Police crack down on Budapest nightlife

Due to a recent unfortunate event, people who were running a nightclub or any other entertainment venue in Budapest 10-12 years ago and are still in the business are in for some deja vu right now. You can always expect that the authorities might strike with a campaign like this, but you can never be prepared for it.

A couple of weeks ago a club called West Balkán made a terrible mistake which caused the deaths of three young girls. What they did was they hosted an event at which the number of teenagers in attendance was multiple times more than how many they could have allowed to enter. At one point, for a reason still unknown, the crowd panicked and everyone started to run out to the street, stampeding on everyone who fell.

It is clear that the management made mistakes for which they must be held responsible. Without a doubt. It is also obvious that in connection with this tragedy the conditions of all such venues must be reviewed with the safety of attendees in mind as the number one priority.

The only big question is whether this process, ordered directly by the prime minister and coordinated by the minister of internal affairs, is only a facade or a campaign with actual results, where everything possible is done to prevent that a fatal accident like this happens again.

What we’re even more interested in is whether this time the authorities will focus on actually resolving the problem instead of just pretending to have achieved something like so many times before.

When we hear things like a decent downtown club being closed down by the authorities because the handle of the rács on the entrance was placed too high, we tend to think that this again is only done to make the statistics look better and to create a facade that masks the reality that real problems still haven’t been dealt with, let alone solved. And we wouldn’t even dare to think that the two things to dominate all of this could yet again be money and connections, even though that’s what the experience of the past years suggests...

Because if you look beyond the surface - if you dare to look, that is - it is not hard to figure out what’s going on. It doesn’t take rocket science or even a private investigator to realise which are the clubs like West Balkán, based on young teenagers, who get contaminated with all kinds of drugs. Which are the discos where extasy and speed can be dealt without hassle, without a single razzia in many years. Of course everybody knows this, the police know it best, but still they go around closing down places where over30s, among them many tourists and expats choose to go out day by day, as alleged punishment for the rács being too high.

We wouldn’t at all be surprised if, after clubs and pubs, this razzia wave reached nightclubs as well. Of course this itself would not be a problem. If there is no control, there is no order.. and if there is no order, there is no safety either. And safety is more important than anything. Trouble is: for years the authorities have had no problem allowing certain clubs and the taxi drivers cooperating with them to conduct awful frauds against tourists. My question now is this: can we maybe expect that this time those will be punished who actually make the mistakes? Can we expect that finally those clubs are placed under scrutiny who are known to have many problems but keep reopening and operating anyway, despite having been closed down several times?

The answer is simple: WE CAN’T.

Which is a pity, because this finally could be a good opportunity for the authorities to deal with those who actually create and are the problem. By this we mean certain discos, clubs and restaurants. Or maybe the cleansing procedure should have begun within the police force?? We of course are not the ones to answer this.. maybe the day will come when the minister of internal affairs realises he is. Maybe.

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