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If Dogs Run Free Fantasy realm featured

Prepare to have a sore neck after leaving this bar… because you’ve spent the night craning it up at the upside-down peaks installed on the ceiling. The space below is as minimalistic as it comes with an asphalt floor and plastered walls, nothing to detract away from the ceiling, an oft under-appreciated space but here, the spectacle. Created under the theme Mensch und Natur, the installation is supposed to be the first in a series, all constructed to spark conversations about art and design. Co-owned by an actress, a restaurateur, a graphic designer and two architects, it’s easy to see why they settled on such creative themes.

While the name itself should strike a chord with Bob Dylan fans, it leaves others confused, and once some of the bar’s potent cocktails have been imbibed, the existential “what ifs” and guessing games begin—just what IDRF wanted. One of the forerunners of modern cocktail culture in Vienna, the bar has an unwavering commitment to booze, providing an impressive list of classic and inventive drinks that get you drunk but in style. Just make sure the ceiling doesn’t distract from watching where you’re walking.

Grelle Forelle Earplugs at the ready featured

The Danube Canal was already a summer-time party hotspot but Grelle Forelle has taken it to an entire new level, single-handedly taking the upper-crust Viennese nightlife scene and vigorously shaking it until it’s back to being a scruffy, young party-mad lil’ upstart. Grelle Forelle abandons all pretence. No photos, no guestlists and definitely no private tables. Instead, a soundsystem of eardrum-perforating strength, maximum cred lineups and a committed crowd going long and hard. Who said Vienna was just about sophistication?

Ost Klub Where the Balkan begins

Vienna has always had a unique position as a meeting point between the west and the east.Prince Metternich once said “the Balkans begin at the Rennweg (a large street running east out of Vienna)”, this is perhaps even more true of today’s Vienna than it was in Metternich’s time.

Established in 2005, Ost Klub has staked itself as the quintessential viennese venue, where, you guessed it, East meets West. Nestled in a side street by Schwarzenbergplatz, Ost Klub is a maze of interconnecting rooms falling over two floors, dominated by Balkan sounds fusing together with western musical styles such as ska, dub, blues and rock. Host to a series of festivals including the Balkan Fever Festival, an eclectic range of artists and guest are on regular weekly rotation.

If you want to dance up a storm, weekends are the best bet, as for a more chilled out experience there’s Monday’s piano klub, with only the top bar open. But stumble in on Tuesdays for the funk magnificent ‘Jam Session’ hosted by Big John Whitfiled, with guests performing the cooleset of cool cover tunes this side of Memphis, and where you, blessed with musical talent, may take to the stage to jam it up. Cover charges apply, but it’s worth the entry. Bring your bongos, or your best poker face for Wiener Balkan-Poker hosted on Mondays through to Wednesdays.

Arena Cultural abattoir

A former slaughterhouse, Arena is one of the city’s biggest live venues, with a mad mix of established and underground acts playing under the same alternative umbrella. Four separate areas host artists as diverse as Seal, Dinosaur Jr., Roison Murphy and Helmet. Even good old J.B. (James Brown) made one of his last live performances here.

Not forgetting its d.i.y. (do-it-yourself) origins as a former squat, it still supports grass roots indie events that attract niche audiences. Goths, punks and graffiti crews have been known to travel from as far as Italy and Sweden to attend, perform and/or participate in these one-off made-to-order events. Apart from live shows the Arena presents film screenings, spoken word events and theatrical presentations.

Mon Ami With you

A former pet care salon, Mon Ami has catered to a different kind of wild animal since opening in 2007. The small lifestyle emporium is outfitted with a bar, music shop and fashion studio to provide a panacea for all primal needs—a place to cure thirst, hunger, art, music, social exchange, creativity, warmth…well, you get the picture.

Plush sofa chairs are easy to sink back into, especially when grabbing a drink or a bite to eat—crusty pita sandwiches and soups (gluten-free and based on the five elements) are advisable picks. Come for the ambiance, or come for the chill-out grooves on Wednesdays at the Friendly Circle evening, hosted by the DJ-collective Groovebox.

Porgy & Bess Jazz is the space

A modern live music venue where the sound and light concepts actually matter, is not as common as it should be. Aware of this, Porgy and Bess, the jazz and music club, made it their goal to create a contemporary performance space for jazz music—one that was able to transform according to the dictates of the music.

Additionally, there is a CD shop and internet cafe, a gallery, a restaurant and three bars (two in the lower level and one on the balcony). If that was not enough, below the stage there is also a rehearsal room and a sound studio, which allows professional recording for on- or off-stage productions.

While featuring local and international jazz artists like Bobby Previte, Kenny Wheeler, Django Bates, Eliott Sharp and Martin Siewert, there are also some cross over collaborations with electronica experimental label, Charihzma. On the weekends there are soul and funk DJ sessions.

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