Long list of memorable nightlife spots

Best Prague Bars & Clubs in the ‘90s

Another packed show at U Malého Glena, Glenn Spicker’s postage-stamped cellar jazz club. Filip Gondolán in 1999. Photo credit: Adam Trachtman.
Paul van Dyke at Radost FX in 1996. Photo credit: Adam Trachtman.
Iconic poster for Tam Tam club in the Slovanský dům. In 1994-95, this image was plastered across walls all over Prague. Photo credit: Nela Rimmerova.
Party night at Radost FX in 1999. Photo credit: Adam Trachtman.

Old Town

Al Capone’s

Dark, speakeasy-style cocktail bar near the former headquarters of the Czechoslovak secret police on Bartolomějská street. Slightly down-market compared with similar mid-‘90s cocktail spots, like Tretter’s and Bugsy’s, and all the more fun for it. One expat recalls they had a cocktail called “Mokele-mbembe,” named for a legendary monster in the Congo, and that the male bartenders dressed like they were going to a beach volleyball game. The late Petr Kellner, at one time the wealthiest man in the entire country, used to hang here.

Asylum

Short-lived but memorable cafe, gallery and performance space located at Betlémská 5. It was not far from the squat (and happening spot) “Zlatá Loď” on Náprstkova street, which ran from 1991-94.

Bílý Koníček

The “White Horse” was an ancient cellar club in a corner house on Old Town Square. This was apparently the club where musician Michael Kocáb and friends threw (or at least planned) a party for visiting musician Frank Zappa in 1990 (see “Hotel Kriváň” below). I remember it as a dark space for drinks and conversation. From the Expats FB group: "The White Horse had the most dangerous entry stairs of any bar in Prague. Steep, each step was tiny in area, and when it was wet or snowy weather, the wood surfaces were lethal. Add to this the fact that they served their beer in the filthiest glasses possible, and a visit there became a true adventure." These days, it’s a tourist trap bar and restaurant. I haven’t been downstairs in years.

Blatnička/Blatnice

Back in the day, you used to see lots of old-school wine bars (a “vinárna”) on Prague streets. These were wine-drinking alternatives to beer-serving pubs. The two were similar in that they were both casual meet-up spots, inexpensive and nothing fancy. Blatnička, at the end Michalská street, was one of the best. Cozy, with cheap Slovak wine. I once stole a glass here and hung onto it for years (I might still have it somewhere). The bar, now with an adjoining restaurant, is still open but appears more oriented toward tourists than locals.

Bugsy’s

One of several upscale cocktail bars that got rolling in the mid- to late-1990s cocktail boom that also brought to Prague Tretter’s and Hemingway Bar, to name a couple. This relatively refined place was popular with friends, and I spent many evenings here (even celebrated a few birthday parties.)

Chapeau Rouge

Frequently jammed multi-floor, multi-stage drinking den in the neighborhood behind the Týnský dvůr that got rolling in the mid- to late-‘90s. I spent Christmas Eve here one year (1998?) and the place was rocking. It got dragged down in public lore by the drug stories that came out of the place in the 2000s, and the streets outside the bar at night could get sleazy with dealers. It’s still a happening place, but doesn’t have the same buzz.

Dětský dům/Sluníčko/Klub X

Older Czechs have fond memories of the “Children's House” on central Na příkopě as a pre-Velvet Revolution wonderland for kids, with toys, clothes and lots of good things to eat (including legendary “Polar cakes” served in a green, waxed box and sporting a picture of an Eskimo). The “Sluníčko” club operated back then too but found new life for a couple of years as a raucous raver in the 1990s. Klub X, a separate club, then relocated to the space and carried on the party tradition here later in the decade. The building was thoroughly rebuilt in the 2000s and from street level, at least, looks totally unrecognizable. These days it houses a Zara clothing outlet and high-end corporate offices.

Duende

Late-90s addition to the Prague bar scene. Very relaxed, with a kind of Balkan or Yugo vibe.

From Dusk Till Dawn

Cozy bar on Týnská boomed in the mid-‘90s as Prague became popular as a film location for Hollywood productions, and the city hosted visiting actors and film crews. Developed a big-time rep as a coke bar.

Fetisch Club

Short-lived club from ’92 located at Pařížská 9 that I believe was somehow aligned with Slovanský dům’s “Ubiquity.” The interior featured art from Rachael Robb. To give you an idea of how much Prague has changed, that address is now home to both Gucci and Patek Phillipe branches. Did anyone ever go here? What was it like?

Iron Door

Glen Emery’s dark, short-lived cocktail bar from the late 1990s was a blast. A murky, crowded space with good drinks and always something going on. A shooting cast a pall over the bar and it eventually closed down.

