- 29 Aug 2013 9:00 AM
Two bars in the Budapest low-life that have nothing to do with each other, except for the fact that they sprang up at the same time (i.e. a few months ago) and work on the same model: the Szimpla model, if you like. But it does now seem that if you're the new derelict building on the block, you have to enter the quirk competition, which means more than szimply juggling the furniture.
Working out where to put a bar that will fill up as quickly as you can say "there's a new rom kocsma, let's check it out!", doesn't require a great deal of thought. It just requires a large, empty building, near the centre of town, somewhere where the neighbours aren't too fussy about noise.
("Rom kocsma" or "ruin pub" - you can either sound like an over-seasoned expat or like you've just read the easyJet magazine, there's no getting away from it.) As far as getting custom is concerned, there's no real trick - people will show up, as long as they think it's cool. And dilapidated buildings are inherently cool, as long as there's a bar. The clever bit is creating the atmosphere, which is what makes Instant and Mumus different beasts.
Nagymező utca 38 [map]
Pest Centre, VI, Oktogon (T4/6), 5 min
Instant, for starters, has a large courtyard - covered, in winter - and despite the heaters is cold enough out of season to make you reflect whether you have indeed been sitting outdoors. A shoal of fish hovers above, swimming amongst multicoloured lights, against a backdrop of ivy.
So far, so good, except it's phenomenonly busy. Venturing upstairs, in search of seats, there's an ample choice of rooms, few with any room in them; one with a bar. It's here that Instant begins to disappoint. Despite a few attempts at quirking it up - a dentist's chair; furniture on the ceiling; a bathroom exhibit - there's one thing missing: Instant doesn't appear to have a soul.
Maybe it's the white light and cold, windowless walls - and that's not every room - or maybe it's these quirky things themselves. Who needs a room with a dentist's chair? And who wants to look at a small bathroom with portraits on the tiles? Why didn't they spend more time furnishing the actual bathroom? It's just not very comfortable.
Dob utca 15
Pest Centre, VI, Astoria (M2), 5 min
Mumus, conversely, has an atmosphere to cherish. With such a mild October, it remained a kert-based operation until November; and it's a lovely kert. A huge tree at one end draws the eye skywards and gives a sense of nature and space. Tables fashioned from old metal barrels don't sound inspiring but they are, in fact, inspired: the light inside escapes through holes pierced in the sides and they look... enchanting.
As the summer faded into winter (there was no autumn), a cosy, low-lit indoor bar opened more frequently, but I couldn't help casting my eyes up the gated stairs every time I went there, wondering if there was more to come...
It is here, upstairs, that Mumus has certain similarities to Instant but the feeling that ambience comes first, is for the most part, still apparent. The rooms feel warmer, and the designs, the quirks, as I appear to have termed them, work for the soul, not against it. The lighting is ambitious and atmospheric: a radial sun; a neon drop of light. There's a DJ and dancing - no dancefloor as such - just the kind you'd see at a house party. Only the tentacled television-eye in the corner of one room fits the current vogue of "what the fuck?" decor.
Of the two, Instant is larger and apparently more popular but then it is on a main road, and has prominent signs, not to mention bomber-jacket bouncers, outside. Now I'm not saying that a sign or a bouncer is some kind of betrayal but, Mumus, hiding out on Dob utca, with a couple of normal-looking guys on the door, feels a lot more human, no matter how you look at it.
For Instant, walk down Nagymező from Andrassy and you'll see the bouncers on the left. For Mumus, walk up Dob utca from Astoria and it's on the left, a little after Spinoza and Lámpás.
mummus, instanz, instance
By Andy Sz. republished on XpatLoop.com with permission.
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