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Fekete Lyuk

From Unearthing The Music

Black Hole Club (1988) - Photo by: Tamás Urbán / fortepan.hu

Fekete Lyuk (Black Hole in Hungarian) was an Hungarian club which first opened in April 1988 in Budapest's 8th district, which was traditionally working-class. The club had a cult following among young intellectuals, punks, and skinheads, but it also quickly became a symbol of nonconformity and rebellion.

The Ganz Works, one of the biggest industrial companies in Hungary, built housing sites for the workers on the outskirts of Budapest (today the 8th district). The residential area opened here in 1909. The company produced some service houses, and a community house as well, which was operated by the trade union of ironworkers (Vasas Szakszervezet) after 1945. In 1973, the Hungarian Young Communist League (KISZ) Committee of the Ganz-MÁVAG factory created a youth club there. Between 1974 and 1982, the club was open five times a week. Gyula Nagy started working there in 1974 as an agitprop educator, and he soon became the leader of the youth club. This club was the predecessor of Fekete Lyuk.

In 1980, squatting and the punk lifestyle began to become more and more popular among young Hungarian intellectuals, and this was also the time when the New Wave first appeared in Hungarian music life. Traditional, successful musicians rejected the newcomers. The authorities regarded them as representatives of the political opposition. Concerts were organized for some of these bands in the Vasas cultural house.

The new wave bands differed from the mainstream musicians since they had more direct contact with their audiences than the big Hungarian rock bands, which behaved like unapproachable stars. The new bands, moreover, played in small youth clubs where the audiences were smaller too, the music groups came quickly one after another on stage, and many of the musicians could hardly play any instrument. That all gave the spectators the impression that they also could be on stage, and it made these new bands more loveable. Their lyrics criticized the system, and not only the communist regime, but also Western consumer society, and they emphasized the importance of complete liberty, with lyrics which touched on traditional anarchist theories.

Gyula Nagy started to work in the Ganz-MÁVAG Vasas Cultural House in 1984. He organized concerts there with the other agitprop educator, Tamás Pap. For these concerts, they had to get approvals both from the local police unit and from the municipal district council. They could host bands which had minimal chances to play elsewhere in the country. Usually, the police gave formal approval of the district’s decisions. However, the organizers had to present the lyrics of the future concert in advance to the Cultural Unit of the Main Police Headquarters of Budapest (BRFK). They also had to provide tickets to the police, which sent undercover agents to these concerts. Typically, they only observed the performances, but they had the right to stop the concerts.

Black Hole Club (1988) Photo by: Tamás Urbán / fortepan.hu

On January 1, 1988, Ganz-MÁVAG split into seven individual factories and nine divisions. That was the day when the directory board permitted the opening of a new youth club in the former bath. The leader of the initiative was Gyula Nagy, who directed the previous club within the Vasas Cultural House. The mere fact that permission was given for Fekete Lyuk to operate showed the softening of the dictatorship in the late 1980s. Gyula Nagy and his friends had hatched plans to establish a musical centre for the Hungarian New Wave in 1985. In the winter of 1988, the bands Balkan Futurist and Baby Line created Fekete Lyuk with friends of the musicians. They started to build the stage, and they covered the wall with graffiti, while at the same time, they preserved the rundown form of the rooms.

The members of Baby Line suggested that nobody should get any money for the concerts. Instead, using the money they brought in, the club bought microphones, loudspeakers, and lights. The musicians and their friends formed an intimate community around Fekete Lyuk. The leader of the band Trottel, Tamás Rupaszov created and edited the newspaper of the club, Lyukság (Holey Things), with László Marton. Around this time, a popular punk club in Kispest was ordered to close down, and Fekete Lyuk managed to pull in its audiences. The pogo dance became popular, and nobody was bothered if someone lay down on a table or danced on the bar. Gyula Nagy remembers when Sotár, the lead singer of the famous punk band AMD, asked him whether Fekete Lyuk would accept them and their fans. Nagy answered yes, and from that time onwards more and more punks appeared in the club. Besides, skinheads and fans of Gothic music also frequently came to Golgota Street 3, which became the first multicultural underground pub in Hungary.

This community around Fekete Lyuk organized the concerts, and at the beginning, they led the bar of the club. Gyula Nagy only provided background through his connections to the authorities. Fekete Lyuk quickly gained symbolic importance. It became more than just a popular club because it also offered some rare space for free initiatives. The club housed, for example, an exhibition about Imre Nagy the Prime Minister of Hungary during the brief Revolution of 1956 organized by the Inconnu Art Group.

In 1988, thanks to the weakening of political and administrative control, cooperation between opposition groups became possible. The loosening of control over society in 1988 made it possible to open Fekete Lyuk. It began shelter for new wave and alternative music and thanks to the changes in the authorities’ control and the enthusiastic work of some young people, it became a symbol of the free initiatives. The bands could present alternative views of life and art in the club, views which included criticism of the communist system. The club won a kind of cult following, and its income multiplied. The conflicts which resulted in the decline and the closing of the club were all connected to money. On January 1, 1994, the director of the cultural house terminated the labour contract with Gyula Nagy. After twenty remarkable years, he was no longer the agitprop educator of the Vasas Cultural House. In the same year, the club closed.