Kafka Club

I distinctly remember a club here in the late 1990s, just down some stairs after entering a beautiful Josefov building at Pařížská 4. Alas, I can’t find one reference to it on the web. Does anyone have any concrete recollections?

Kamýk

Fabled early-‘90s party boat anchored in the Vltava near the Štefánikův bridge. Some recollections from Marek Gregor writing in Reflex: The boat originally came from Děčín in 1991. Czech actor Bolek Polívka met his wife, Marcela, here when she was tending bar. ODA once rented the boat for their marginally successful 1992 election campaign, which explains why Czech politician (and former ambassador to the United States) Michael Žantovský hung out here for a while. Expats loved it too (from the FB group): “We would get raided every now and again by the cops, and in the early days everyone would throw their stash overboard. People soon realized the cops were just curious and poking their heads in to see what was going on (rather than searching or arresting anyone). There was a blind fella who used to replay classic chess games. He would follow the moves from a book in Braille. It was utterly bizarre.” The Kamýk sank in 1997.

Klub Lávka

Lávka, just below Charles Bridge, featured incomparable river views. I remember it in the mid- to late-‘90s as a fun, cheesy disco that appealed to everyone (Czechs, foreigners, tourists) of all age groups. The history of the club goes back to 1990 and it was immediately popular with the movers and shakers of newly democratic Czechoslovakia.

Kozička

Cellar restaurant and bar that in the late ‘90s was the last watering hole in the neighborhood around Dlouhá to close (at 4am). At that time, I lived not far from the bar and was working overnight shifts at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. I couldn’t sleep on my nights off, so I’d drift over here to hang out. One night at closing, the bar was still hopping. Instead of calling it a night, I invited the entire bar (maybe 20 people, all strangers) back to my apartment to continue the party (true story).

Legends

This cellar space, just at the entrance to the Týnský dvůr, behind the Týn Church, has had a vaguely Irish or at least expat-oriented sports bar, club or restaurant for as long as I can recall (at least from 1992). Legends reigned for several years into the 2000s. Now the space is occupied by ‘The Dubliner” Irish bar.

Limonádový Joe

Dance club with live music in the corridor next to the Kotva department store was popular with Czech actors and film stars throughout the ‘90s. The venue’s superpower was a retractable roof that would open between sets to let the cigarette smoke out. In more recent years, it functioned as a casino, but I never went back. Now the complex is under renovation. I hope they at least keep that roof intact.

Mamma Klub

One of the original Old Town (Elišky Krásnohorské 7) student clubs and one of the first to close, in 1992. Marek Gregor quotes Czech musician Jan P. Muchow from the group “Ecstasy of St Teresa,” as saying the band played its first punk show there in 1991 for “the 15 people who could squeeze into the small space.” Christmas Eve in 1991 was another big night when then-Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiří Dienstbier arrived in a limo, had a few drinks and then smoked a joint (“vykouřil špeka”). Alas, the neighbors eventually complained about the commotion, and that spelled the end.

Marquis de Sade

John Bruce Shoemaker’s party spot that drew huge crowds – six deep at the bar -- in spite of the fact the floor was unsafe and the whole room could have fallen into the basement at any moment. The Marquis space is now occupied by the expensive Buddha-Bar hotel chain.

Meloun Klub

Immensely popular Czech student disco where people would form long lines along Michalská street to get inside. In the 2010s, Glenn Spicker opened up Propaganda Pub here, briefly giving the space new life.

Repre Klub

Part of Glen Emery's and John Bruce Shoemaker’s epic transformation of the grand Municipal House (Obecní dům) in 1993.  In addition to opening an American-style café, they added several loud, late-night establishments, including Repre, to the opulent salons of the building’s basement. It’s hard to exaggerate how groundbreaking Repre was. “The Clash” front-man Joe Strummer joined local band “Dirty Pictures” in April 1994 for a benefit concert and famously started the show with “London Calling.” Repre closed in mid-’94, after Glen and JB lost the lease to operate the building.

Roxy

When this alternative music club -- hived out of an old theater on Dlouhá třída with the exposed concrete walls and wires still dangling -- opened in 1992 it met the moment perfectly. Still one of the best small-concert venues in town -- and possibly even better than it was -- all these years later.

Taz Bar

Taz Bar was next door to Hotel Paříž (if I remember well). It could get pretty wild in there. One member of the Prague Expats FB group recalls a full-on scrap with chairs flying and everything. In such an upscale location, such a rowdy bar was probably doomed from the start.

