It kind of makes sense that music and films have largely turned into digital, virtual things lately – they are, in essence, immaterial anyway. The trade in records and DVDs, likewise, has shifted online. But any city, to remain culturally relevant, still needs a few well-stocked record shops.
Play, one of the occupiers of that niche, is located next to the great cultural oasis, St Petersburg State Circus (where non-human animals are forced to perform, so not a recommended place to visit). It was started in 2005 by Bomba-Piter, St Petersburg’s largest record company, which over the years has unleashed crucial local rock, singer-songwriter and classical releases on the world. They occasionally put out records by local favourites like Iva Nova, Markscheider Kunst or Oleg Karavaychuk (as well as lesser luminaries).
Some of these local releases are probably a good enough reason to come out to Play, like the double-LP/double-CD anthology of 1980s new wave band Strannyye Igry. But it has a few shelves of classic Russian LPs (many recently reissued) and CDs (many originals), a fairly massive stock of jazz & prog records, a few 7″s (mostly funk, punk and other good stuff), a scary amount of DVDs with films dubbed into Russian, paraphernalia for vinyl addicts, the lot. Can’t say it necessarily comes cheap (as real-life record shops are also checking stock prices against Discogs), nor does it cater to my very peculiar needs all that well, but I do come home with an occasional piece of vinyl in my beak.