Slow Food, Fast Dancing

The Markterei Lindy hops onto the after-work bandwagon with their new evening event, Tanzerei

The historic grand hall of the Alte Post (Old Post Office) looked like a scene from a musical, its green, cast-iron pillars framing couples twirling about madly as the industrial-age glass roof reverberated with swing music.

I hadn’t even had the chance to take off my jacket when a girl with horn-rimmed glasses and a red dress with white polka dots came up to me. “Do you want to dance?” At first I was flattered – it was surely a response to my rakish good looks… Then I looked around: almost no men. In fact, male dance partners are a rare species at Markterei’s new Lindy-hop dance event, Tanzerei. But I hardly minded. Along with everyone else, I was ready to shift gears on a Saturday night, to make room for the famous jazz- age dance style named after Charles Lindbergh’s (“Lucky Lindy”) little “hop” over the Atlantic.

© Christina Karagiannis

It was about 18:30 and the hall was well-filled with hipsters – those sardonic, irony-appreciating 20-something cool kids of the now – dressed to the nines to appreciate a few nostalgic tunes and try out their latest retro outfits. Deep red lipstick seemed de riguer for these latter-day flappers, while the guys relied heavily on suspenders and flat caps. My grandparents – who cut a mean carpet in their time – would have loved this.

Most of the well-dressed attendees, though, seemed a little dance shy, content to enjoy the spectacle Viennese style, by prying a spot among the wall flowers along one of the long wooden benches, sipping on a Weisser Spritzer and letting the others work up a sweat.

Even as the night proceeded, there was not a lot of turnover on the dance floor; the Lindy hop scene is a very inclusive community, but anyone brave enough to give up their hard-won seat for a corner of the floor already seemed to know everyone else from some previous gathering. Even the DJ has a part-time job as a dance instructor for those who were now two-stepping to his music.

© Christina Karagiannis

Roll over, Strauss

Exploding onto the Vienna scene a couple of years ago, the squealing trumpets, toe-heel steps and constant bouncing of Lindy hop practically force you to loosen up. So this is really the ideal dance to get shy Viennese in the mood to party.

Dance partners constantly change, with girls taking the lead almost as often as the guys. The whole scene actually has a very pleasing, gender-equal and non-committal feeling – which might be one of the reasons why this jazz-age craze captures the millennial zeitgeist so well.

© Christina Karagiannis

Looking at the calendar, I saw I could now attend a Lin­dy-hop event every day of the week; that’s how popular the style has become here, as confirmed by my passing companion in polka dots. It’s an easy sell. Even if you have two left feet, you can always grab a drink and enjoy the show. Tanzerei has no cover charge, and since it starts early, it’s the perfect warm-up before a long Saturday night – or the logical climax to your grocery-shopping afternoon at Markterei. So while busting a move at a farmer’s market might seem weird, remember the golden age of Hollywood, where folks broke out in song and dance just about anywhere – it can help you lose your inhibitions.

While this is Vienna, it doesn’t always have to be the waltz.

Saturdays, 18:00, Alte Post

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