Thirsty Dog (Žíznivý pes)

Not the one in the Municipal House (of Nick Cave fame) that operated in 1993/’94, this version was a carry-over, but had much the same raucous atmosphere throughout the ‘90s, on Elišky Krásnohorské street. Closed down sometime around 2000 (does anyone know the exact year?) and later became a touristy restaurant.

Tretter’s New York Bar

Glam cocktail bar on V kolkovně that was a hit from day one, sometime in the mid-‘90s. Tretter’s filled a need at the time for a dressier, late-night spot or destination cocktail bar.

U Hynků

Laid-back fusion between a traditional Czech pub and expat-friendly bar. U Hynků was located in the neighborhood behind the Týn Church at Štupartská 8

U Městské Knihovny

“The City Library” (at Valentinská 11, next to the Staroměstská metro station) wasn’t just a great name for a pub, it was a vibrant meeting spot for students, politicians and neighborhood folk. Since closing in the mid-‘90s, the space has had a rocky go. For a time, there was a good but expensive Thai restaurant here, and it’s now home to the Mistral Restaurant. I also recall the student café just across the street (now a Czech restaurant). In the early ‘90s it was known informally as “Depresso.”

U Staré Pani

Enterprising Old Town jazz club that pioneered the idea of serving (decent) food during the performance. Tables here were notoriously hard to book. I haven’t been in a while, but it’s still open.

U Zlatého Stromu

Cheesy Old Town pub along busy Karlova was open late and a reliable spot for a last round. I recall for a time they also had topless servers or strippers. It’s still around but probably more toned down.

U Zoufalců

This hidden basement club, located on several levels deep down an unmarked staircase beyond the house door at Celetná 12 (or 10?), was one of the best "secret clubs" of the early ‘90s. Czechs and expats alike recall moments like when President Havel and his entourage popped by at midnight on a random Tuesday. The band Support Lesbiens drank here. The club was founded by a relatively young guy, Pavel Beňo, who’d discovered the series of abandoned cellar spaces occupied by homeless people. Pavel apparently ran the club off the books, but it only lasted a year or so, closing sometime toward the middle of 1993.

A Mikuláš night party at Miš Maš, featuring DJ Loutka. Photo credit: Nela Rimmerova.
Miš Maš was not just a dance club, it was also a cinema with special movie nights. I love this throwback list of films. Photo credit: Nela Rimmerova.
A poster for a 48-hour, nonstop techno party at the Dětský dům club, Sluníčko, in 1995. Photo credit: Nela Rimmerova.
DJ Loutka was also the featured act for a house party at U Zoufalců in April 1993. The address is listed at Celetná 12 (though other sources put the address at Celetná 10). Photo credit: Nela Rimmerova.

New Town

AghaRTA

Does anyone remember when this popular jazz club was still near Wenceslas Square (before decamping sometime in the ‘90s to its current location: an old Gothic cellar near Old Town Square)? From a reader: "AghaRTA originally opened on 29 September 1991 in Krakovská 5 – named after Miles Davis’ album “Agharta” – he died on 28 Sept 1991."

Batalion

After hours rock club from the late’90s that quickly got tagged with the label, whether  true or not, of essentially a drug den.

Bunkr Klub

The best-known rock and music club of its day located at the far end of Lodecká street (at 1206/2) in a quiet part of New Town. Bunkr came into existence in 1991 on the second anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. It was considered the second “real” club of its type in Prague, after Újezd in Malá Strana. It was simply legendary (hard to describe), both for music and atmosphere. Bunkr closed in 1997 after neighbors complained about the noise. These days, it’s home to a neighborhood police station.

Fantova Kavárna

The grand Art Nouveau café in Prague’s Main Train Station was never a nightlife or drinking spot, but for a time the area was synonymous with one of the darker elements of the freedoms made possible by the Velvet Revolution and the influx of so many foreigners. In the early- and mid-1990s, this was the home of the “rent-boy” trade and the sexual exploitation of children. The station is still on the seedy side, but the area has been greatly cleaned up. My sense, thankfully, is that the scene no longer exists – or at least not here.

Fromin/Duplex

One of the biggest and best dance clubs on Wenceslas Square. The thing I remember best about Fromin was its ubiquitous, unusual “stick-figure within a circle” logo, but I don’t think I ever went there. One of the founders of the Ambiente restaurant chain, Tomáš Karpíšek, got an offer to manage Fromin in 1996 (which might explain the decent food). Later as “Duplex,” the club maintained a reputation for good food (unusual for a dance club). In 2003, Mick Jagger celebrated his 60th birthday there.

