Many seaside resorts have become hard to reach, and the temperature increases the demand for vacations near the water – and Muscovites rushed to the resort islands in their hometown.

Most of our water surface is concentrated in the northwest, where the Moscow River flows into the capital. In addition, the river water there has not yet been badly spoiled by city drains and garbage, so the main part of the Moscow Riviera is located between the Leningrad Highway and Marshal Zhukov Prospekt. But small “sanitary-resort zones” are scattered everywhere. And these tiny pieces of beaches, shady alleys of parks, entertainment promenades are increasingly affecting the overall appearance of the city.

Sociology of the city beach

The basic format is a public city beach. The largest, it seems, is Levoberezhny on the Khimki reservoir not far from the Moscow Ring Road, between Khovrino and Belomorskaya. On the opposite side of the city, in Kotelniki, there is the Lyubertsy quarry with unexpectedly picturesque views. In the southwest there is a beach on Lake Meshcherskoe. There are smaller bathing places in almost every city park with a pond. And, of course, the classic of the genre is a chain of beaches in Serebryany Bor.

What happens on the beach is familiar to everyone to the aching feeling of a child. Tanned volleyball players. Adults and children throw plates to each other or beat shuttlecocks. Reclining on towels, sleepy girls eat ice cream and watermelons. The stalls smell of inevitable smoke and shish kebab (400 rubles per serving on average). And at the water’s edge in a cloud of splashes, happy children’s laughter hangs. Someone with a guitar in the shade of a willow sings a classic:

Again the shadow obliquely
Red shore with a strip of silt
I’m ready to kiss the sand
which you walked.

Surprisingly, most Moscow public beaches are relatively clean. The authorities have installed colorful trash cans, and they are, of course, overflowing. But in the grass and on the sand there are almost no cigarette butts, plastic glasses, broken bottles and everything that was strewn about twenty years ago.

Free city beaches are similar. There are differences, but they are small. A relatively centralized service has been established in the northwestern “riviera” and in Serebryany Bor. In pretty wooden pavilions with verandas, there is a queue of people in flip flops for fragrant meat on skewers. And in Kuzminki thick smoke spreads over the ponds. Hundreds of one and a half private barbecues are smoking among the pines. Almost everywhere the same beach demographics. The third part of vacationers are families with children. The rest are dominated by gender-homogeneous companies. Boys with boys, girls with girls. There are couples, of course, but they are few.

If you move away from the numbered beaches of Serebryany Bor towards the Bottomless Lake, the legendary Moscow nudist beach begins. It is not immediately distinguishable from the ordinary one – about half of the vacationers are in swimming trunks. But here and there tanned nudists stick out of the grass like steppe jerboas. At the entrance to the naked part, fit pensioners play volleyball. A red flag with a hammer and sickle hangs on the grid. Among those who like to swim naked, the bias in favor of men is immediately evident. Women are quite rare, and nudes are an exception. Of the ten naked volleyball players, only one, judging by the white stripe, wears a bikini in everyday life. Yes, and she, unlike partners, in panties, apparently, therefore plays better than others.

A higher social tier is formed by beaches equipped with gazebos, sunbeds and deck chairs. Many of them are formally free, but there are no “savages” at all. Perhaps laying a towel on the grass between the beach furniture seems out of place. In Serebryany Bor on such a beach, gazebos rent from 10 to 22 thousand – but for a company of up to 15-16 people. You involuntarily notice that among the pavilions, the proportion of toned, tanned bodies with beautiful tattoos is much higher than between towels on a free beach.

There are, of course, completely paid beaches and baths. For example, an open water complex in Luzhniki. A ticket for four hours will cost 2,450 rubles on weekdays and 2,850 on weekends (350 and 500 rubles for children, respectively). It is not possible to swim quickly here, however. There are too many people in the pool. From the outside, it looks more like a Jacuzzi: it’s cramped and the water is bubbling. But you can go to the sauna – there the temperature is even a little higher than on the street. There are many families with children and the same number of couples. Looks like Baywatch, but without the ocean in the background. Vacationers are (mostly) athletic and pretty looking.

Opened with pomp, the beach on the embankment of the Northern River Station is formally free. Rather, they take money not for entry, but for accommodation. But a lot. A standard sunbed will cost 1,000 rubles on weekdays and 1,500 on weekends, a hammock – 2,000 and 2,500 rubles. A round bed for two persons or a chaise longue bed with a canopy for four cost 6,000 rubles per person (7,000 on weekends). Of these, 1000 rubles (on Saturday-Sunday – 1500) will go to rent the bed itself, and the rest will go towards the mandatory deposit, which you need to walk in the bar for a day of rest. Change will not be returned. And these are prices for half a day. Fares with no time limit are even higher. And with all this, a line stretched out in front of the entrance to the beach, and on a chalk board, handwritten in beautiful handwriting: “No places” – and three exclamation marks. A girl in a strict uniform advises to book beds in advance.

Rechnoy Beach faces the widest part of the Moscow Canal. They bathe here, however, not in river water, but in three pools located directly on the pontoons, under which the water of five seas gently splashes. But the view is really beautiful. There are high-rise buildings on the other side of the canal, and if you squint, you might think that this is some suburb of Dubai. Only the wires of power lines remind us that this is our homeland. But the people in the bar and on the beds and deck chairs arranged on the stitched pontoons of the Rechnoy beach are really like in a good resort. Young couples predominate. Girls, as a rule, are younger than their gentlemen. But both of them are fit, tanned, pumped up and tattooed. Beauty, like almost everything in our world, participates in commodity exchange, and its concentration increases as it rises along the social pyramid.

