Legendary Budapest club Tilos az Á to reopen


  • Peterjon Cresswell

1/14/2021 12:23 PM

Five founders of long-lost local nightspots have formed a group to revive Budapest's most legendary music club of all, the Tilos az Á. Set in District VIII, this revered venue opened on New Year’s Eve shortly after the fall of Communism in 1989, only to be closed down five years later. In between, the Tilos hosted the cream of the alternative scene, from Hungary, the region and the UK. It also spawned a radio station and a theatre troupe.

In a letter of intent citing the recent demise of two age-old establishments in Budapest, the Wichmann and Márványmenyasszony, five individuals with a long and successful track record of running nightspots in town have revealed their plan to reopen the Tilos az Á.

Cultural monument

In a bold and welcome message to kick off a new year in shutdown mode, they state: “We are committed to reviving an important cultural monument of Budapest. We, the former founders and owners of the Kupling, Zöld Pardon and Instant, are now reviving the past within us and carrying it into the future”.

Photo: Kőrösi Tamás - We Love Budapest

And what a past! It is hard to overstate just how vital the Tilos az Á was to the lifeblood of the city. At its peak between the fall of Communism and the commercialisation of Budapest, this pre-Sziget oasis was the watering hole around which every alternative musician, artist and journalist would gather.

Photo: Juhász Norbert - We Love Budapest

Taking its name from the Hungarian version of the signboard ‘Trespassers W’ outside Piglet’s house in Winnie-the-Pooh, the Tilos staged the likes of Kispál és a Borz, Quimby and Tudósok, among hundreds of other notable domestic acts. On any given night of the week, you might see Majke from Vinkovci, the Brain of Morbius from London or, on the occasion of the last Soviet soldier departing from Hungarian soil in 1991, Frank Zappa.

Photo: Tihanyi Károly

A crowd of bizarre regulars, the omnishambolic Dixi the most memorable, would hang out around the street-level bar while a cellarful of noise rumbled up from the floorboards. The club’s first cultural director, the equally legendary DJ Palotai, later assumed the same role at its partner radio station.

Photo: Kőrösi Tamás - We Love Budapest

Among the most memorable events was the unveiling of a huge mural of a New York scene created by French artist Jean-Michel Verret and presented by Hungarian theatre director Péter Halász.

Long after the Tilos had closed, after another legendary New Year’s Eve 1994/95, the painting remained in place, although later partly obscured by the bland furnishings of the Zappa Caffe that replaced it.

Diverse musical bistro

Now the gang of five have their own concept for this legendary location, fusing past, present and future: “Using modern interior design and furnishing solutions and a fresh approach to cultural organisation, we will create a communal living space where music radiates everywhere, and feelings of diversity, acceptance and open thinking flow. A musical bistro where the gastronomic and aesthetic experience merge. Where they still believe in the power of art. Where students feel equally at home as the old guard from the régime change, and tourists can discover an environment and an exuberance they cannot experience elsewhere in Budapest”.

Watch this space!

District VIII. Mikszáth Kálmán tér 2-3

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