Ordering a Cosmo at THE Dada Bar

Maybe only I appreciated the irony of ordering a pedestrian drink at the bar where the Dada art movement was born. The bartender just looked at me and said no. Instead I found myself with plum wine and prosecco in a champagne flute and my visiting sister got a green absinth specialty of the house.

A green drink inside the Dada bar

The Dada art movement began in a second floor bar, Cabaret Voltaire, located on Neiderdorfstrasse in Zurich, Switzerland. The idea of Dadaism as anti-art began as a reaction to the bourgeoisie during World War I. The concept was anti-art. Sculptures were supposed to cause shock and discomfort with the viewer, a giant Mr. Yuck sticker in the mind of the audience. Probably the most famous piece of the Dada art movement is the urinal fountain but the Dada artists did not limit themselves to only visual arts.

Artist Tristan Tzara on using chance to write poetry.

“Take a newspaper.
Take some scissors.
Choose from this paper an article the length you want to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Next carefully cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them all in a bag.
Shake gently.
Next take out each cutting one after the other.
Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.
The poem will resemble you.
And there you are–an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.”

The obvious question is, why would pulling words out of a hat make a good poem? I don’t really know. From what I read, Dadaists were interested in what the subconscious pulls out of the poem. It is interesting to see what people read into things given their own biases and experiences. Does this mean online message boards are the ultimate in Dada art?

Go to Cabaret Voltaire for the electric atmosphere and little bit of history. It is worth the visit. Just don’t bother trying to order a Cosmo. 😉


About megan

working in between travel days
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3 Responses to Ordering a Cosmo at THE Dada Bar

  1. Sarah M. says:

    I kind of want to try to make a poem that way.

  2. In a painting class in college, we performed this act per Tzara. In an English 102, in honor of Breton, we were sent into the world to perform an act of Dada. My act – determined by me – was to walk into an elevator last in a busy office building (The Seattle Public Library, actually) turn to face those before me who nervously faced the flickering lights of the floor change… I don’t know that the former made for a good poem, or the latter, a thought provoking act that inspired fellow elevator-goers to consider random acts of absurdity. But these two assignments caused exactly two things within *me*: the beginning of long and certain fascination with DADA and the Surrealist movement, and a conversation piece over plum wine and absinthe at Cabaret Voltaire with my lovely sister ten years later. Gsundheit!

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