With a population of almost 2 million people, Bucharest is the largest city in Romania, but its significance spreads much further that its local context. Across the world, Bucharest is known for its stunning architecture, vivid history and unique culture.
Bucharest’s Parliament Palace is the second largest administrative building in the world, just smaller than The Pentagon. The city was also nicknamed ‘Little Paris’ on account of its scale and splendour. It’s even one of the top 15 cities for internet speed in the world.
But as we would learn speaking with Bucharest foremost Riot Grrrl group Las Poftas, as with most regions, Bucharest is also a place undergoing change. A local administration seemingly more concerned with profit than culture has stifled the once swelling punk scene – where local bands such as Terror Art and Nihilistic just to name a few, performed regularly.
But as we’ve come to learn from our global series, you can’t stop punk.
Growing up as a young punk in Bucharest, what are some of the places you would hang out?
The mainstay of Bucharest punk culture is the Underworld Club, which despite changing a few locations in the last 16 years, kept on hosting touring and local bands regularly.
How does the general Bucharest community take to punks and punk music?
Punk is mostly ignored by the general public. It depends on what your definition of punk is. In Bucharest, punk bands don’t share a common aesthetic, what brings them together is a shared independent spirit. The people involved in the scene mostly have jobs, are artists or activists and blend pretty easy in mainstream society. The street punks wearing mohawks and tattered attire are not a common sight in Bucharest anymore.
What do you think is the biggest threat to the punk community in your city?
The biggest threat is the lack of venues. After the Colectiv nightclub fire in 2015, there was a crackdown on clubs that didn’t fit the specific fire regulations. Bigger venues adapted, but a lot of small venues were forced to close down and couldn’t relocate.
What are some of the best record shops for punk music in Bucharest, and what makes them special places?
In Bucharest you will not find dedicated punk rock record shops. There are a couple of distros, like Fading Halo and Summercide. As for established independent record stores, worth checking out are Misbists and Two Sides, places where you can find some cool/interesting/weird/punk, even titles.
“The street punks wearing mohawks and tattered attire are not a common sight in Bucharest anymore.”
What’s the best way to find punk music and bands in Bucharest?
The whole thing happens online, like promotion for shows and music sharing. Corporate radios are mainly focused on local and international pop music and so called ”alternative” ones mostly ignore the independent spectrum of local punk bands. The exception may be Radio 3 net, a public station where you can listen to, at least, international bands of a more interesting persuasion.
I’d love to know about some of the live music venues in Bucharest! Where are some of the best venues for punk rock music?
The above mentioned Underworld is the oldest and most active punk venue in Bucharest and it’s vital to the development of the whole scene. In recent times, Sims Club, an old-school sports bar in the centre of Bucharest, became really popular with local collectives for hosting parties and shows for local or international acts. Unfortunately, the building complex that hosted the bar – which included a few other small businesses, the Moxa 2.0 art studio and the Corp.X space, was sold and is due for demolition this Autumn. Worth mentioning is the Macaz Autonomous Collective, that used to hold punk shows from time to time. The space was forced to relocate to a much smaller venue some time ago.
Other than Las Poftas, who are some other great punk bands making moves from Bucharest?
A few bands we would like to mention would be: The Nuggers, Bad Decisions, Bastos, Cold Brats, I stared into the forest, Pandrea and also worth mentioning is the LMA Collective in the north of the country, in Cluj Napoca that is very much active to this day.
What are your tips for any punks travelling through your hometown?
Bucharest is an interesting place, but unfortunately the quality of life dropped significantly in the last couple of years due to the disastrous local administration. This involves pollution, traffic, inefficient public transport, cutting down parks to make place for real estate enterprises, monopoly on the cultural life, and thus making it very difficult for independent actions to develop…. and the list goes on. Other than that, we wouldn’t discourage people from visiting. You can find truly beautiful architecture, hidden sites, the Vacaresti Nature Park, an abandoned dam built in the late 80’s on the outskirts of Bucharest – surrounded by the communist era building blocks – that developed into a natural delta, attracting various species of plant and wildlife.