One can easily, but mistakenly, take Casa De La Música for just another Budapest hostel, if a much more colorful one than the average. But it is far more than that...
“It is like music,” founder Martin Zsarnóczky mused. “Casa De La Música is not just a place you are, but the feeling it creates. It is something that must be felt to be understood.” If so, it is a deeply layered feeling, indeed. Casa De La Música is a multimodal facility, listing on its website (media) studios to let, student residences, casting facilities, an event hall and camps and minicamps on site, as well as the hostel. That’s a lot, to be sure, but a recent tour of the facility with Mr. Zsarnóczky and Sales Director Alija Pongracz revealed that, for good reason, the former hat and helmet factory is much more.
That demand arose from the rental of the location’s event and studio facilities to production companies. Soon, the idea of a one-stop production support services venue had arisen, including living spaces and catering facilities.
The latter grew to encompass commercial kitchen rentals and also an “ancient foods” catering service. From the studio rental business came casting facilities, which during my visit were playing host to both VIVA Television and “X-Factor” Hungary.
But Casa De La Música is not simply based on a “hardcore, business-to-business” economic model. There is creativity here in almost every centimeter of space. RoHAM, whose creative endeavors (including their self-named art magazine) are well-known in Budapest, operates two separate ground-floor bar spaces. One of the bars is a gallery of sorts, hosting an array of works which cover the walls, the furniture and even the ceiling.
The other space is sleek, clean in black-and-white, a tunnel-like bar, kitted out with a small stage where artists and DJs have been known to drop in and perform. One person immediately came to mind while Martin showed me the space, “An Australian girl, a musician, was staying over during her tour,” he said. “She went and got her guitar, and played all night.”
She, apparently, was feeling the music. In what is obviously a typical synergy for Casa De La Música, Roham is also a resource for Hungarian film, creating props and design for futuristic and art-house productions.
Those, in turn, often end up in their gallery-style bar space. Harmonies and synchronicities continuously bubble in this cauldron of commerce and creativity. An unused space became an impromptu gallery for exhibitions, but since some find little merit in visual arts, certain conditions were emplaced.
“The artist must also give a small performance for the people who come,” Alija imparted, her smile gently mischievous.
“So they get on stage, play an instrument, share another kind of creativity, so no one gets bored.” Performance itself is on sale here, too. Dance classes are offered in a variety of styles. Cooperatively developed cooking, photography and other classes are also offered. Once again, synergy blooms with the hostel and the student residence businesses.
“A couple can perhaps send the children to a day program while the mother attends a dance class and the father has a drink at our pubs,” Martin noted. “We are very family friendly. As if to push his point, a pair of children ran out onto the deck, and proceeded to happily pile into a good-sized inflatable pool, their mother looking on, relaxed, as she sipped from a beer and perused a newspaper.
Even the paint is family-friendly. Stripes of colour reminiscent of architecture and the national flags of the Latin world rise from the floor and reach toward the sky inside the plaza. Outside, the stripes of colour are horizontal, and stand out among the drab grays of nearby edifices.
The effect is warm and inviting, lively. As far as the hostel itself goes, accommodations range from private rooms to dormitory-style rooms with multiple bunks. Locker rooms and all of the expected accoutrements are available, and free WiFi is reachable from any place in the complex.
The Casa features a terrace café with an excellent menu and a breakfast special for guests, a sports bar with a small studio, which Martin plans to grow into a turnkey production space. A café managed by Roham is always open at the entryway, as well.
Asked in jest if a person might come to stay, take a dance class and be cast for a movie in the same day, Martin smiled and tilted his head. “Yes, this is entirely possible,” he said. One cannot help but think it inevitable...
Casa De La Música 1088 Budapest, Vas u. 16, Tel: 06 70 938 8888 www.casadelamusica.hu