Well that didn’t take long.
It’s only, what, five years (?) since Bucharest’s Old Town area – which had been dormant for decades – became the city’s central entertainment district, but that’s more than enough for the backlash to have begun.
Pro TV ran a story last week proclaiming the death of Lipscani: Falimentul Centrului Vechi (The Bankruptcy of the Old Town) they called it, adding that far from being party central, the area had been transformed into ‘poverty central.’ Apparently, the kids are now partying on Calea Victoriei, in Herastrau, in Piata Amzei and on Bulevardul Decebal.
Are they bollocks. There are of course venues in those locations, but then there always have been. They cater to very different markets than the Old Town. No, as usual, As usual, Pro TV are making the facts fit the story rather than the other way around. In doing so they are betraying the fact that they know fuck all.
Pro TV‘s entire argument – if you can call it that – appears to be based on the fact that large numbers of venues open and close each year: almost 100 annually, the report suggests.
We do not dispute the numbers: we know better than just about anyone else in Bucharest how many venues open and close in this city: it is what earns us a living. The point is, venues are always opening and closing, in the Old Town as well as elsewhere in the city.
It’s called the market.
Crap venues open and close, good venues open and, ahem, stay open. For every crappy bar and restaurant which opens with great fanfare but then lasts about five minutes there are plenty of others which stand the test of time by being, you know, quite good. It is not rocket science: the horeca business has always been – and always will be – one of the most attritional there is. That’s valid for Old Town, for the rest of Bucharest and for just about every district of every city in the world. Unfortunately, far too many people think that there are short cuts to success, and that a good location is one such short cut. It isn’t. If your venue is crap it will fail wherever it is.
Of course, now we think of it there is actually nothing new about the Old Town backlash. Ever since the area became popular five or six years ago there have been plenty of snobs declaring their hatred for it, based mainly on the fact that those frightful working classes go there.
Old Town has certainly become seedier: there is an awful large number of dodgy night clubs and massage parlours in the area now, at least some of which are not-very-subtle fronts for brothels. Again, this is not unique to the Old Town.
In short, Pro TV‘s report is trying to say that the days of an Old Town location guaranteeing success are over. Well, if they knew anything about anything they would know that an Old Town location never guaranteed success.
Old Town will continue to be the city’s liveliest district for some time to come. It remains rough around the edges, seedy and often way too crowded. That does not put off the thousands of locals and foreigners who head for the area every weekend, however. There will continue to be a cull of bars and restaurants which are not up to scratch – a good thing. But those Old Town venues which have been around for years, and which continue to do well (we are thinking here of places like Lacrimi si sfinti, Mojo, Divan, La Bonne Bouche, Bordello, Beer O’Clock and Van Gogh – amongst others) are going nowhere.