But what the city lacks in beauty it more than makes up for in intensity, which is evident at 20/44, a ramshackle club named for Belgrade’s map coordinates. It occupies a wood-paneled pontoon boat, docked along the Sava River, that is decorated in a style that Milivoje Bozovic, its music director, described as “bordello of ’80s.” Among other retro touches are 17 musty computer monitors stacked like cargo on either side of the cabin.
On a Friday night in April, the D.J. Ivan Zupanc mixed psychedelic rock and spacey disco as strobe lights reflected off a life-size bronze sculpture of John Cleese, while waitresses handed out free shots of rakija, a traditional spirit.
The club’s faded red velvet banquettes are specially packed during the monthly Disco Not Disco party, which often features foreign D.J.’s who play obscure tracks. Recently, Baris K, a D.J. from Istanbul, mined Turkish disco and funk music until 7 in the morning.
“Disco Not Disco is all about playing the oddball,” said Slobodan Brkic, a local D.J. who helped start the party in 2008. “I played a Bosnian folk song three weeks ago, which kind of shocked pretty much everyone.”
With the crowd swaying on their feet, Louie Austen, a 63-year-old jazz singer from Austria, clasped the microphone and belted out a slow, impassioned version of “My Way” à la Frank Sinatra, with a near-perfect American accent. The audience, who switched easily between Serbian and English, went wild.
By RACHEL B. DOYLE JUNE 10, 2010