After Dark: The Retro Pavillion

Techno Café makes Tuesday Vienna’s weekday night out

On The Town | Margaret Childs | June 2012

Daytime at the outdoor area of the ‘50s-style Pavillon off Heldenplatz (Photo: Volksgarten Pavillon)

Tuesday used to be a boring night in Vienna. Other than Thursdays, which were always "gay night", Fridays and Saturdays were the only days to party. Not that you necessarily want to party hard during the week, but it’s nice to have a place to gather and bump into people you know, as one does so often in this city.

"Pavillon" is just such a place. Situated directly next to the infamous club Volksgarten, the ‘50s-style hangout is a masterpiece of mod-retro, a haven for progressive nostalgia. On fair-weather afternoons under the shade of the surrounding trees, the Pavillon serves a fresh assortment of Viennese and Mediterranean eatables, and five nights a week, excepting Wednesdays, it becomes a club, but most notable is Tuesday’s Techno Café.

On any summery Tuesday evening, outside the iron gates on Heldenplatz, the oscillating crowd is a colourful mixture of ages, persuasions and body types. Yes, there are the artsy neo-hippies and the budding intellectuals from the Uni Wien, but also bankers, lawyers, and official "suits", alongside writers, photographers and the occasional "Promi". Once we noticed a few parliamentarians having spritzers and lunch next to a heavily pierced tattoo artist, who then kindly offered to light the MP’s cigar. Despite, or perhaps because of, the heterogeneous mixture, most people end up seeing someone they know – case in point Vienna.

Inside, the place is almost always packed, but the venue is versatile. On hot days the outside crowd disperses onto the stony terrace, underneath the bright orange awning, or amongst the trees outside. Patrons sit at metal tables with authentically charming fixed lamps surrounded by small pools and greenery. Down some stones steps past a giant barbecue smoker, you cross the "yard" where daytime patrons play boule. At the far end of the outdoor space, a porch swing and a few more tables encompass a final bar area, slightly hidden from view, and simplistically romantic.

By daylight, the Pavillon offers a relaxed spot for breakfast (until 14:00 on weekends), or an afternoon selection of Antipasti (€7.80). When the sun goes down, DJs take over the decks and play a medley of electronic, techno, drum ‘n bass, and Latin beats, as the smell of barbecue fills the air. Day and night fare is affordable and after dark, the Steckerlfische beat anything from the Würstelstand.

When the club is not overfull, the atmosphere is like a backyard away from home: friends sitting around the lit tables, mingling, laughing, munching, glasses clinking and all the while, there is someone to tend the barbecue and provide the drinks. When the club is brimming – which is often the case on Tuesdays – it’s a recipe for claustrophobia.

Some think the décor is kitschig, and perhaps it is. But the charm of the Volksgarten Pavillon is partly the here and now. Only open in summer and only on warm, dry days, there are just those few months of evenings before the gates close again. And we have to think of something else to do with our Tuesday nights.¸

1., Volksgarten Pavillon

Open Apr. through mid-Sept.

Mon.-Fri. 11:00-2:00

Sat., Sun. 10:00-2:00

(01) 532 0907

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