The Gate Crasher: The Very “Important” People at Alpha

The Gate Crasher takes stock of the Alpha's door policy

On The Town | Peter Falstaff | February 2012

I was just thinking what a boring sod I was becoming, girlfriend, work, colleagues, that sort of thing, when "Something spectacular is coming to Vienna" landed in my inbox. It was a "VIP" invitation to the newest club in town. The place was called "Alpha": the daring candour admirable, I thought at the time, in admitting such a commonplace pretension.

"But we’re on the VIP list," the girl protested, the black points of her eyes locked accusingly onto the doorman through the night.

"So are all the others, lady," he said, carelessly jerking his thumb at the masses jostling in front of the office block style doorway of the Siemens building on Dietrichgasse.

The girl stared back, languorously twirling her hair, her panda eyes smudged already with the stinging despair of shattered illusions: yet another night scrambling for attention on the tiles like all the rest.

"You having a laugh? Get in line like the others," the man tittered, the punch drunk cheer of a man having discovered his new job entails endless encounters with scantily clad drunk girls plastered across his face.

I too was in good spirits. The place looked like the usual mix of hard-face divas and shiny Eurotrash and the VIP list was clearly some kind of disturbed joke, but I hadn’t been to a club for way too long, the girlfriend was out of town and the sustaining Drambuie in my hip flask on the way – Alpha is located way out amongst the labyrinthine side streets and the glaring tenements of the outer 3rd district – was having its delicious effect.

Inside the VIP area, behind the DJ, a lady in a backless corset and white mini skirt brushed past and turned to me. "Not very Alpha," she said, through a ravishing smile, lobbing the words at me like little grenades, before marching off and wagging her derrière.

I lumbered forward a few steps and waved my hand desperately. "Hang on there," I stammered, but my command only hung embarrassed in the throbbing air a moment.

As my eye moved over the sea of orange biceps and blonde hair-extensions in our gated off community on the top level of the industrial scale complex, I mulled over the woman’s comment. How dramatically banal! But, of course I had forgotten in the world of nightclubs, verbal communication is, in itself, meaningless brinkmanship, a pawn in a sexually charged power game: what matters is audacity, status, cool, and if all else fails, volume.

Just as in my pre-boring-sod days, I spied a lone target leaning on the balustrade, looking down at the heaving main dance floor two floors below us. Puffing myself up and flexing the remnants of gym muscles from my time on the pull, I went over. "Awesome, isn’t it?" I said in my huskiest and most rhythmical voice.

She turned to me, fingering her glossy hair, and with the light of almost extinguished hopes and dreams still flickering promisingly in her eyes. I steeled myself to be aloof, to stare back down at the basement, the vaguely threatening beams of light, the DJ bopping enthusiastically to his own music and the murky t-shirted mass gyrating half-heartedly through wisps of artificially generated smoke.

A few seconds longer, and ignition: "You see that skinny guy in a vest outside? I bet he was freezing his rocks off!" (That, believe it or not, has always been my most effective chat-up line). She tittered and played with a few more strands of her hair – how I loved those coy little hints of intimate delicacies to come – and I slipped easily (endless practice at the Passage, when it was still cool) back into my stories and my magic routines and my posing: my starter bag of seducer’s tricks.

Looking back on the night the next day, I reflected that Alpha, despite it’s ambitious title and VIP pretentions, was just the same old story. And, starting to hum merrily, I thought: Thank God for that.

Other articles from this issue

  • Book Review: Football, The Other Viennese School

    Inverting the Pyramid, by Jonathan Wilson; European Heroes: Myth, Identity, Sport, edited by Richard Holt, J.A.Mangan, and Pierre Lanfranchi
    TVR Books | Samuel Goff
  • The Man Who Was Hawelka

    Small, unpretentious, and loveable: Leopold and his café had much in common. After 75 years together, the man is gone. The institution remains.
    Opinion | Ana Tajder
  • Time to Celebrate Some More

    Nights at the Opera: Feb, 2012
    On The Town | Oliver Macdonald
  • I Guess I’m Already There

    Written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, This Must be the Place portrays an aging rock star’s search for meaning, connection, family, a home, a purpose, a Nazi SS officer, and a phone booth
    On The Town | Valerie Crawford-Pfannhauser
  • All articles from this issue

    the vienna review February 2012