Brawling and Boozing in Vienna’s Bare-knuckle Dive Bars
Only a pig drinks alone. http://slate.me/1ZUVOPi
- •Some of the saltiest old dives in the world can be found in Vienna.
- •There’s a bar for every breed of thrifty alcohol enthusiast.You’ll find nothing but hard liquor at the “Branntweiner.” The same goes for beer at the “beisln”, or wine at the “weinstuben.”
- •Bar owners rule their establishments like little fiefdoms. Disagreements usually end in fistfights.
- •For decades, these bars teemed with working-class Viennese grabbing a quick beer or three over lunch.
- •But now, with their elderly patrons beginning to die off, the dive bars of Vienna are also facing their final days.
- •Journalist Clemens Marschall used to sweep the streets outside these popular drinking spots, and he was fascinated by their “rough spirit.”In 2012, he began a project with photographer Klaus Pichler to document the dwindling number of dive bars.
- •Pichler could also sense that an era was ending.“It is a part of ‘old’ Vienna [that] is about to die out,” he said, “a time of working-class people being proud of being working-class people, a time of quick beers at lunch break, of shady crooks acting as gentlemen, of hard-earned nicknames and human legends with strange habits. … Now it just exists in stories and a few places where one can get a feeling of how those times might have felt.”
- •Their book, “Golden Days Before They End”, is a celebration of the unique culture of these Viennese institutions — but it’s also a eulogy for the human casualties of economic progress.“For some people, these bars are literally the last shelter and much more than just drinking places,” says Marshall. “[T]his is their family where people still support each other in their way. If those places are all gone, what are they gonna do?”