On the water surface under the power lines, yachts sway on the waves. A kilometer to the south is the Royal Yacht Club and the Vodny restaurant, which descends in a cascade of elegant terraces directly to the dark water of the canal. They don’t swim there, but the menu has a lot of traditional sea dishes for the resort. Chilean sea bass for 1290 rubles or octopus with potatoes and salsa for 2190 rubles with a glass of Italian white Cervaro Castello della Sala. Marchesi Antinori (18,900 bottles) are waiting for fans of Arkady Novikov’s restaurants.

The resort as a city model

But it is not the beaches themselves that leave the strongest impression, but, for example, the promenade of the embankment of the Northern River Station. Its soaring aerial spire and striking architecture alludes to the cypress surroundings of Yalta, Sochi or Sukhumi. But everything around seems to be neatly cut out of a postcard with a view of the resort town. On the white-hot embankment, there are pavilions with the Seafood Fair and ice cream parlors. Artificial streams are drawn between the tiles, which seem to follow the contours of the canals connecting Moscow with the Volga, and it with the White Sea Canal. But the water murmurs and sparkles in them so that there is no doubt that you are in the south. Cruise boats depart from the pier every now and then, which will take you to Khimki and back for 350 rubles.

A neatly trimmed lawn goes up from the embankment, framed on top by white fences with a pot-bellied picket fence under the columns. Wide stairs rise to the shady alleys of the park. And the promenade on the embankment and the alleys are not bare space at all. They were created not to move, but to stay and are filled with a wide variety of things. Cafes spill out with tables, wicker chairs and sun loungers. Street furniture is not at all like ordinary boring city shops. It’s almost sofas. They are not here to cope with fatigue, but as in the living room – for conversations and bliss. The park has an amphitheater for meetings or chamber concerts, pavilions and pavilions for intellectual games and a summer cinema.

Lots of sports around. Parking for bicycles, scooters. People on roller skates. Runners. Someone trains on horizontal bars. And all this is not isolated from the eyes of vacationers, but prudently embedded in the very fabric of space. The park has, of course, Wi-Fi and a place where you can charge your laptop or phone. Here you can relax, even while working.

The authors and performers of the reconstruction of the River Station complex managed to accurately convey the atmosphere of the southern resort. Sometimes it seems that they simply circled around a site of some Black Sea town and did Ctrl + C – Ctrl + V, placing it in the middle of Moscow high-rise buildings. This, of course, luck, but not unique. In recent years, the Moscow authorities have been consciously and consistently pursuing a similar strategy for transforming urban space. The easiest way to verify this is simply by looking into any park. Everything will be very similar. Signs and stands with information about the local flora and fauna turn an ordinary walk into an excursion. In any park, from Neskuchny Garden to Kuzminki, typical “southern” cafes are open. Everywhere there are pictures of “public sports”, pavilions for seminars, amphitheaters, unexpected libraries and pavilions for chess players.

Urbanist Grigory Revzin writes, which even for specialists was a big surprise – a large-scale turn of the world city to a recently exotic “resort model”. Previously, the city was the center of industrial production, and special “factories of relaxation and pleasure” were created for recreation. In our country, Sochi, Yalta and Essentuki played this role. Workers went there en masse on holidays and ended up in the conveyor of organized recreation. Literally everything served this task – architecture, landscape design, the catering industry, transport, beaches. All this formed a special unique atmosphere of the resort, which was broadcast by films and colorful posters. But it never occurred to anyone to transplant this atmosphere into the distant cities of the northern metropolises. And now, for some reason, she has escaped from her fabulous ghettos and is spreading to the capitals of the world. And Moscow is among the leaders here.

The basis of this process was prepared by economic and social transformations. Moscow is turning from an industrial city into a post-industrial one. The basis of its economy is now the exchange of goods, services, information and impressions. “The main brake on exchange is the cost of trust. Aggressive urban environment increases these costs because it generates aggressive behavior. Accordingly, the resort city, whose environment produces various types of relaxation, reduces these costs to the maximum and massively. This city, of course, is friendly to an unbearable degree, but this is exactly what is required, ”writes Revzin.

The rapid sprawl of resort areas, all these park alleys, green spaces, gazebos, public open spaces perfectly meets the new standards of work, consumption and recreation. And these spheres are increasingly merging together. More and more people who do not have limited working hours. The very concept of “vacation” and “rest” disappears. You can work while running. Or in a pause between a run and a horizontal bar. Even offices that seemed eternal a decade ago are receding. The epidemic has accelerated this process – hundreds of thousands of middle-class people are still working remotely. And if you don’t need to go to the office, then why not work in the park? There you are alone and in public at the same time. There is always (in the warm season) a pleasant “co-working” waiting for you.

The easiest way to understand and feel it is during the exhausting heat in a shady Moscow park. Ideally by the water. Here you can work, looking at the girls in swimsuits and riding cyclists. And when you get tired, eat a barbecue skewer, warm up on the horizontal bar or even take a dip. Obviously, the demand for such “jobs” will only grow. And the city has only two problems with this. We are in dire need of water here. The authorities should think about the creation of new reservoirs. And, most importantly, what to do later, when the earth makes a semicircle in its orbit, and the heat finally gives way to cold? Maybe Sobyanin should think about a network of winter parks with climate control? This thing might be stronger than a tile, not to mention Goethe’s Faust.

Photo: Moskva Agency, Moskvich mag