Lucerna Music Bar

An always dependable venue to see the most popular Czech bands, plus the occasional touring indie band from elsewhere in Europe or the US. This club and the adjoining Lucerna ballroom (Velký sál) helped to introduce to the new expat arrivals the staples of the mid-‘90s Czech music scene, including bands like “Už jsme doma,” “Žlutý pes,” “Buty” and “Lucie.” The ‘80s and ‘90s dance parties were huge (and remain popular to this day).

Music Park

A massive dance club, perfect for techno nights, built by Germans and located near the IP Pavlova metro station.

Red Room

Over the years, two separate Prague bars went by the name “Red Room.” This one, in the quarter behind the National Theater, came earlier, in the mid-‘90s. The walls were painted dark red, and indeed it was very dark inside. The second, on Myslíkova, ran throughout the 2010s. It also had red walls but had big street windows that made it much brighter inside. I liked both.

Reduta/Rock Café

Two separate clubs situated in the same building on Národní that houses the Café Louvre. Reduta is/was an old-school jazz club with a faint David Lynch vibe (think of the Llorando scene in the film “Mulholland Drive:”: a half-empty theater where the audience stares quizzically at an empty stage). Bill Clinton famously played the sax here in January 1994. Rock Café was a popular, standard-issue rock club that developed a seedy reputation for prostitutes and guys looking for under-age hookups. That scene was later pushed across the street to the dark alleys around the Church of St Martin in the Wall, and now it’s more or less gone altogether. “Karim,” a former male prostitute who now gives guided tours of Prague’s underworld, used to solicit here and still (at least as of a few years ago) hung out regularly at Café Louvre.

Slovanský dům/Ubiquity/Tam Tam Club

No Prague venue features as prominently in ‘90s lore as this grand cultural palace on Na příkopě. The Slovanský dům was left derelict during communism, but in the years immediately after 1989, it was resurrected to house a series of ground-breaking clubs and bars. These included John Bruce Shoemaker’s famous Ubiquity in 1992, featuring among other things dancers in cages above the dancefloor. The same space was later home to the equally renowned Tam Tam Club. There was the Subway bar and another club, Arcadia. I fondly remember the outdoor beer garden, where a half-liter of Pilsner Urquell cost 14 crowns (around $0.50). We used to call the hapless waiter, “Pan Smutný” (Mr. Sad). I also recall the pathetic, communist-holdover “Gril Bar” at street level. I would duck in occasionally for coffee (but never for food). The whole thing was closed down at the end of the ‘90s and remade into an upmarket shopping mall, cinema and restaurant complex.

Solidní Nejistota

Lively dance club and pick-up bar (in the days before Tinder) that got going at the end of the ‘90s and carried on into the 2000s. The long bar here was regularly lined with women who were almost too beautiful to be approachable, but that didn’t stop many of us from trying on many a Friday or Saturday night.

Sparing Disco

A total ‘80’s-style disco-bar on Ječna street that was popular in the early-‘90s with nursing students who were studying at a nearby nursing college.

U Sudu

Treacherous cellar wine bar not far from the Lucerna shopping passage. Four floors of dungeons. Still going strong today and one of the few bars in the city to flout the nationwide indoor smoking ban.

U Zpěváčků

Scruffy pub situated behind the National Theater that had a reputation as a dissident hang-out. The name, “The Singers,” was apt. The pub was apparently a favorite of exiled protest singer Karel Kryl. Oldtimers might remember the “Rock-Paper-Scissors” guy who only played “rocks.” He liked this place too.

An undated photo of the entrance to Klub X at the Dětský dům. The building was later totally renovated and this door was removed.
How the entrance to Klub X at Prague's Dětský dům appears today, a branch of the Swarovski glassmaker. Photo credit: Mark Baker.
Undated photo of the old beer garden behind the Slovanský dům. We came here all the time in the early-'90s. I see on the sign that a half liter of beer costs 14 crowns (about 50 US cents).
The Slovanský dům complex was closed and renovated at the end of the 1990s. The only clues to the old beer garden are a few of the older trees that are still there. Photo credit: Mark Baker.

Mala Strana/Smíchov

A Studio/Rubín

I never saw a show here at this small but storied theatre next to Jo’s Bar on Malostranské náměstí. Instead, in the early ‘90s, the café kept late hours and always felt like an insider’s secret for a quiet glass of beer or wine. Rubín had alternative street cred. The late Filip Topol, leader of the band Psí vojáci, came here regularly and even celebrated a birthday here. It still functions as a theater, but the café/bar only operates during and after performances (and no longer stays open very late).

