Night Life Face Lift

Rhinoplasty at Karlsplatz gives Vienna clubbing a make-over

On The Town | Mark Hamilton | February 2013

Nothing is sacred at this cult drag party that rejects all things “Cool” (Photo: Daniel Gottschling)

It’s a late Saturday night as Vienna commuters descend into the Künstlerhauspassage at Karlsplatz to find themselves surrounded by flamboyant revellers. They are on their way to Rhinoplasty, one of the city’s least-secret parties. A quartet of bearded men dressed as Valkyries, with neon braids, hold court in front of Club-U – Top-40 hits and cheesy dance music emulating from the darkened windows of one of Otto Wagner’s 1898 grand U-Bahn Pavilions. Unlike other clubs, however, the crowd is posture-free – Vienna’s drag queens, artists, queers, fashion victims and hipsters join together in the spirit of a good time for all.

Rhinoplasty transforms the drab Club-U into a welcoming, all-inclusive space. Looped film clips from the grisliest bits of Death Becomes Her fill a wall-size screen next to the DJ booth, where Verena Rosner and Leonhard Oberzaucher turn down requests and play whatever they want.

Dragged out hosts Andy Rhinoplasty Reiter, Dutzi Bullard-Ijsenhower and Marius Alexis Carrington Lagerfeld Valente are the dress-code compass, decked out in the party’s atypical themes. Nothing is sacred: Last summer, Rhinoplasty commemorated the anniversary of the Love Parade disaster, all three decked out as zombie ravers with footprints on their sparkled faces. Subsequent evenings followed themes inspired by the baby photograph of Anne Geddes to the impending Mayan apocalypse through a heavy metal lens.

"We wanted a place to just have fun without the seriousness of going out – you know, standing around trying to look cool and bored in the hopes to impress people we didn’t talk to anyway," says Reiter. "We wanted a place to dress up and be silly, a queer place open for everybody and a safe zone with a little bit of London spirit."

Having met one another on FM4’s gay-themed message board FMQueer, the move to Club-U followed the growth of the group’s home-grown parties into a bigger beast than originally intended. "The party exists because Andy’s apartment became too small and his speakers too weak for our needs," reflects Oberzaucher.

But that’s not to say the feeling of an ever-expanding circle of friends getting together to celebrate good times has gone. Rhinoplasty advertises via Facebook and SMS announcements. Oberzaucher puts it simply, "I want friends and friends of friends to come, and everyone else who is willing to make it a safe space for friends and friends of friends to outlive themselves." And every Rhinoplasty the room is packed – to the point the party is even mentioned in TimeOut’s latest guide to Vienna as a "not-to-be missed" experience.

"We do this first and foremost for our pleasure," says Reiter, "not just being touristy and watching the proceedings like in a zoo." And that pleasure is easily spotted in the larger-than-life outfits of the "Rhinos" themselves, who walk the dusty escalator from the U-Bahn platform a level below like a red carpet.

But most refreshing is the way Rhinoplasty rejects all the notions of "Cool with a capital-C", while creating Vienna’s coolest night out. "It’s not a party for people to stand around," Reiter instructs. "We play a lot of silly music, dress in ridiculous costumes and make like we’re the royalty of MTV – in an old café in a subway station."

For Oberzaucher, the distinction is even easier to make. "Unfortunately, cool is simply not cool enough for Rhinoplasty."


Next date: 9 Mar.

Club-U, Otto Wagner Pavilion 

4., Karlsplatz, Künstlerhauspassage

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