Budapest's gay scene has taken wing in recent years, with new, overtly gay clubs replacing the old, covert meeting places, and the appearance of a trilingual monthly listings magazine, Mások ("Outsiders"). However, gays must still tread warily and lesbians even more so. The Hungarian word for gay is meleg - "warm" - while the pejorative term is "buzi" (from the word "buzeráns", which has the same roots as "bugger"). The websites www.gayguide.net/Europe/Hungary/ Budapest and www.gay.hu have the latest on gay accommodation, bars, clubs, restaurants, baths and any events that might be happening in the city, and the Hattér helpline (daily 6-11pm; tel 1/329-3380, firstname.lastname@example.org ), run by the largest gay and lesbian organization in the country, is another good source of information.
Aside from the bars and clubs we've listed, the Turkish baths are a popular meeting place - Király Baths for the younger crowd, where you'll find a lot of Romanian prostitutes; the Rácz for the more middle-aged gays; and the Rudas Baths, where a more mixed crowd is found mainly after 6pm - but, as tends to be the case in the city, these are gay hangouts for men only. The same is true of the first private gay bath, Magnum Sauna & Gym at VIII, Csepreghy utca 2 (Mon-Thurs & Sun 1pm-1am, Fri & Sat 1pm-6am; 1600Ft; tel 1/267 2532, gayguide.net/Budapest/Magnum; Ferenc körut metro). Restaurants with a particularly gay clientele include Club 93 (V, Vas utca 2; 11am-midnight), a cheap pizzeria near Astoria that is popular after 8pm, and Warlitzer (VII, Wessélenyi utca 49; Mon-Sat noon-midnight).
The major event in the gay calendar is Gay Pride Budapest , a four-day festival taking place at the end of June. Organized by Hattér, this is fast becoming a well-established event in the capital, incorporating a varied programme of film festivals, public discussion forums and gay parties. The event culminates with the very colourful Pride March on the final Saturday, which wends its way from Dózsa György út to the Belgrád rakpart via Andrassy út.
Gay bars and clubs
Most of the places listed below levy an entry fee or set a minimum consumption level - being gay in Budapest is an expensive privilege. Some, like the Capella , give you a card when you enter, which all your drinks are written down on; you then pay for your drinks and the entry fee as you leave - though be warned that if you lose the card you'll have to pay a lot of money.
At last in this very male-dominated town, there is a lesbian-friendly bar, the Eklektika , but the Angyal, Capella , and Limo are also good for women.
Action V, Magyar utca 42 www.action.gay.hu . The hardest of the gay bars, full of young men looking for one-night stands. Dark room and video room. Entry 1000Ft. Daily 9pm-4am.
Angyál Bár VII, Szövetség utca 33. Budapest's premier gay club looks like an airport lounge, but has an interesting crowd. Men-only on Saturdays, but popular with women on Fridays and Sundays. Entry 600-700Ft. Thurs-Sun 10pm-dawn.
Capella V, Belgrád rakpart 23 www.extra.hu/capellacafe . Drag queens, jungle music and lots of kitsch. Shows start at 11.30pm and 2am on Friday and Saturday nights, or midnight the rest of the week. A very mixed joint, with men, women and a lot of straights too. Entry 1000Ft. Tues 9pm-2am, Wed-Sun 9pm-5am.
Chaos V, Dohány utca 38. The most cultured of the gay bars, this is a friendly place to meet. The ground floor is a gallery but downstairs there's a bar and a small dance floor. Entry 600Ft. Daily 9pm-5am.
Darling V, Szép utca 1. A beer-house and gallery that gets "warmer" after 9pm and stays open till late. Attracts a lot of Romanian prostitutes. Free entry. Daily 7pm-3am.
Eklektika V, Semmelweis utca 21. Lesbian-friendly bar - a pleasant space with 1960s furniture - that has a women-only evening on the second Saturday of every month. No entry fee, but entry 500Ft on women's night. Mon-Fri noon-midnight, Sat & Sun 5pm-midnight.
Heaven 51 VI, corner of Jókai utca and Ó utca. This friendly, two-level cellar bar hosts popular transvestite shows on Friday and Saturday, with an excellent Britney Spears. You'll find both straights and gays here. Entry 600Ft. Wed-Sun 10pm-4am.
Limo Club V, Belgrád rakpart 9. New bar near the Capella , attracting a gay-straight mix. Lavishly but imaginatively decorated, with a bar on the ground floor and a dance floor down the spiral staircase. Daily noon-5am.
Mystery Bar-klub V, Nagysándor József utca 3 tel 1/312-1436. Very small bar near the Arany József utca metro, for talking rather than dancing - there's no disco. If the door's locked you might have to wait to be let in. Internet café too. Free entry. Mon-Fri 10pm-4am, Sat & Sun 4pm-4am.
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