Wien bei Nacht tour
Vast sections of cities are ill-used by night. Here lies great opportunity, culturally & economically. Let's celebrate the Vienna night, & its dark side. We need cities to work as 24hr places to live. Why do nearly all tours happen during the day? We'll get an insight into the future of night-time in the global city.
Join us for an urban adventure where few groups go. Almost everybody is free at midnight, and yet so few events start much later in the day. We want to explore the difference between day and night in the big city.
Night time is very special - for lovers, party-people, dancers and
artists. Our day may start when others end. One group goes partying
when another community goes to bed. Many work through the night to
support the infrastructure that the rest of us rely on in the day.
Others bake bread or serve food, or have their social media to attend
to, all night & all day. The developing cycles & rhythms of
day/night make for an ever more complex composition. And nighttime
culture is under threat like never before.
Why is it that we only choose to walk around other people’s cities in groups, and not our own? It is very satisfying to join a debate in public space, with an engaged group of citizens - students, academics, journalists, architects - who want to know more, to share stories and exchange ideas and perspectives.
Urban walking is a celebration of public space. And Vienna has world-class public space, though it is sometimes lacking in enough Viennese to really bring it to life.
The night is younger and more diverse than the day. More fun and spontaneous.
It is when lovers get to know each other, when creatives often start to write and develop new ideas. And it is the moment when the city relaxes and gets social.
Vienna’s city-planning is people-centred, and we want to explore this concept on our walk into the darkness. Whoosh uses non-academic language - and humour - to debate serious ideas. We search for new ways of looking at the city, which are just as interesting to long-term residents as visitors (smart city, overtourism, Brexit, smells, human rights, Russian influence, disruptors, and now the night).
Among the questions we will ask:
-which streets are busier than in the daytime, and which quieter?
-why do some people prefer night to day - we will ask them why they are awake so late, on skateparks, at railway stations, on the Donaukanal and also uptown.
-which shops are open at this time?
Michael Häupl protested in 2014 that he did not want people to make comparisons between Vienna and a cemetery, though it sometimes feels that way. For international students, a colourful nightscene is a key reason to choose one university instead of another. Vienna is not a party city, but it still has its scenes, if you go looking for them. Martina Brunner, who campaigned as the N8BM, joined us for the last walk, and has now helped to create the Vienna Club Commission, which is researching and promoting dialogue between the city and representatives of different players on the night scene, from restaurants to club collectives.
We will also look at the different lifestyles of people in old and new parts of the city. All round the world, Vienna is understood to be a quaint, waltzing chocolate cake city, of palaces, dusty museums and horses. But instead of this sweet version of the city, Eugene is more interested in the salty elements of our reality in 2022: the Viennese dialect, Würstlstandkultur, the Street art scene, Gemeindebauten and Cafe am Heumarkt.
For those who do not see the needs of people who want to go out at night as equal to those who want to sleep, think about where you met your last partner, some of the emotional highs of the last year, or your youthful summers, and ask yourself how many of those things happened in the night?
This tour is also a reminder that we should not always think of green spaces when choosing the location for our next walk. It is a cliché to head for nature and relaxation when meeting friends for a walk. Why not instead think of a tour of people, life, urban innovation, and places where we discover community, architecture and new ideas? And in organising a late-night meeting, we want to push the boundaries of what a city tour means, and how it can be recreated.
We’ll be looking at the night-time economy and the sense of place in north central Vienna. Not enough residents realise the value of the night economy – it is almost €2bn. We want to observe how many people are awake, and what they are doing. Not enough cities have a vision for developing & managing their nighttime economy.
So what is our route? We will start – where else! - on Stephansplatz, because tourists go to bed much later than locals. The Innere Stadt is for sure one of the most fun and loud Districts in the country. Then we will visit Bermuda Triangle, Schwedenplatz, then down along colourful Donaukanal.
