Dani Beck spent several years DJing in Zurich’s indie clubs, such as Abart, before opening his own bar in 2018. He and business partner Nelly Grishenko think it’s one of the city’s most peaceful places to grab a beer.
Black and purple walls, leather bar stools. A highly polished motorbike stands in the corner and guitars gleam in their display cases. This is Kater, where Dani Beck has been serving heavy rock fans since 2018. Former music journalist Dani also regularly mans the DJ booth, playing favourites from bands like AC/DC, Metallica and Rammstein.
Only the music remains the same.
‘It used to be a biker bar called Le Cactus. I DJed here for more than ten years,’ says Dani. Behind him, the walls are covered in black-and-white photos of music legends such as Jimi Hendrix, Bon Jovi and Nirvana.
Bands regularly play here.
‘In 2017, the owner of Cactus asked if I’d like to take it over.’ The former TV presenter thought about it for a while, then said yes: ‘I had loads of ideas for breathing new life into the bar.’
Dani wanted to give the Cactus a fresh start, so he gave it a new name, took on new staff and changed the decor. Only the music should remain the same – rock in all its forms. ‘We keep the music a little softer for the aperitif and after-work crowd, then it gets heavier as the evening wears on,’ says Dani.
Nelly Grishenko joined him in the business in May 2020. She set up the Zurich metal bar Ebrietas and ran it herself for many years. ‘Working with Dani is great fun,’ she says. She mainly manages the bar staff, while Dani looks after social media, bookings and contact with bands. There is live music at Kater almost every week.
‘The people who come here are amazing!’
Nelly says you don’t have to be a rock fan to work at Kater. ‘Even if you don’t like the music, the people who come here are amazing!’ Dani also loves the fact that rock fans are so laid-back: ‘The music may be hard, but they’re real softies at heart!’ That’s why he and Nelly often carry on partying with their guests after the official closing time: ‘The atmosphere is so great you just don’t want to stop – even when you’re exhausted after a long day.’
Since opening Kater, he has never had to call the police on rowdy guests. ‘Quite the opposite,’ he says. After the Metallica gig at the Letzigrund stadium, Kater was jam-packed. ‘Hundreds of fans gathered outside in the street.’ Dani was afraid the police would come and move them on, but the next day a friend told him they had actually diverted the traffic. ‘Just because so many people were here! That was awesome.’
The small bar attracts an international audience.
Today, the bar is making a name for itself well beyond Zurich, with people travelling from Denmark, the UK and France for its gigs and parties. One woman even flew over specially from Japan. She landed in Zurich in the morning, spent the evening at Kater and flew back the very next day. ‘Totally crazy,’ says Dani.