The Schwaben Club of Kitchener
Welcome to the WRX Property Group website and blog! Or should I say, Willkommen auf dem WRX Website und Blog! Today marks an exciting occasion: we are embarking on a new series on several special clubs in Kitchener-Waterloo. These clubs celebrate German culture and traditions (and a variety of German cultures and traditions, at that); they’re restaurants, banquet halls, and more. As you may know, Kitchener has a proud German heritage – whether you’ve noticed it in the street names, the famous Oktoberfest festivities, or the WRX article on Kitchener. Today, we’ll be looking at the Schwaben Club. So, let’s take a look!
The Schwaben Club is located on King Street East in Kitchener, right between the neighbourhoods of Kingsdale and King East (it’s a very regal part of the city). The club was established in 1931, and it’s been upholding German (and Danube Swabian) culture in Kitchener ever since. It’s a great place to visit, or to celebrate special occasions, and it’s got award-winning schnitzel (they are the proud recipients of the 2011 Hansie Award ‘Fester’s Choice’ Best Schnitzel). We’ll get into the specifics of what they offer, but first, a little bit of history.
Who are the Schwaben people, from whom the Schwaben Club derives its name? Their full name in English is the Danube Swabians, and their history stretches back to the seventeenth-century, when German-speaking settlers moved to lands around the Danube River (primarily in central European countries like Hungary and Romania) after the Ottomans were driven out. They toiled and brought prosperity to the region, while developing a shared identity defined by their proud German heritage. As land became scarce, Danube Swabians began spreading out, some arriving to Canada and the United States. And after numerous tumultuous events in the nineteenth and early to mid-twentieth centuries, even more came to North America, with many arriving in southern Ontario and Kitchener-Waterloo.
Events and Groups
The Schwaben Club hosts numerous events throughout the year, including music nights, Christmas markets, and more (every Friday night is the famous Friday Fish Fry!). Groups include the Family Bowlers (a children’s league for ages 4-15, and an adult’s league), and the Frauengruppe (originally a separate group called the Ladies Auxiliary), which organizes events for fun and charity (including bingo and making cabbage rolls). Since 1958, the Schwaben Club crowns an annual ‘Miss Schwaben,’ who serves as an ambassador for the club, particularly during Oktoberfest.
Speaking of Oktoberfest… The Schwaben Club, as noted, is active throughout the year. But Oktoberfest is particularly special. Every year, Oktoberfest transforms Kitchener-Waterloo into a Germanic wonderland, and the Schwaben Club is one of the most wonderful places to celebrate. Three halls are dedicated to Oktoberfest festivities (Oktoberfestivities?), with live music (both modern and traditional), delicious food (don’t forget about the award-winning schnitzel), dancing, and more. The Schwaben Club organized its first private Oktoberfest celebration in 1961 (possibly 1962), and the first public Oktoberfest in Kitchener-Waterloo took place in 1969. Since then, Kitchener-Waterloo’s Oktoberfest has become massive – the second biggest in the world – and the Schwaben Club remains one of the premier places to celebrate.
Dancing is a major part of the Schwaben experience, too. There are six different dance groups at the club: the Kindergruppe (ages 4-9); the Jugendgruppe (ages 9-16); the Donau Dancers (age 35+); and the Schwaben Dancers, an energetic troupe that strut their stuff around Kitchener and beyond (they’ve danced all across Southern Ontario, as well as locations in the USA and even Hungary). Dancers wear traditional clothing, and the dance repertoires include slow and fast numbers in a variety of styles. Traditional German folk dances are always the focus, but just as the Schwaben people settled in various lands and integrated new traditions, dances include those from Austria, the Balkans, Romania, Russia, and more. Whether you’re looking to become a dancer, and celebrate Schwaben tradition, or if you’re looking to book the dancers for an event, be sure to check out the dancing info here. Don’t miss them at Oktoberfest, either!
The Schwaben Club has several halls, each geared toward a specific style or size of gathering. Whether you’re hosting a fun family get-together, a holiday extravaganza, a wedding reception, a corporate meeting, or anything else that requires a rental space, the Schwaben Club has you covered. The Bier Keller is great for smaller gatherings, the Main Hall can host up to 400 guests, and the Schwaben Hall falls somewhere in the middle (and has a distinct, Bavarian style). You can check out the floor plans of each of the six individual halls here. The halls are all accessible, and there are washrooms available throughout. Pricing and ordering information, as well as seating capacity, can be found here.
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For your hall rentals, the Schwaben Club offers quite a few menu options. They offer several traditional German meals: there is plenty of schnitzel to be had (including the intriguing Jaeger Schnitzel); hearty potatoes prepared in a variety of ways; and for sweet-lovers, there are strudels and Black Forest cakes, just to name a few. There are plenty of non-traditional options, too. You can opt for Plated Dinners, Family Style service (meals served on platters shared by individual tables), Buffet service, and several hors d’oeuvres and food platter options. All options include rolls, water, and coffee/tea. Prices vary, of course, and there is an additional $8 charge if you are providing your own alcohol. Check out the menu here. If you’re interested in placing a food order for your event, simply fill out this form and bring it with you when you’re setting things up with the Schwaben Club manager.
Kitchener-Waterloo has a proud German tradition, and many of the people who’ve come to call this lovely city home trace their heritage back to the Danube Swabians. The Schwaben Club is not just a fun place to be – it’s also culturally significant. They proudly acknowledge and pay tribute to the sacrifices of their ancestors in their commemorative garden, and they keep Schwaben traditions alive through dance, cuisine, and celebrations. In addition to all of these things, the Schwaben Club is simply a great place to host an event – whatever that event may be. Hopefully you’ll check it out – but for now, auf Wiedersehen!
Written by Will Kummer