Vienna is a much more friendly and open city at midnight than midday, which is not true in most other places. And there is much less German spoken in the small hours.
previous nightwalks were a success – in Floridsdorf on placemaking,
the Ugly tour several times, from one end of the Gürtel to the other
for Wir sind Wien fest, a Jane’s Walk on liveability, and a visit
to every district, for the #kommraus
Forum Öffentlicher Raum from Zollergasse along Westgürtel on the memorable night the Ibiza scandal collapsed the government, & as part of Vienna Walking Week 2020, from Yppenplatz to Steffl. Indeed that #kommraus tour was so open
and fascinating that it inspired us to repeat this concept more often - we heard the
Eritrean national anthem from 5 men outside Westbahnhof, chatted with
a Würstelstandlerin, with the MA 48 cleaning the streets (who told us the difference between daytime and nighttime trash), a homeless
person, some Eurovision fans, an Iranian skateboarder. Everybody
wanted to talk to us, which was refreshing and unusual in Wien.
The rules that determine city-planning often ignore the length of our day. The practice of planning urban areas is tailored almost exclusively to daytime functions. When the needs of the nighttime are overlooked, it creates significant tension in our town centres.
This is one of the reasons cultural and entertainment venues are struggling in cities around the world. In London, 1-in-3 music venues has closed in the last 10 years, and around half of nightclubs. The same in Amsterdam, because of rising property prices, changing lifestyles in young people, gentrification, and rising intolerance of noise. These trends are echoed everywhere. If these challenges are not addressed in planning, we see that the opposing needs of urban residents at night - those who want to sleep & those who want to go out - are not considered at the same time, making it difficult to cater for both. Growing pressure on living space means residential areas are edging nearer to crowded urban areas, putting residents closer to entertainment uses. We need mixed-use planning, strict guidelines and modern development practices, thus energising our towns & cities. Instead, in practice, it leads to noise complaints and legal conflicts.
Planning for nighttime is frighteningly absent. While many cities need homes for more people, the cultural reasons many of us choose life in cities are under threat. And when we talk about the night here, it starts not at midnight, but 7pm. If buildings are not fit for purpose, or allowed to be constructed without considering their local environment, those that inhabit them are affected.
We need a global, 24hour planning system to ensure we are building better cities for us all, whatever activities we choose to do after 7pm. Many city leaders are developing tools that work through planning. In San Francisco, the city entertainment licensing agency are automatically consulted on planning applications within 100m of an entertainment premises. This includes new housing, office blocks and hotels. In London, music venues are being planned within mixed use developments from the very beginning of the process. In New York, the Mayor has created a Nighttime Ambassador (following the lead set by Amsterdam) to tackle a host of issues including burdensome regulations for licensed operators. Vienna’s Wien Gibt Raum is an exciting and dynamic tool to smooth the process of applying to this notoriously bureaucratic city to create a new event in public space. A one-stop-shop to digitally get permission to make your dream come true.
This tour is one of 16 projects we are calling Vienna Walking Week, to open up new forms of travel, inside your hometown. 30 July - 6 August 2021.
Eugene loves the city at night (he is dj and insomniac), and wants to show you why. This will be a party walk. The night is full of possibilities, the atmosphere more bohemian. We at Whoosh love hot summer nights. Let’s go for a proper, deep adventure into the dark side.
Meet point: outside Stephansdom 1010 (U1/3 Stephansplatz)
End point: Donaukanal
Nightwatchman: Eugene Quinn
No registration is needed (or possible) for any of our walks – just come along and join us. There is no maximum size to the group, so relax, it will not be sold out.
Eugene made interviews about this tour concept for both FM4 Morningshow & Oe1 Leporello in July 2020.
Wir freuen uns sehr über die finanzielle Unterstützung der Wirtschaftsagentur Wien und über die Förderung von Wien Tourismus, der Mobilitätsagentur und diversen Mediengruppen (inklusiv ORF). Außerdem sind wir stolz, dass wir in die Initiative Reparatur der Zukunft aufgenommen wurden, eine Kooperation von Ö1, Forum Alpbach, Ars Electronica und Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien.