While vinyl is now enjoying a renaissance (hoorah!) elsewhere, here in Budapest, it has never really gone away. If you think that only two or three shops in town held out during the long years of CDs and streaming, think again. Alternative outlets and smaller stores have long maintained a presence in the city, and there are probably a good 20 to choose from. These are our ten favourites.
On Ó utca in District VI, this store
is one of the newer ones, and it shows, airy, open and transparent. Here, they
sell underground electronica on vinyl, adding to the mix clothes of a style that matches the
musical offerings. In this way, you can not only pick up a few party hits but
also splash out on what to wear once you get there. An added bonus is that
sometimes DJ sessions liven up the purchase process.
For those into electronica, this store
on Aradi utca in District VI is a place of pilgrimage. Opened back in the late
’90s, it has flown the flag ever since. Without alienating hard-core followers,
what’s on offer is still primarily for those in the shallow end of the pool. Downtempo,
triphop, modern and old-fashioned soul and funk, deep house, disco, drum
& bass, jazzy dance music and any dance fashion is stocked here. Deep has a
solution for every beat and BPM number.
In the Palace Quarter behind the
National Museum, more specifically on Bródy Sándor utca, you find this friendly
little shop where vinyl takes pride of place, but there are also a few CDs and
cassettes. A big favourite with record collectors, the store is like a cosy library,
where you can rummage through the densely stacked piles of records, often finding
a rare trove. Collectors of 45s will have a field day.
Laci bácsi lemezboltja
The motorbike parked in the middle of this secondhand record shop on Kertész utca in District VII sets the tone. The whole collection here has been thrown together and laid out in wide browsing bins by alphabetical order as opposed to category. There’s everything but the kitchen sink, which is exactly what’s good about it. Anything might at any time, even a record you didn’t think you were missing.
This small vinyl cabin sits on Hollán Ernő utca in trendy Újlipótváros, where similar curious little shops await discovery. Such is Média-Pont. The many records here attract music aficionados like a magnet, looking to unearth the rarity that lifts their day and crowns their vinyl collection. It’s almost as if the owner has made a shop out of his own sitting room.
This business has been around 2010, opening its outlet three years later, on Üllői út near the Museum of Applied Arts. In its eye-catching cellar, you can choose from vinyl, CDs and DVDs, with music in all kinds of styles. They actually claim to have the largest selection in Hungary, no idle boast, although not easy to prove or otherwise.
At Oktogon, in an inner courtyard of a residential building on Teréz körút, not only do they buy and sell records, but they also offer professional cleaning. The stock includes mainly jazz, folk and rock, world music and classical. This record collectors’ oasis is not only a place to shop but also to talk shop, as the person behind the counter will be just as fanatical as you about the vinyl you’re after.
This shop on Szent István körút is a real dinosaur, with no slight intended. Solaris is one of the most important landmarks among the vinyl palaces of the capital, surviving when many have not. Tucked away next to the Vígszínház, in the inner courtyard of an imposing building, Solaris specialises primarily in rock music, but it can be a good find for anyone looking for other varieties of music.
In District VII, in the stairwell of an residential building on Erzsébet körút, is a small vinyl shop similar to Média Pont (see above), a cellar mainly full of vinyl. You also also find CDs and here you can not only buy but also sell. As its name suggests, the shop mainly stocks older music on its shelves but it shouldn’t be thought of as a retro store per se. Rather, the variable relationship between elapsed time and quality underscores the whole concept.
If any one record store is to be singled out from the list as legendary, it’s definitely Wave at the downtown end of District VI. This must-visit institution on Révay köz is as integral to Budapest as the nearby Basilica. A mecca for all kinds of alternative music, it mainly worships at the altar of guitar-based rock. T-shirts, books, fanzines, cassettes, badges and all related paraphernalia are also available.
Other record stores in Budapest
There are a few other great
record stores in Budapest worth mentioning. At XIII.Kresz Géza utca 11, Metro-Nóm
stocks mainly the music of the ’80s and ’90s. Two outlets are located on the same
stretch of Király utca, each within easy reach without stepping on each other’s
toes: Lemezkuckó (VII.Király utca 67) offers all kinds of music while Rock Diszkont
(VI. Király utca 108) goes in for traditional rock music of the domestic
variety. Alternative-focused CD Pince (VII.Erzsébet körút 37) has been there
forever, as has Musicland (VII.Almássy tér 8).