I imagine there are countless subterranean clubs and untold numbers of spots tucked away for a nightcap, a small bite, and a conversation over drinks in Budapest, including quite a number of dockside vessels hosting clubs and cafes right on The Danube itself. I didn't dig as deeply for nightlife around the city as i might have done, in part because enough of it was right outside my door each evening. Kazinczy Street is home to a contemporary nightlife legend, Szimpla Kertmozi.
It's a "Ruin's Pub" in the 7th District that seems to go on room after room, courtyards and stairways, nooks and crannies, and multiple bars within this kind of squatter's art & drinks encampment.
It's also very popular and has other siblings in places like Berlin and the southern Hungarian town of Pécs. It doesn't feel like any sort of chain, though, as it features local art and an under-designed but 'street' vibe in hyper-local venues, re-inhabited spaces in central but unfashionable quarters.
Budapest's population peaked in the mid-80s at over two million. Since then, it has lost around 20% of its population, now down to the same as in 1958, which leaves quite a lot of real estate to keep up. It was solidly built, but time and gravity are constant. Balconies sometimes crash to the streets in the Old Town. Whole chunks of buildings seem to be worn or blown away but still they are fairly inhabited. The state frets about such things both superficially -- starting but not finishing new projects -- and primordial -- enacting a population drive to benefit larger families.
Meanwhile, in the crevices more nightlife blossoms, bookstores hang on and the wire of electricity that has always buzzed through Budapest continues. Rent is cheap though wages are low. The arts and cultural life of the capitol can afford to thrive even if, always underneath, the wrenching changes endlessly wrought upon this place are forever imminent. Everyone here knows it, but until then,
Here we are, enjoying ourselves amongst the students, spies, movers and makers.