Get Down and Keep it fly at Swingtime

Swingtime adds a touch of class to the after work scene

The timing may vary but, at some point, city dwellers invariably have the same epiphany: The club scene is boring. The epileptic strobe lights, asthmatic smoke machines, disproportionate expenses (€10 or more at the door, extortionist rates at the bar and not counting the kebab after and cab ride home), the pickup lines screamed over the music; what felt exhilarating and mature in your early 20s seems tedious and juvenile by the time you hit 30-something. It’s enough to plunge you into a quarter-life crisis.

But no worries; you’re not over the hill quite yet, simply moving on to saner pastures. This won’t keep you from Swingtime at Volksgarten, a monthly event that puts a sophisticated spin on the classic weeknight out.

Ostensibly an after work club without the annoying midnight curfew, Swingtime capitalizes on the retro charm of electro swing – think Duke Ellington-style big band, pared down and set to a more contemporary, danceable beat – popularized by the Lindy Hop dance revival a few years ago. However, Swingtime needs no complex dance routines, offering a more accessible experience, reinforced with live musicians improvising over the tracks. Instead of beard and undercut sporting millennials busting a move, the Swingtime crowd skews slightly older and more uptown; good conversation will likely get you further than dance floor dexterity.

After recent renovations, the legendary Voga is still one of the city’s more upscale clubs: while fairly conventional inside, their expansive outdoor area has a DJ booth backed by a marble facade and a dance floor flanked on each side by “Hollywood” fountains – water jets inset by colored lights. Just off Heldenplatz across from the Hofburg, Volksgarten just might have the world’s best located backyard.

Swing and Salsa

Outdoors, Swingtime feels like a swanky garden party, with about half the patrons honoring the night’s dress code asking for all-white attire – just enough to maintain the illusion. The only things missing are an open bar and canapés – although there is free popcorn and cotton candy! The rest don business casual, probably straight from the office – like most after work events, a fair amount of networking and water cooler gossip can be overheard, with only the occasional group or couple breaking free to dance.

Inside it’s a different story – if outdoors feels like a garden party, the indoor hall is a veritable Latino inferno. Salsa music blasts from the speakers, and the Salsarya dancing school offers reduced entry to the club if you take part in the trial session for beginners (19:00 – 20:00). They have quite possibly given rise to the spiciest dance floor seen in these parts since the Cuban cultural ambassador La Floridita closed down in 2014. Buoyed by partyers retreating from the evening chill, the scene’s still bouncing well after midnight.

Swingtime caters to several audiences, and manages to reach them all; there’s something for cocktail networkers, retro enthusiasts and hedonists alike, with the salsanistas keeping the temperature at fever pitch for good measure. Add a very reasonable cover charge of €5 before 23:00 (registration required at, and you have the makings of a truly grownup experience. You might even manage to greet the next day without a hangover or ringing in your ears – imagine that, 20-something self.

Sep 21, 19:00, Volksgarten. 1., Volksgarten.

Binu Starnegg
Manila born, Brooklyn bred and a longtime resident of Vienna, Binu Starnegg is currently managing editor for Metropole, where he completes myriad tasks with style and aplomb. Photo: Visual Hub

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