Etmonu G. 6 , Vilnius, Lithuania
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Lithuania has not produced any world-conquering rock bands. In a country where Eurovision is seen as a legitimate career move for chart-toppers this might not be a surprise. One of the countries most popular bands of the early 90s have however left something behind to be remembered by.
Bix Baras is a three-story bar on a corner of the old town and apart from making use of the name, and some minrt press clippings posted on one wall, the link to the band itself is not emphasised. Bix is - if it’s not a contradiction in terms - a sophisticated rock bar. The decorations are a bit rough…but thought has gone into making them so. The ground floor has a small bar to the left as you enter the room. The floor and tables are unvarnished wood and a small stage at the end is used for bands and karaoke on the nights when there is entertainment, more tables when there isn’t. There is also a pull-down screen for matches.
The walls are covered in a muted red plaster, with some abstract designs moulded into it, and a couple of abstract metal sculptures here and there. The brass ventilation shafts snake along the ceiling. Upstairs is more of the same but here there is no bar and the room is divided into two by a number of large beams with rough-woven cloth hanging from them. About two thirds of this room is taken up with standard tables and chairs, while three large, and extremely sturdy wooden pool tables fill the second half. The feeling that is effectively achieved is of a down-to-earth industrial rock bar. You expect some large hairy biker types to fill the place – though I didn’t see any in sight and the staff were all very friendly.
The toilets are in the basement and accessed by a spiral stairs. Like most Lithuanian bars, these could be larger and are completely inadequate for the disabled. They were clean the night we were there and had soap etc. The basement also houses a third floor of the bar. This is different from the others as it is a low-roofed brick affair with a number of arches dividing it. It is also much darker than the upstairs.
Bix has large menu which contains everything from soups to salads, main courses and deserts. These are reasonably priced and are good though not outstanding. The standard Lithuanian beers Svyturys and Kalnapilis are available and there is a huge choice of spirits. Prices are average at about 5Lt for a half litre of beer, and 10Lt for a main course.
When you first visit Bix, you probably think the music will be hard rock or punk. But this is where the popularity of Eurovision raises its head. The hardest or edgiest music you are likely to hear in Bix is U2 in their Achtung Baby days. Which is good, but not what would be playing in a similar bar elsewhere. Having said that, Bix is a party pub and you have a good chance to see live bands. There are also regular club nights, and theme parties. Admission is rarely more than 10Lt, and you might even get a drink thrown in for that.
Bix is a lively spot in the heart of Old Town Vilnius. If you’re looking for sophistication or a lounge atmosphere this is not the place to go. But if you like parties or just want a place to hang out you could do a lot worse.
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