Those who were there will remember Budapest in the naughty ’90s for its unbridled nightlife. Legendary underground music clubs, carouse-till-dawn speakeasys, techno parties and lurid discos for the nouveaux riches all formed a once-in-a-lifetime tableau of after-dark fun post-Communism. Now this picture has been mapped out by Ákos Vizi, a graphic artist, concertgoer and party animal, with more niche urban cartography to follow!
Once upon a time, Budapest was not all ruin bars and new-wave cafés, but edgy alternative hangouts and brash dance clubs. As underground bands still thrashed and techno boomed, Budapest in the years following Communism was a fascinating mix of waning radical scenesters, newly moneyed Magyars and curious Westerners keen to explore.
The nightspots they frequented may have closed but their legend lives on in many people’s memories. The incomparable Zanzibar, the pioneering Blue Box and the savvy Zöldség-Gyümölcs, at the gateway to a then empty Gozsdu udvar, were all essential stops on any night out in Budapest in the early and mid-1990s. (Bizarrely, the Sixtus on Nagy Diófa utca has been omitted…)
At the top of most people’s lists was the Tilos az Á, live venue and vital drinking destination, closed on New Year’s Eve 1994/95 but soon to be resurrected after 25 years. The louche Piaf, too, has been taken over with a view to reopening, rebranded as Edith.
Apart from these rare revivals, nearly all of these bars, pubs and clubs have closed, changed hands or been knocked down. With this in mind, graphic artist Ákos Vizi, a graphic artist, and friends Imre Györösi, Tamás Szalay, László Malahovszky and Gábor Wágner of We Love Budapest collated a list of these cult sites and posted the results on Facebook.
This will be the first in a series. To follow: the nightclubs of the 2000s. Watch this space!