In a cobbled backstreet in the heart of Zurich’s medieval Old Town, a bunch of beatniks is celebrating the centenary of a club which changed the course of modern art. On 5 February 1916, Cabaret Voltaire introduced Dada to an unsuspecting Swiss public. A hundred years later, the cosy nightclub where this revolutionary movement was born is still up and running.
Absurdist and anarchic, Dada was a form of expression like no other. It revolutionised every art form, from painting to poetry, music to dance. Its subversive attitude spread beyond Switzerland, to Paris, Berlin, and New York – but this is where it started. So, how did this staid city become the centre of Europe’s avant-garde?
During the First World War, neutral Switzerland was a safe haven for artists and intellectuals who were desperate to escape the carnage of the trenches. Lenin, Einstein and James Joyce all ended up in Zurich, amid