The Weekend in Bucharest Life

The weekend in Bucharest life was of course dominated by just one, tragic event: the fire in a club, Colectiv, in which 27 people died. Two people have since died in hospital, and more than 30 of those injured remain in a critical condition.

We know the building in which Colectiv is located (the old Pionierul factory) well: we live just around the corner and Daughter of Bucharest Life has dance lessons there twice a week. She was in fact there early on Friday afternoon.

Too much has already been written about the fire, and who was (or was not) to blame, so we will make just three short points.

Firstly, despite early, ill-informed reports to the contrary, Bucharest’s emergency services coped very well. The reaction of civil society – there were queues to donate blood – has been equally impressive.

Secondly, we will not win many friends for stating the simple fact that this was an accident waiting to happen. Hundreds of Bucharest’s pubs and clubs do not have adequate fire escapes (some, like Colectiv, have none at all), and in a city where four of the seven mayors are either in prison, under house arrest or otherwise charged with corruption, nobody seems to care too much. Perhaps we should add a ‘Fire escape’ symbol to our listings in Bucharest In Your Pocket, so people know if they are dicing with death when they enter a club.

Thirdly, those fake Christians – such as scumbag Steaua Bucharest owner and convicted criminal Gigi Becali – who implied that those who died brought it on themselves for being ‘demonic’ or listening to the music of a band whose lyrics contain ‘satanic verses’ (we have no idea if they do or not) are beyond help. They are the lowest of the low. They are not Christians. It’s like saying that anyone who ever went to an AC/DC concert deserves to be shot. We would add that the official position of Preafericitul Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, is actually a rather impressive one calling for calm, solidarity and for donations of blood.

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62 thoughts on “The Weekend in Bucharest Life

  1. People shouldn’t be celebrating a satanic festival period! It is bang outta order that the satanic mainstream media is promoting this halloween bollocks. Encouraging women to dress up and behave as whores and geezers thinking it’s all right to touch up girls just because they are wearing a set of devils horns!
    No sprinkler system installed in any of the pubs and clubs in Romania? Of course not, because the smokers keep setting them off.

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  2. You are 100 percent right about the emergency exits. I visited a club some years ago that was in a basement accessed by one single staircase that was very narrow. No other way in or out. It was within sight of the old CC building.

    This is an opportunity for Bucharest to insist these places be more safe.

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      1. I beg to differ. Fireworks in such a small space? It’s a problem. You can get away with it at huge places (Sala Polivalenta etc.) but not a tiny little club.

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      2. I am so scared of fire, I unplug all my lamps etc. from wall outlets here in Bucharest when I leave for more than a day. Actually lighting fireworks indoors is beyond comprehension. These clubs have walls and ceilings that are more flammable than paper.

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      3. Millions of pyrotechnics are used indoors around the world without fires breaking out and killing people. Proper safety measures such as carrying out a risk assessment, ensuring flame retarding materials are used, clear fire escapes and a fire suppression system. would have fixed this.

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      4. Ok, but Bucharest’s clubs are often set up by the seat of people’s pants = on a budget. The club owners refused to install flame retardant sound proofing because they didn’t want to spend the money.

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      5. Agree Craig, you can guarantee a proper risk assessment of the tiny club with one exit and lacking in fire fighting abilities and regulations made it mindless to use pyros inside and should never have been allowed.

        No amount of bleating about other properly regulated places using pyros can excuse the fact it was stupidity beyond belief – which has been a catalyst for the tragic loss of life.

        The owners of establishments in Lipscani and similar ilk take note! As it’s not just pyros which are a fire risk, I’d argue cigarettes and unregulated electrical wiring too.

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    1. Quite clearly lighting pyros in a building with one exit was foolish in the extreme, and I assume lacking in fire fighting equipment and a valid risk assessment!

      Regardless of sufficient exits, the building set on fire, so pyros were definitely part of the problem, in a major way!

      If the pyros hadn’t caused a fire, nobody would have died. Yes better exits etc may have saved lives – but they weren’t their and the pyros setting the roof alight has resulted in the tragic needless deaths of so many people.

      Yes, lessons need to be learnt and I’d agree many other factors were at fault here, but let’s be clear – if the pyros hadn’t been used in an area not controlled or risk assessed, then nobody would have died.

      Too many selfish owners and unregulated fire safety issues here – and I’d hazard a guess not all the bars and clubs in Bucharest are Romanian owned, so maybe some need to take a long hard look at their premises?

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  3. Living in Romania has never been particularly safe and I always have had a hard time understanding how some Romanians think. If you drive in Romania you know all too well the drivers who pass you uphill on blind curves. There’s something in the Romanian spirit about tempting fate. I see this mentality in many aspects of life here.