Bluelight Bar

Opened in 1995, and still one of the few legit party bars in Malá Strana. Noise bounces off the poster- and graffiti-scrawled Gothic-arched walls to the point you can barely hear the person next to you, but good conversation was never the goal here. It’s more about looking around, soaking in the vibe and trying to position yourself at the bar so that at some point in the evening you’ll actually get a beer or cocktail. Bluelight survived a series of noise complaints a few years back and carries on to this day.

Cibulka

Cibulka was an abandoned former manor house and squat on a high hill in Košíře, west of Smíchov, and home to some pretty crazy parties. Just getting there was no easy feat. You had to take a tram and then climb uphill, using the sounds of the crowds or music to orient yourself. I only remember being here once, to attend the “Rock pro Zelený Tulipán” festival in July 1998. That show featured Psí vojáci, Jim Čert, the legendary poet and dissident Ivan Jirous, and several others – though even back then the scene had begun to feel like part of the past. I have no idea what’s happening now. The Cibulka website says the squat was cleared by police in 2015.

Jo’s Garáž

Dark space below Jo’s Bar that thrived in the late-‘90s. The place got going late and stayed open pretty much all night from what I recall.

Futurum

Energetic dance bar in Smíchov fondly remembered by members of the Prague Expats FB group.

Malostranská Beseda

In the early to mid-‘90s – before this rambling cultural house on Malostranské náměstí was closed and refurbished for what felt like an eternity --  this was a decent spot to catch Czech and visiting foreign bands. I remember on many occasions clambering up the stairs to the bar and performance space well ahead of a show to snag one of the venue’s few tables. Highlights include seeing a return concert by Marta Kubišová and a performance of a band from my hometown (Youngstown, Ohio) called “The Deadbeat Poets.” Still going strong and still a good place to hear music.

Ostroff American Bar

Cool bar and café on Střelecký island in the Vltava that opened to rave reviews in the late 1990s and got washed away – with the rest of the island – in the big 2002 flood.

Scarlett O’Hara’s

Fun, popular Irish bar located inside the storied “U Hradeb” courtyard at Mostecká 273. This secluded courtyard space was also home to the beloved Kino 64 U Hradeb cinema. Scarlett’s was a great space for drinks and a bite before or after a show. Alas, the whole space (including the cinema) is a cultural dead zone these days (aside from the McDonald’s that’s still there). In the years before 1989, the cinema was considered the most advanced in the country, and many prestigious premiers of Czech and foreign films took place here.

Swamp

I have no recollection of this place at all, so I’ll simply paste some text from the Prague Expats FB group: “It was near Újezd, can't remember exactly. A small club in a cellar. The name was appropriate because it was damp, and the dance floor was always slightly wet (beer and sweat). But it had atmosphere, and they played great music.” From a reader in 2024: “Club DJ´s SWAMP” was at Újezd 5 and is now the second 'Nightmare Horror bar' – the first has closed."

Újezd/Borát

Very probably the first proper rock club to open in Prague in the post-Velvet time-frame. Újezd got rolling in the spring of 1990. Incredibly cramped on three levels with a sort of beer basement downstairs, there was always something happening. Marek Gregor quotes Marcel Hrubý (who ran the club for a time) about a night in the early ‘90s that the Icelandic alternative group “The Sugarcubes” ended up performing here: "Velvet Revival was playing and suddenly I hear this incredible tribal art coming into the music, even Iva Bittová couldn't do it like that … after a while someone came up to me and said, ‘Come on, it's Björk singing.’” At some point the club dropped the Borát name and it now operates again as “Újezd.”

U Malého Glena

I can’t ever recall a show at Glenn Spicker’s postage-stamped cellar jazz club where the place wasn’t packed to bursting. Sunday-night open-mic nights were the best. You never knew who might stop by. Still happening and still mostly unchanged from the ‘90s.

Zanzibar American-Style Cocktail Bar

A relatively short-lived cocktail bar on a tiny lane behind Charles Bridge on the Malá Strana side that blossomed in the late 1990s. This is how Think Magazine described it: “Eclectic mixture of musicians, tourists and business types. Peruse the modern art (for sale) adorning the walls as you absorb the never- ending menu and chill out to the funky jazz sound.” For a time, I taught classes at nearby Anglo-American University and would pop in after class. Think says they offered vintage tequila ("Porfidio Barrique") at a whopping 1,000 crowns a glass, but I don’t remember it being stuffy or exclusive.

Ženské Domovy

I’ve ridden past this Women’s Hospital (or group of clinics) in Smíchov on the bus and never thought twice about it. Apparently in the early 1990s, they ran a good club here with some interesting shows. As one member of the Prague Expats FB group recalls: “The (late) Czech singer Daniel Nekonečný sang here. One night, he and Miloš Vacík performed some early versions of ‘Šum Svistu’ songs. The crowd went nuts and wouldn’t let them leave the stage. They performed the same three songs over and over until everyone became exhausted.”

