Winner of our 2013 Best of Warsaw award for ‘Best Late Night’, the triumph of S&S is, in some ways, surprising. After all, it’s not your standard club – in fact, it’s not really a club. Neither is it really a bar, nor a restaurant – even though, at different stages of the day, it fills just such roles. In fact, working out just what it actually is is a complex affair. Defining Sztuki & Sztuczki is no easy task. Visit one night and you’ll find a studious audience hushed and focused on some art house film. On another, discover a high energy crowd heavily engaged in DJ worship. The entertainment program here is varied and diverse, but through that one thing is clear: S&S has been a huge success.
Opened late last year by the creators of Cud Nad Wisła, there’s much to appreciate here. Set in a covert courtyard basement, the idea was to ‘merge elements of the 60s with now.’ To meet this end designers Kacper and Jan Gronkiewicz were recruited, and their interior is raw, uncomplicated and strangely beguiling. Visitors negotiate a maze of narrow corridors, nooks and corners, with meanderings to the leviathan, boat-shaped bar taking in concrete floors, naked brickwork and vaulted ceilings. Visually speaking, you wouldn’t call it incredible, but it is a marvelous usage of the available space – people linger to appreciate the atmosphere.
The drinks front is also capable and noteworthy. The beer list offers a jumble of exemplary brews, among them the outstanding Grimbergen, while cocktails are novel and largely ravishing. And of course, it helps that enjoyment of them is done on ultra-cool seats designed by Pierre Favresse.
But Sztuki’s most attractive quality is the people themselves. Their normalcy is refreshing – this isn’t a collection of sullen plastic models and gurning wannabe’ Latino dudes, nor is it a painful assemblage of idiotically decorated hipsters. The people are fashion aware but not fashion victims. It’s a place where individuality thrives. The music is integral to attracting such people, and as such find a schedule that encompasses everything from jazz tributes to improv nights to club nights to hilarious swing meets. That it flourishes is good news indeed.