Crowded, chaotic, unpredictable and fun, Sirkus is a Reykjavík bar that’s more than the sum of its dilapidated parts.
Sirkus is a rather improbable place. For starters, the fact that it’s still there at all is surprising in itself. This charmingly squalid, colourful and ramshackle little Reykjavík bar looks like it might have collapsed by your next visit. And, in fact, it well might.
Owned by a couple of charming and well-connected fiftysomething blondes, Sirkus has become the favourite hangout of the cool, the bohemian, the fabulous and the artistic. Or at least, you know, people with cool, bohemian, fabulous and artistic haircuts.
Which makes sense, seeing as the place is sort of like the bastard child of La Bohème and Studio 54—by which we mean that it’s probably the only bar/club in Reykjavik where riding in naked on a white horse, with tuberculosis, wouldn’t necessarily raise many eyebrows. On the contrary, people might just think it’s a clever way to get past that infernally long line.
Given the fluid ontological status of the dance floor—sometimes it’s there, sometimes not—Sirkus has become the improbable playground of some of Iceland’s more notable (if not best named) DJs, like DJ Thor, DJ Lazer, Einar, Biggi Veira, President Bongo, and, last but not least, Herb Legowitz, winner of the Sirkus Annual Tom Selleck Moustache Competition.
Courtesy of these fine gentlemen and others of their ilk, the music can go from melancholy emo-rock to Kraftwerk via the vintage italo disco of Giorgio Moroder, and end up in a thumping mass of techno, all in the space of a few hours.
Oh, and yes, Sirkus was also the location for Spike Jonze’s video for a certain Icelandic diva, who’s been known to spin a few records there herself when she’s in town.
By the way, we weren’t joking about the likelihood of the whole place collapsing. The building is slated for demolition by the city authorities. Maybe that’s what inspires the intense loyalty of its regulars: the fear that it will all end too soon.
Sirkus is on Klapparstígur 30, just around the corner from Laugavegur. Open till 1 in the morning from Sundays to Thursdays and till 5 on Fridays and Saturdays (lingering is considered bad form). Rated PG for noise, smoke, and chaos, but don’t worry—unless you arrive early or know the secret handshake, you’ll probably be spending most of your time in the line anyway.