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Marilyn Night Club

Marilyn Night Club

The Story of Marilyn

2024. június 30. - Marilynbar

 Marilyn Night Club, located on Baross Street, has been adding color to Budapest's nightlife for 31 years now. Naturally, the windows are impossible to see through—because inside, bombshell dancers are busy stealing the guests' hearts at the tables—but the shockingly modest price list displayed beside the entrance still manages to inspire some trust. Anyone emboldened by this transparency, somewhat unusual for the nightlife, would do well to take a deep breath and step through the club's door into the pink-painted unknown.

This is indeed one of Budapest's most prestigious entertainment venues, this is indeed one of Budapest's most prestigious entertainment venues, skilfully navigated through the wild nineties by its female owner, creating an institution where not only big-time businessmen and Hollywood celebrities, but even the average person wandering in off the street can have an unforgettable evening.

Homely—that's the first word that comes to mind when stepping through the entrance. However, as your gaze wanders to the stage, the tables, or the shower cubicle where girls are undressing, entirely different adjectives come to mind. The space is defined by a modern interior, subtly exciting lighting, a stage designed for pole dancing, comfortable armchairs, tables specifically built for tabletop dances, and a long bar counter. If the first thing the guest notices is the pretty bartender, they inevitably wonder: if the bartender looks like this, what must the dancers be like? Of course, the question is purely rhetorical, as the answer hits you squarely through your optic nerves.

Thirty years ago, the genre of strip clubs further west meant more or less safe adult entertainment, but things played out very differently here. In 1985, Rózsaszín Cica (Pink Kitten) opened on Wesselényi Street, which was Budapest's first private strip club, where initially everyone could find what they were looking for—soothing bar music, pretty ladies, and good drinks for an exciting evening.

Then, around the regime change, Budapest’s nightlife was flooded with mafiosos.

 

 

There is another way

 

On May 21, 1993, Katalin Csomós opened Marilyn, then named Blue Angel. She was in her early twenties, and at that time, the Budapest nightlife was hardly calibrated for fresh beginners. Luckily, she had some experience with well-known figures of the underworld.She started her career at Malév, where she had to work tirelessly for a non-competitive salary, so after two years, she decided to say goodbye to the nostalgic Hungarian airline and began working as a waitress at an entertainment venue in the truck parking lot on Nagykőrösi Road. The daily life of the disco and restaurant was heavily influenced by the organized crime that re-emerged in post-regime change Hungary. “Fights were regular, the ambulance often had to come out, and the police were frequent guests. It was unbearable in the long run,” says Kati, who also acknowledges that the connections she made there later significantly eased her way.

   

In the disco, the bouncer was Zoli Seres, who already had a serious name then, and later became a well-known figure in Budapest's underworld. Kati maintained a good relationship with him, which at the time was akin to a life insurance policy if one wanted to succeed in the nightlife. Weapon and drug trafficking started appearing here too, along with increasingly dangerous individuals exploiting the uncertainty and chaotic power dynamics of the transition.

Despite the obvious dangers—or perhaps because of them—hospitality was lucrative, but after a year and a half, Kati decided to leave Nagykőrösi Road and continued at Rózsaszín Cica, which had become a real den of vice a few years after opening. Laci Pém, a former Hungarian champion and European bronze medalist boxer, was the bouncer, and the owner replaced all the hostesses and dancers every two months so that the gangsters relaxing at Cica could always meet fresh faces when they wanted to spend their money there.

Kati worked as a waitress here for a year, then left and moved to Pigalle, a place that entertained its audience with a distinguished variety of shows at the time, hence the gangsters looking for nudity tended to avoid it. On stage were Kati Rácz and Lajos Turi singing, and the owner—partly at his wife's request—maintained that there would be no stripping here. Kati first tasted what it was like to manage a nightlife venue when the owner went up to the Castle to set up Old Firenze, and she, along with a few colleagues, took over running Pigalle. They transformed and renamed it Love Chance, but this entertainment venue did not last long.

This is where the story of Marilyn truly begins. In 1993, Kati, along with two silent partners, rented the premises at 4 Baross Street, which had previously operated as a bean soup restaurant and was left in a terribly rundown state by the previous tenants. She renovated and refurnished it, then the sign “Blue Angel” was put up on the facade, and thus began the great journey. The young woman, newly a business owner, had a simple goal:

to run a successful nightclub that was not built on ripping off customers and catering to underworld figures.

A noble idea, a bit easier to conceive than to achieve.

 

 

Rocky Beginnings

 

The Budapest nightlife of the nineties had many shocking elements. The somewhat romantic figure of the sneaky criminal was replaced by Serbian, Turkish, and Albanian gangsters, with the local bad boys quickly catching up. As Kati puts it, “These guys weren’t kidding. They’d stand in front of you and stab you if it came to that.” The police, paralyzed in the control vacuum after the socialist order, were almost helpless against the bubbling underworld. There was a shooting almost every week in the capital, and the conflicts and showdowns between gangs were increasingly frequent headlines.