If you love folk music, the question is not “Should I go to Budapest?” but rather “Have I checked the airfares today?”. I was introduced to Hungarian folk music through folklorist friend David Stanley while visiting him in Budapest. On any night of the week there is an amazing number of concerts and events going on in the city. Dave knew the best things to see and do and, even better, spoke way more Hungarian than me. I saw a concert of the beloved band Muszikas and went to a táncház (literally “dance house”) which is a traditional dance event that features live music and folk dances. I loved it!
I went back to Budapest in 2013 and wanted to find more music on my own. Never mind that I spoke 3 Hungarian words at the time (its not really a language you can fake your way through). Why didn’t I do research beforehand? Most of the sites I found were in Hungarian and made no sense when I Google translated them. But I don’t think that’s a reason to stay home and went anyway.
I stayed at the Homemade Hostel, which is nothing short of fabulous, and the staff pointed me in the right direction. I walked to Potkulcs, one of Budapest’s many romkocma, or “ruin pubs”, that features folk music. Here’s what I found:
I sat with a beer for all of 5 minutes before a group invited me to sit with their table and soon after we all joined in the dance. Some of these dances are much easier to learn than others so you have to be your own best judge. A person I spoke with suggested I go to a dance the next night at Gondozó Kert with music by Jam de Strune and I saw some familiar faces from the night before. I’m sure it could have continued after that with more recommendations as it seems you can be out for music 7 nights a week if you so choose.