Built by architects Frank O. Gehry and Vlado Milunič, the building incorporates interesting elements of symbolism. Meant in part to signify the transition out of communism and into a free society, the two distinct halves come together with both a dynamic and static side. It is supposed to look like a dancing couple (Gehry was supposedly inspired by famed dancing duo Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and wanted to call the building Fred and Ginger, which never really caught on.) The concrete part is the male dancer with the glass side acting as his more fluid female partner. Medusa is the large metal sculpture crowning them both at the top of the building.
Today, the Dancing House is mainly filled with offices, but there are a few ways to get a glimpse inside. There’s a gallery, Gallery Dancing House (Galerie Tančící dům) which shows temporary exhibitions of Czech artists and themes; a 7th floor restaurant called Ginger & Fred with a French inspired menu plus an upscale bar with an outdoor viewing platform, Glass Bar, with fabulous views of the Vltava River.
The building was quite controversial for its time. The space had been empty since World War II; the original building had been destroyed by American bombers in February 1945. One view was to style the new building similar to its neighbours, a stately row of Art Nouveau and other 20th century style inspired houses. While Prague’s historical architecture is one reason the city is still so beautiful, anyone wanting to do any sort of ‘modern’ construction still has a fight on their hands.
Interestingly, Czechoslovakia’s first president, Václav Havel had a long time interest in seeing something built on the site. Part owner of the vacant lot, he’d been trying to get something going there since the mid-80s. He and architect Milunič brainstormed Havel’s vision of a library, café and theatre on the riverfront. A lack of investors meant his plan never came to fruition however.
Galerie Tančící dům
Jiráskovo náměstí 6
Ginger & Fred
Jiráskovo náměstí 6 (Dancing House)
Jiráskovo náměstí 6