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    1. Our ancestors lived through hard times and they learned to treat death, injury, catastrophe with a feeling of contemplation rather than revolt or precaution.

      Much like what you see in the Arab world: people die in all kinds of stupid events, but society seems to take everything as it is.

      I remember my grandmother when she told me about the earthquake in 1977, as she was a nurse: there were no more bandages available and doctors and nurses would tear their robes and improvise whatever they could. Dead were taken to the stadium, injured were treated wherever it was possible.

      This was the situation, nobody ever thought about how things should be, they just took it as it is. It’s a feeling that has been transmitted from generation to generation: “if you are to die, you’re gonna die anyway”…

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  4. The real wake up call is going to come with the next earthquake. Bucharest might just be decimated by it. Thousands in hospitals. The city better get on the building situation quick.

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    1. The earthquake situation doesn’t bear thinking about – I’d rather live in a single storey building or similar in Bucharest, given a choice.

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  5. Romania is a peaceful place. It doesn’t see the kind of violence that happens in America everyday for instance. This is why when something like the nightclub fire happens, it comes as a real shock to this country that is just finally getting back on its feet after Ceausescu. Romania and Romanians have meant everything to me over the past 15 years and I’m rooting for them right now. It personally hurts to see something like this happen to Bucharestians.

    What’s been great about the past few years is the explosion of bars and clubs in Bucharest. Unfortunately, so many things here can be tied back to communism and its lingering effects–people are opening up new places on a budget and are not about to pay for flame retardant materials or sprinkler systems.

    If you don’t impoverish a people to begin with, you don’t end up with all of the difficulties Romania has had–and continues to have–transitioning back to capitalism.

    So much of what goes on in Romania could be avoided if the powers at be were operating on all four cylinders instead of lining their pockets with stolen cash.

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    1. It’s the fault of the banking system which does not fulfill its role of financing startups and small businesses. It’s virtually impossible for a small business to get a loan from the bank. Yes, people are forced to do whatever they can.

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  6. Bucharest did away with its dogs after a boy was bitten to death. Maybe now it will bring its clubs up to code after this disaster. Somehow the city never does “normal” things without a tragedy.

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  7. I was there for a concert earlier this year and I know first hand it was difficult to get out even under normal circumstances.

    While this won’t bring back the dead or soothe the suffering of those left disfigured for life, I hope that whoever is found responsible for this will spend a very long time in prison. Normally that should mean the owners, the organizers and whoever allowed this place to conduct its business.

    This being said, I think the emergency response units reacted quite well. There’s always room for improvement, but I can’t really fault them. The firemen, doctors and paramedics are among the heroes of this fateful night. And of course those who risked, even sacrificed their lives to save others from flames.

    The reaction from Bucharesters has been quite impressive. For example people at my work place are already organizing to donate blood over the next week, the thinking being those people will probably need regular blood transfusions for quite some time. As I understand it, burn victims constanly loose bodily fluids due to exposed tissues…

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  8. I’ve lived in Bucharest since 2008. The club fire at Colectiv is awful but was an accident waiting to happen. Bucharest nightlife has always been the Wild West: crowded subsol bars with one small door to the street and the like. I have always wondered how places stay open but I guess the authorities turn a blind eye? Maybe this time around things will be cleaned up a bit. Expirat, around since 2002, has already closed. I remember always feeling claustrophobic there. If things went south, it was going to be difficult to get out.

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    1. Davin,
      There are cellarbars similar to Colectiv all over Europe with similar escapes; I can think of half a dozen in Prague alone (James Dean being one of them). Stop with your ‘Backwards Romania’ bullshit.

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      1. Spent three years there and visit on a regular basis for work. Doesn’t change the fact of what I said previously.
        Here’s a selection of bars in Prague in a similar situation with regards to fire escapes and safety
        Aloha, Hangar Bar, James Dean, Harley’s and several others. All are over crowded rat’s-nests with a single narrow staircase leading out and minimal fire suppressant facilities. Hell in two of the three flaming cocktails at the bar and fire-shows are common place.

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    2. Davina, Craig and others make fair points regarding the quite often poor situation in bars and clubs regarding health and safety … I’m not sure why that would offend anyone so much – but this is the Internet, it attracts all sorts. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to see change or progress, for the right reasons of course – no matter what part of the world that may be.

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  9. I’m seeing the Colectiv nightclub fire here in Bucharest now as a milestone on the road to real democracy in Romania. The fire is being viewed as a result of corruption, indifference and incompetence by the powers that be. It seems there was Bucharest before the fire and now the Bucharest after it. Part of the fun of being here has been that it’s a bit of the Wild West. All us expats choose to live in Bucharest exactly because it is not Western Europe, but this was a wake up call and I believe some good will come out of it. Romanians are really sick and tired of the criminal political class and this event might just change some things.