The old Bunkr Klub, which was closed down in 1997 due to noise complaints. These days the building houses a neighborhood police station. Photo credit: Mark Baker.
The site of the former Stalin club and pirate radio station at the top of Letná hill as it appeared in 2024. Photo credit: Mark Baker.
The Chapeau Rouge bar and music club as it appeared in 2024. It's still going strong today. Photo credit: Mark Baker.
The former home of the ever-popular Marquis de Sade. These days, the premises are owned and run by the Buddha-Bar hotel chain. Photo credit: Mark Baker.

Out of the Center/South and East

Alterna Komotovka

High-profile Žižkov club on Seifertova, east of the railroad tracks, has hosted a series of mainly gay clubs for years (currently home to a bar called “Up&DownBar&Club”). It started out as an awesome venue for alternative, reggae and Prague’s budding, at the time, hip-hop scene.

Eden

The Eden Cultural Center in Vršovice was never a classic music club, but nights here often featured danceable techno (from a Canadian DJ) and the place was filled young, good-looking people. There were live acts too, remarkably including a little-known-band (in the mid-1990s) from Germany called “Rammstein.” What a night that must have been.

Hapu

I appreciated this understated cocktail bar, with comfy, well-worn sofas, on the boundary between Vinohrady and Žižkov. Hapu rode in on the cocktail wave of the mid- to late-1990s but resisted the temptation to go upmarket. Throughout its life, until the 2010s, it remained a casual spot to relax and grab a well-made drink.

Hotel Kriváň

Crumbling hotel off IP Pavlova wasn’t a drinking or nightlife venue. I stayed there once in the spring of 1989 (when it was a dilapidated “Class C” hotel). I’m including it here based on a detail in the Reflex article from Marek Gregor that’s too insane to leave out. I’ll paraphrase: In January 1990, news circulated around town that Frank Zappa was coming to the Kriváň. It was a Bunuel-like atmosphere, everywhere the tables overflowed with food and crowds of minions. Many notable figures came to decorate the hotel lounge in the master's honor. Of course, all in national colors. Despite the undoubted artistic qualities of the authors, the lounge looked quite creepy. The bands “Garáž” and “Půlnoc” played, which Frank himself joined for a while. He sang in Russian, and at times the audience wasn't sure if he was joking with them or if he was just mistaken. The old hotel is now a bank office.

Le Clan

Dark, mysterious, after-hours den that always felt more like a members-only club. I only ever stopped in occasionally for a last drink on a night out in Vinohrady. Based on the stories, though, I obviously missed out on a lot, particularly whatever went on behind the “secret door.” Still happening, by the way, so I guess it’s not too late.

Palác Akropolis

Everyone has a long list of groups/bands they saw at this famous Žižkov music club. For me, the first show I can remember is Youssou N'Dour in 1998. I also caught “The Strokes” in 2002 and “The Flaming Lips” around the same time. Akropolis was/is always more than a concert venue – there was the bar out front if you didn’t want to commit to the show and then the little bar areas just to the side of the auditorium to nip down for a quick drink.

Radiopalác

A little like the Municipal House or Slovanský Dům in that it was a bunch of venues crammed into one giant space. I remember the big Rondo-cubist ballroom from parties there in 1991/92, and then during the 1990s a couple of street cafes with decent cocktails and brunches opening up facing Vinohradská. The Radiopalác pretty quickly evolved into one of the main venues for Vinohrady’s emerging LGBTQ+ scene.

Radost FX

Radost opened at the end of 1992 and went on to become the best dance club in the city. Gregor in Reflex quotes an observer as saying that “for the first few weeks after opening, taxi drivers, moneylenders and people from the underground stood side by side. The underground then decamped to Bunkr because Radost was too nice and clean for them.” Whatever the story, Radost set the tone for Prague clubs throughout the 1990s and beyond.

Riegrovy Sady Beer Garden

I remember the days around 1991/’92 when this popular beer garden in the park was just a few scattered tables below some trees – and the whole area around JZP itself was nothing special at all. The garden has grown a lot over the years, but despite ups and downs is still a decent spot in summer to drink beer. If you’re ever nostalgic for the old days, the toilets haven’t changed in 30 years.

U Vystřelenýho oka

The “Shot Out Eye” epitomized for many what a Czech rocker pub could be. Forgotten Žižkov location, open late, occasional live music (or just drunken customers singing), eclectic clientele, and urinals with headrests mounted on the walls where you could place your head (to stop the room from spinning). It’s still open and still fun.

