CouchSurfer’s Stammtisch

Vienna's CouchSurfing community get together once a month to discuss all things CouchSurfing Vienna Circle: July/Aug. 2012

CouchSurfing Vienna meeting

The CouchSurfing Stammtisch is good for networking, couch or no couch | Photo: D. Reali

It didn’t seem like much at first – a group of 40 people sitting along one side of the entrance to the Beisl Weberknecht, where the European Cup was being projected on the opposite wall. Unfortunately (for some), this month’s Vienna CouchSurfer’s Stammtisch was scheduled during prime football viewing hours. But approaching the bar, it was clear that these five Stammtisch-regulars were chatting away happily enough, despite the ball game.

Every month, Viennese and foreign CouchSurfers meet at a location to be announced, for drinks and conversation. There, people have a chance to make new friends, find a place to stay here, or simply get recommendations of one sort or another from a local. Over the last nine years, CouchSurfing International Inc. has amassed just under 4,500,000 members across 253 countries and territories. Vienna is rated as one of the most active CouchSurfing cities, with 28,276 active participants. Of these, more than 3,800 are currently listed as hosts, meaning they are willing to open up their couches, spare rooms, apartments or houses to travelling CouchSurfers.

So if you’re travelling on a shoestring budget, or just want to get closer to the local culture, CouchSurfing may be just the thing. Of course that means living in a stranger’s house and often also with said stranger, while the only insurance on either side against theft, violence or milder disturbances is mutual trust.

Every member has a profile with personal descriptions, as well as a rating to ensure user satisfaction. Other features, such as the ability to choose your future cohabitants by sex or age, increase user friendliness and security. Negative feedback is minimal, unpleasant participants are given poor ratings and worse offences are punished with a permanent ban. This produces a self-policed community where bad-mannered members are reprimanded with poor ratings, and suspicious travellers are reported on the message boards and to the website’s administrators.

While most people use this network to seek hosts or the inside scoop on their next destination, others come just looking to meet new people in their area. For this, the Vienna CouchSurfer’s monthly Stammtisch or annual “Vienna Calling” party is ideal.

Over refreshing bottled confidence, this month’s active participants made awkward introductions and small talk while the booze gradually softened their inhibitions. A young Romanian woman named Joana related that although she has been a member for years, she has never hosted anyone and, due to misfortune and missed flights, was never hosted.

“I come here to meet new people,” she confirmed. “And some I’ve met at these events have remained good friends ever since.”

So if you’re bored of your current circle, need a place that’s cheaper than your present digs, or are just curious, come be a part of the next Stammtisch. And who knows? You may end up taking in a traveller who becomes a friend for life!

 

Next regular CouchSurfing meeting: 12 July, 19:00
Weberknecht
16., Lerchenfelder Gürtel 47-49
www.couchsurfing.org

12 Aug meeting location TBA

See also “Couchsurfing: The World for Free” in June 2009 TVR

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