesting book on our bed when we got back in that night. Verrrry interesting indeed.