Out of the Center/North and West

Belmondo Revival Klub

Popular live music and DJ venue located within the KC Vltavská (Vltavská Cultural Center) in the big Functionalist building near the Vltavská metro station. Belmondo got rolling in 1992 and featured an eclectic mix, including punk and hardcore. Old-timers might remember names like “Laura a její tygři” or “Dan Bárta se svojí Illustratosphere,” which played here. The space was also instrumental in launching an earlier generation of Czech “Bigbít” (Big Beat) music. It’s been closed and remodeled in the intervening years. The last concert was in 2009.

Delta Klub

Located in the upscale villa district of Hanspaulka in Prague 6. Delta Klub functioned for a time as the home stage of the band Tata Bojs, and musicians like Vladimír Mišík, Zuzana Navarová and Plexis played here. Sadly, I can’t remember ever coming to a show at Delta. It closed in February 2008.

Dransy

One-stop shopping for punk or strippers, depending on the mood, on Evropská. It was too out of the way to go to regularly but apparently the place was popular among some Prognosis staff when their offices were nearby. The big billboard with a stripper was always hard not to notice on the way to the airport. Their FB page says they closed in 2013.

Exces Club

A former swimming pavilion across the Čechův bridge from the Hotel Intercontinental was briefly a dance venue, with lots of Brits and apparently local mafia too. It’s had many incarnations and is now home to “Občanska Plovarna,” a Thai restaurant and club. I haven’t thought about this place in 20 years.

La Bodega

Spanish-themed bar near Letenské náměstí with decent cheap wine, tapas and occasionally Flamenco dance nights. La Bodega was next door to another popular bar, Fraktál, and people simply gravitated from place to place. Like Fraktál, it was one of the few bars at the time where you could stand and drink (and mingle), rather than remain seated at a table.

Letná Beer Garden

One of the city’s best-loved beer gardens was little more than hovel of rickety chairs and benches in the ‘90s before getting a big upgrade sometime around 2010. I miss the early free-wheeling vibe. Basically, it was “bring your own booze and chill.” The upgrade brought new rules (you can only consume alcohol bought on-site) and loads more tourists, but the view is still great.

Mecca

One of the first popular dance clubs/bars to open in the far-flung eastern half of Holešovice, occupying a dreary, industrial warehouse space. Nevertheless, from the late-‘90s through the early 2000s, Mecca was the most popular club in town for glam disco nights, fashion parties and cocaine.

Miš Maš/Disco Letná

Weekend dance club on busy Veletržní situated in a former communist-era cinema. A night might typically start with movies from 8pm to 10pm or midnight, and then an all-night music party (early house w/ colorful beats) until morning. Mornings might bring another film, followed by more dancing if the crowd was into it. One of the first clubs to use a strobe light to good effect. Disco Letná came later in the ‘90s and was more of a glitzy dance club.

O'Brien

Contrary to the other Irish bars of the ‘90s, which were mostly located in the Old Town or Malá Strana and drew a tourist or expat crowd, O’Brien was situated on a quiet stretch of residential Janovského street in Holešovice and popular among Czechs. In the mid-90s, it was a favorite after-hours watering hole for employees of The Globe Bookstore & Coffeehouse, just a couple blocks away.

Práce

Hard-drinking bar near Letná park that played off the “communist” theme with its name (“Work”) as well as the red star on the logo and the door. It stayed open late for the neighborhood and I remember decamping here for a last drink on many occasions in the late-‘90s and early 2000s.

Stalin

One of the earliest music clubs to open after 1989 occupied a former bunker on top of Letná hill, below where a statue of Josef Stalin once stood. Reflex’s Gregor writes that the “Totalitní zóna” was first funded by the Ministry of Culture and was unique for its time in Europe. The space was home to an early pirate radio station, “Radio Stalin” (later Radio 1), which broadcast from the second basement floor. These days, in summer, the surrounding terrace runs an outdoor bar and music club.

Strahov Klub 007

Prague’s best venue for hard-core was/is located near the Charles University dorms adjacent to giant Strahov Stadium. Last time I made the trek up there was in March 2009 to see the Philadelphia-based “doom jazz” band, “Stinking Lizaveta.” Great show. The club is still going at it all these years later.

Štvanice

Old-school Czech dance club located on an island in the Vltava across from Hilton Atrium Hotel. One of the early fans of this club writes that apparently the DJ for a time in the ‘90s was a dwarf, which made the experience more memorable. The building is still standing and still functions as an alternative dance club/disco.

Wakata

Super-chill DJ-turntable lounge operated from a hard-to-find space in the residential neighborhood near Letenské náměstí. According to the website, the club closed in 2015, though it may be carrying on somewhere that I don’t know about.

