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An historic institution of bohemian flair and surrealist imaginings, Zurich’s Cabaret Voltaire ensconces the art world, Dada movement, club vibes and even its own brand of Absinthe in a space of rebellion and dancing. It seems Switzerland’s not so neutral after all.
The arrival of Cabaret Voltaire was announced in a local newspaper one day in 1916 and within its walls the surrealist art movement, Dadaism, first came to life. Formed as a reaction against the horrors of the First World War, the Dada movement sought to satirise the society that had let such destruction happen and in doing so, tore apart the rule book.
Challenging everything down to what was established as art, the club became a roaring icon of artistic change and saw refugee creatives flock there from all over Europe, paving the way for names such as Dali and Duchamp to enter the art world’s psyche.
Today, Cabaret Voltaire remains a busy hub of creative encounter, serious club nights, literary talks and local concerts, an established veteran of Zurich’s cool scene that isn’t going anywhere.
Wander in at its classic cobbled front and order the favourite, a Dada-Sour – a gin-sour finished with a vapor of Mansinthe Absinthe. Squinting into the fireplace with this in hand, you’ll almost be able to see the old stage back where it once was.
For the peckish amongst you, a ‘Brutzelbrot’ is classic Voltaire fare – melted Gruyere or Mozzarella accompanied by seasonal veg and herbs, then sandwiched together with two crusty slices of local artisan bread.