Into the Great Velvet Yonder

Tanzcafé Jenseits’ cheery camp ambiance invites you to go one step too far

On The Town | Binu Starnegg | October 2013

Café Jenseits remains deliciously debauched, albeit now in a safer way (Photo: Tanzcafé Jenseits)

To the untrained eye, Tanzcafé Jenseits looks like just another gentlemen’s club, gone bust when the skin trade moved further out of town. Nestled in a side street, just off Mariahilfer Straße, the dusty drapes and black metal door keep prying eyes out and noise in. During business hours, the only indication that anything is going on inside are the two stern but polite bouncers outside. 

But even in its current incarnation as a trendy and popular disco, Tanzcafé Jenseits (Dance Café Beyond, with resonances of the afterlife) remains deliciously debauched, albeit in a safer, tongue-in-cheek sort of way.


Disco infernal

Visually, not much has changed since Jenseits’ sleazier days; it’s still a mauve velvet jungle, with smudged mirrors and gilded columns catching the low-watt illumination from grimy rhinestone chandeliers. Golden drapes form a canopy above the bar, which plies patrons with moderately priced drinks and cigars for those craving even more stimulation.

The dance floor is probably where the stage was, surrounded by threadbare sofa niches for wallflowers. A seldom-used back room is off toward the restrooms, inhabited only by decrepit 60’s furniture and, on this particular night, a lone writer scribbling madly away at a manuscript, stopping his pen only to get up and refill his glass with claret.

The only real nod to modernity (and recent laws) is a state-of-the-art ventilation system with a glass wall separating the smoking and non-smoking sections, keeping the bar swathed in ominous nicotine fog but the dancing area happily visible.

Two yellowed posters preside over the revelries: Behind the bar like a religious icon, is Marilyn Monroe, Our Lady of Lost Souls. Over by the dance floor, Elvis Presley gazes down, the King benevolently sneering at the unfolding scene.


Beyond the pale

Tanzcafé Jenseits may play its faded charm straight during the week with jazz and soul, but on weekends, it goes where angels fear to tread. Ausweitung der Schamzone (which roughly translates to "pushing the boundaries of taste") practically dares you to dance, testing even a hipster’s well-honed sense of irony.

Never playing Michael Jackson when The Jackson Five will do, it basks in other-worldly unfashionability, ensuring that only the shameless congregate beneath the mirror ball’s glitter.

The place only really gets hopping around 3:00 a.m., when the locals slowly return from more conventional establishments, eager for one last (ill-advised) drink before finally turning in.

As the brave souls on the dance floor attempt to sing along to the Bee Gees in all their falsetto glory, it might indeed feel like you’ve crossed the threshold into the afterlife – but chances are you’re too elegantly wasted to care.

Even if not advertised as such, Jenseits is the perfect after-party locale: Its cheesy appeal is not only more readily understood by the addled mind, but helps to offset the pangs of guilt, desperation and hormones felt by those still awake as dawn draws near. To tackiness and beyond!


Tanzcafé Jenseits

6., Nelkengasse 3

Tue-Sat 20:00-04:00


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