On the edge of this city, far from tourists and Kremlin intrigues, a "lost generation" of Soviet youth dances to an endangered beat.
"We are different," said a 22-year-old miniskirted woman, known to her friends as "Blondie" after the Western rock singer and her own dyed blonde hair.
They call themselves the tussovshiki , an untranslatable word derived from the Russian slang for "hangout."
"This is our hangout, and that's what we do," Blondie said, waving around the small nightclub before running to the dance floor.
Children of Elite Parents
These young people are mostly the grandchildren of peasants and workers--but their parents are the elite. The parents work in government ministries or in high-level jobs in institutes or factories.
"But we don't want what they wanted," said Elena, 21, a student at one of Moscow's institutes of foreign languages.
"We don't want to just get married and work and have babies and go to bed after dinner," said Elena, stylishly dressed in strand after strand of exotic beads over a hand-knit sweater.
The club, reached by driving 45 minutes from the Kremlin past miles of modern housing projects and empty fields, is small by Western standards.
Place to 'Be Seen'
It has none of the dance floor laser technology of clubs such as New York's Palladium or Paris' La Palace, but the tussovshiki say it is still the best place to "see and be seen."
On most nights the club is crowded with about 300 people. Its large parking lot is half-full with Soviet cars--Zhigulis with Moscow license plates. Unlike foreign-currency discos that are popular with diplomats and tourists, the club accepts only rubles, the Soviet currency.
"We live only for the moment," Elena said. "Because things are going to get worse before they get better.
"We don't care about politics. We just like to come here, but soon even this may be gone."
'Here We Have Fun'
"Politics says this place is a waste of time," said a young graphic artist in a baggy Italian suit. "Here we have fun, tonight, because tomorrow, who knows? It may not be here or open to us."
Already under Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev's strict anti-alcoholism laws, the club has stopped serving alcohol. Bottles of fruit juice and Soviet-manufactured Pepsi littered tables. Smuggled-in bottles of gin, vodka and whiskey were hidden under tables and in womens' purses.
Under a haze of cigarette smoke, sweaty from dancing to the driving beat of disco music with lyrics such as "Dominance, dominance, we are dominant," the youths laughed and mingled.
"We are the lost generation, because they (the government) don't understand us," Elena said. "We know more about the world than they did when they were our age. And we want to see it."
"But it's not possible," said a girl sitting next to Elena. "Even with Gorbachev, they will not open our borders."
Most Soviets are not allowed to travel to Western countries. That privilege is reserved for government officials and state-approved scientists, artists and journalists.
"We are the people without aims or goals," said Masha, a young woman in a high-necked paisley silk dress. "To find the people who still have goals you should go to the youth clubs, where you'll find the 14- and 15-year-olds."
'Live in Greatest Country'
Volodya, 24, wearing a white tennis sweater emblazoned with a gold crest, leaned over and yelled:
"You are wrong. We live in the greatest country in the world. And who wants to go abroad anyway? What can you learn from being in France or Germany or the United States for two days or two weeks?"