Vienna's Got Balls
BY Matthew Breen
January 11 2012 4:00 AM ET
Also near the Naschtmarkt is the official center of LGBT life, the Rosa Lila Villa (Villa.at), the gay and lesbian center. It's a good place to pick up the local gay publications and take a look at fliers for club nights, parties, and other, more earnest gatherings. It's also a good spot for women to find events, because offerings for gay men outnumber those for lesbians.
Nightlife often begins with a coffee, beer, or cocktail at Café Savoy (Savoy.at), a café in the grand, traditional Viennese style. From Café Savoy, many head to Village Bar (Village-Bar.at), a small but reliable video bar, or Felixx (Felixx-Bar.at) an ambient cocktail lounge with theme nights. Pitbull (Pitbull-Clubbing.at) is a monthly party for bears and admirers. Younger gays often head to the boisterous Mango Bar, which shares its website with dance club Why Not (Why-Not.at). Another large dance club with weekly parties is Heaven Vienna (Heaven.at).
The Frauencafé (Frauencafe.com) is a trans-friendly women's bar founded by a feminist collective in 1977 and open on weekends, and Marea Alta (Marea-AltaWien.blogspot.com) is a lesbian bar furnished in a flea market style, offering performances, parties, and DJs.
Vienna may be a refined and sophisticated city, but that doesn't mean there's no place for some less genteel action. Fetish and cruising bars with darkrooms include Eagle Bar (Eagle-Vienna.com), Sling (Sling.at), and others. The city isn't squeamish about sex-positive venues, so lists of bars with darkrooms, sex shops, gay cinemas, and bathhouses are easy to find on gay city maps and at GayNet.at.
Art abounds, but for one-stop shopping the Museumsquartier (MQW.at) has no rival. One of the largest complexes for modern art and culture in the world, it contains the Leopold Museum (which displays the works of Austrian modernists Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt), the MUMOK (Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation Vienna), and the contemporary dance space Tanzquartier, and it hosts numerous festivals. But art is everywhere, from imperial public works to modern pieces. Even my hotel, the new Levante Parliament (TheLevante.com), incorporates a gallery exhibiting glasswork by Romanian artist Ioan Nemtoi.
Vienna is also a centrally located starting point for day-tripping. On a weeklong trip in the autumn of 2011, my Austrian beau and I visited Bratislava, Slovakia, just a 45-minute drive away; the picturesque Austrian cities of Salzburg and Graz, and Hungarian metropolis Budapest, which shares Vienna's imperial heritage, are all just two hours' drive. While I wouldn't suggest one needs a local paramour to properly see the sights, if you're looking for one, this romantic capital is a capital place to look.