As winter descends on Vienna, outside events and autumnal street festivals come to a close and
life begins to move inside. As discussed in a previous post, Vienna is a great place to be in the warm
summer months because of the large number of festivals and concerts.
Fortunately this reputation for lively locations and entertainment is equally well-represented by the cities extensive family of clubs and concert venues. They fill up in the winter as people seek to escape their homes and warm themselves by the light of flashing strobes and the kinetic energy of scores of happy dancers.
Many of the famous clubs in Vienna are well-represented online and often over-priced and over-filled with 18 year olds (obviously I’m getting old!), so I have tried to make a list of some of my own favourite places to go out.
So leave your winter jacket and hat at the coatcheck, exchange your snow boots for dancing shoes and check out some of these special and unique night clubs in Vienna!
Clubs along the Gürtel
One of the best places to start if you’re not sure exactly what vibe you are looking for is the Gürtel (belt). Along the stretch of the belt road that surrounds the inner city, the bars and clubs along the stretch of road through the 17th and 16th Districts offer a diverse and unique selection of clubs in close proximity which make it easy to hop from one to another (even better during the nights of the “Gürtel Connection,” when you pay only one entrance price for all the clubs.)
Chelsea is a famous and historic punk/rock venue which now hosts all kinds of music and dj events, and has retained its grungy and rough style over the years. Opposite is The Loft, a popular spot for dancing to house and techno in a sweaty, grimy basement dance hall, if thats your thing!
With less of a heavy club vibe and more similar to small venues with cozy bars attached, these two locations are known for their friendly bartenders, unpretentious attitudes and diverse music events.
People are coming here more for the dancing and positive energy rather than all-night hook-up partying, which makes them easy and fun places to go out.
If you’re looking for something slightly different in the same neighborhood, Fania Live is a Latin/World Music club that hosts live concerts by some spectacular bands and also internationally-themed DJ sets, and matches B72 and Kramladen with it’s calm and friendly vibe and patrons.
Legendary (and welcoming) clubs
One of the hottest places to go out in the Viennese gay scene is Whynot, a massively popular club in the 1st District. Open since 1980, the club is a founding member of Vienna’s gay nightlife and helps to keep the party going on the street at the annual Pride Festival.
The attitude in Whynot is always energetic and friendly, with a mix of club beats and cultural classics for people to sing their hearts out to.
Another legendary club is the U4 in the 12th District, more famous for its playlist of hits, R&B and hiphop than heavier techno or club music. Fitting in with the down-to-earth vibe of the other un-fancy clubs in the city, U4 seems to be one of those places that you end up stumbling into early in the morning to find the place packed wall-to-wall with people who would probably also do better to head home to bed!
Flex and Fluc
Two classic clubs that have been popular and beloved in the city for decades are Fluc and Flex. Nestled in an small obscure building that looks like a broken microwave next to the Prater train station,
Fluc expands underground into a long bar and dance space. There is also another bar upstairs on ground level for those looking for a little more space to dance or somewhere to talk. Fluc is much loved by students and an alternative audience for remaining the same grubby amiable venue that it was in the when it opened in 2002.
Music ranges from House music to drum and bass techno, but always host great DJ’s who inspire
an energetic party.
Flex is one of the cities most famous clubs, and was known throughout Europe in the 1990’s as one of the loudest, coolest clubs on the continent. Occupying an unused U-bahn tunnel next to the canal in the 1st District, the wild drug-fuelled party place of 20 years ago has changed a little over the years into something slightly more civilized, but still hosts great concerts ranging from rock to funk to hip hop, and is a popular place to show up at 3 a.m. when you don’t know where else to go but aren’t ready to go home!
Grelle Forelle and Das Werk
A short 10-minute walk north from Flex along the canal brings you to the end of my list and also two of my favourite places to go out. Grelle Forelle has become famous in recent years for hosting internationally-renowned acts and DJ’s playing through one of the best sound systems the city has to offer.
A lot of the time the music is focused on heavier techno, but also has a steady stream of diverse live acts and events. With a wide-open area to dance and a large island bar where you hardly ever have to wait for a drink, it is a great venue to let the loudest, clearest sound in the city wash over you.
Around the corner from Grelle Forelle is Das Werk, an equally well-loved art space, events venue and bar/club that is a little more down-at-heel than it’s popular and hip neighbour. Das Werk is known for its friendliness and community, and has been hosting events and cultural iniatives since 2006.
No matter the music or the theme of the event, the energy at Das Werk is that of a place where you can always feel comfortable dancing to your own beat and being one of a large crowd sharing the same special moment.
Of course, there are many many other clubs and bars to visit in Vienna, each providing something unique that will draw in and entertain visitors and party-goers whatever they are looking for. Vienna is known for it’s Imperial grandeur and luxuriant lifestyle above ground, but under the streets and in the basements, the city shows itself to be just as wild and exciting as any other city.
So find your fancy dance clothes and your most comfortable shoes (that can tolerate some spilled beer and getting stepped all over) and get out there!
Thom Harding was born and raised in the UK and USA, sharing his time between Bath and Boston. Upon completing his studies in Art History and Painting in Florence, Thom travelled around Mexico and India before moving to New Mexico to start his career as a Primary school teacher.
After completing his MA in Education, he now lives and works in Vienna, Austria and enjoys spending his free time hiking, reading, travelling and exploring around Europe.
See more of Thom’s work here in the Dispatches archive.
You can read more about Vienna here in the Dispatches archives.