    “Andrei Sosa, the owner of Expirat in Bucharest, announced the permanent closure of his venue, which also has only one exit. “I apologise and I take responsibility. From 2003 I have put the lives of thousands of people in danger, weekend after weekend and sometimes during the week,” he said.”

    Sounds like criminal negligence to me. . .

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/02/romanian-nightclubs-admit-safety-failures-after-bucharest-fire

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    1. What the fuck kind of drugs are you on? You would rather they kept things calm and didn’t have Ceausescu dragged out the back and shot?

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    2. Ceausescu has been dead a long time, Romanians did protest against him and kill him, and your constant harping on him bears little relevance to the car-driving, cell-phone-using, hustling Romania of today.

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      1. Indeed. I imagine these protests fizzling out after a couple of weeks like in 2012. Ponta et al have shown time and time again that they have no shame and will just wave off calls to resign. The protesters don’t have the stones to take the protests to the next level unfortunately.

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      2. Nobody resigns in a country where the a alternative is just as bad and corrupt. I don’t want them to resign, I want them to stay and make something good out of it.

        Some of the people at the protest belong to Soros NGOs and there’s nobody worse in this world than Soros.

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      3. …and Ponta quits. Not because he actually cares about the fire, but it gives him a handy excuse to avoid resigning after being found guilty of his corruption charges.

        (Sits back…waits for someone to post that the fire was a Ponta conspiracy to allow him to resign…)

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      4. Actually, on a closer look, this resignation shows how stupid the damn liberals are: for 1 year they’ve been bragging about taking over the government and not even now are they gonna see it.

        Ponta kicked the asses of the miserable liberals once again, as he did throughout his entire mandate.

        Let’s see if they have the guts to force a minority government and throw the country in a political crisis under these social conditions, or build a majority together with Gabi Oprea.

        Such idiots… such idiots! (the liberals, of course)

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      5. Wow, didn’t expect him to actually leave. Although I notice he will stay until a replacement is nominated.
        Will he be the scapegoat for the rest of his corrupt friends though?

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  10. There’s been a couple wildly wrong about Ponta on this thread …

    Egg and face spring to mind 🙂

    Let the EUssr run the show, now that really would be the end of democracy!

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      1. FIFA might not be corrupt enough for Ponta Phil, I could see him becoming a EUssr unelected bureaucrat though 🙂

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  11. Since I first arrived in Romania in 2000, I’ve been waiting for a protest like this to occur. The paradoxical enigma that is Romania seems to be disintegrating finally. It’s about time, some 26 years after the fall of Ceausescu.

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  12. Ponta has only stepped down after 32 people were killed in a horrible way and another 90 are terribly maimed. The guy is a goddamn bastard. It’s important to remember this.

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    1. “bastard
      ˈbɑːstəd,ˈbast-/Submit
      noun
      1.
      archaicderogatory
      a person born of parents not married to each other.
      synonyms: illegitimate child, child born out of wedlock; More
      2.
      informal
      an unpleasant or despicable person.
      “he lied to me, the bastard!”
      synonyms: scoundrel, villain, rogue, rascal, brute, animal, weasel, snake, monster, ogre, wretch, devil, good-for-nothing, reprobate, wrongdoer, evil-doer;”

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      1. Looks like you’ve inherited the forum stalker Davina, good luck with that 🙂

        I think your general point about Ponta, being an unpleasant and corrupt individual is based on fair standing – from the evidence I’ve been privy too.

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      1. He should have stepped down months ago for the corruption thing, or years ago over the copy and ponta scandal. The fire wasn’t his fault, but he’s seen as a representation of everything that’s wrong with the political class and therefore indirectly. Unfortunately, since his fate was sealed by the DNA earlier in the year, I’m seeing him as a PSD sacrificial lamb.

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  13. I like the corrupt Romania though. That’s what’s been fun about being here–that it’s not the West. I hope Bucharest doesn’t become now like a boring Western European capital.

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    1. I won’t resort to angry abuse Davina but surely your latest post completely contradicts all you’ve said before?

      You’ve made endless posts moaning how ‘backwards’ Romania is, this that and the other aren’t right etc etc etc … And NOW, you’re fearful that the very country you’ve spent winging about – might change ?

      Explain your contradictions please?

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      1. There’s no contradiction, he likes Romania being a poverty stricken country since that allows him the chance to exploit people by taking photos of their poverty.
        Just like Prince Charles, he sees Romania as his private little playpen and the poors as funny little decorations.

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