Find links to Marek Gregor’s entertaining two-part series in Reflex on the “The Drunken Revolution of 1989 and its Consequences” here: Part One and Part Two.

*Adam Trachtman’s excellent graphic novel “Immersion” recalls the epic stories of the ‘90s in a witty and highly entertaining way.

(Keep scrolling for more photos).

Old file photo of the Belmondo Revival Klub within the Vltavská Cultural Center near the Vltavská metro station.
Poster announcing a Tindersticks concert at Repre Klub in Feburary 1994.
U Zoufalců sponsored a house party in March 1993 at the Pyramide theater at the Výstaviště exhibition grounds. The Pyramide used to host lots of happenings like this. Photo credit: Nela Rimmerova.
Rare Ubiquity poster announcing what looks like a Halloween party -- probably in 1992. Photo credit: Nela Rimmerova.
Poster announcing a Tam Tam dance event in May 1994. Photo credit: Nela Rimmerova.
Looks like a Halloween party in 1993 on the Kamýk party boat, that was anchored in the Vltava near the Štefánikův bridge. Photo credit: Nela Rimmerova.
An early programme from May 1994 for Alterna Komotovka, a high-profile Žižkov club on Seifertova. I see Tiger Lillies and Už jsme doma, a Czech prog rock band that's still playing.
If it wasn't for this Ken Nash illustration, I would have completely forgotten about the Fetish (or Fetisch) club that operated for a short time in 1992. Image credit: Ken Nash.
Fantova kavárna in 1996, before renovation, at Prague's main train station. In the early-'90s, this was unfortunately ground zero for underage sex trafficking. Photo credit: Adam Trachtman.
A poster for a DJ night in 1992 for the short-lived Fetisch club at Pařížská 9. Photo credit: Nela Rimmerova.
A night at Asylum, a memorable cafe, gallery and performance space that used to operate at Betlémská 5. Photo credit: Ken Nash.
The entryway to the Reduta Jazz Club and Rock Cafe, just below the Cafe Louvre. In the '90s this area could get seedy, but today it's been greatly cleaned up. Photo credit: Mark Baker.
Roxy, seen here in 2024, is still going strong and as popular as ever, some three decades after the club was founded. Photo credit: Mark Baker.
One of the main entryways of Slovanský dům in 2024. These days the complex is home to upscale boutiques, restaurants and a popular cinema. Photo credit: Mark Baker.
The former Hotel Kriváň is now a bank office. Back in 1990, it was flophouse hotel where Frank Zappa's visited to the city that year was lavishly celebrated. Photo by Mark Baker.
Blatnice, an old communist-era wine bar at the end Michalská, was one of the best of its type back in the day and is still operating at the same location. Photo credit: Mark Baker.
The beautiful entryway to the old Czech student disco, Meloun, how it looks in 2024. Photo credit: Mark Baker.
I could swear this was the old entryway to the Kafka Club at Pařížská 4, but there's not a trace of the old place to be seen. Photo credit: Mark Baker.
Lucerna Music Bar (pictured here in 2024) is still hosting a mix of popular Czech bands and the occasional visiting indie band. Photo by Mark Baker.
Bílý Koníček on Old Town Square. The cellar space used to be pretty cool. These days it's a cheesy tourist restaurant. Photo credit: Mark Baker.
The entrance to the old Bar Práce on Kamenická near Letná park how it appears today. Photo credit: Mark Baker.
The building that once held the Belmondo Revival Klub near the Vltavská metro station. It's been thoroughly renovated and now holds mostly office buildings. Photo credit: Mark Baker.

Comments

  1. Mark,
    Thank you, your page is really excellent. It rought back many good memories.
    A few more little bits of information that may be interesting for you:
    AghaRTA was originally opened on 29 September 1991 in Krakovska 5 – named after Miles Davis’ album “Agharta” – he died on 28 Sept 1991.

    When I was looking for the address of AghaRTA I found this http://pragueonline.cz/martijn/jazzscene.asp
    which reminded me of many nights in U Bubenicku – Myslikova, not the restaurant but the club at the back downstairs- and also Chelsea’s opposite Stavovské divadlo.

    “Club DJ´s SWAMP” was at Ujezd 5 and is now the second “Nightmare Horror bar” – the first has closed.

    There was a second Zanzibar that I believe opened in the late 90’s at Americká 152/15

    Ženské Domovy used to have a pool hall with snooker tables too – played there often.

    The Blatnice that you have pictured is indeed a restaurant, however all part of the same group, the original and still very Czech wine bar is next door (Vino Blatel – with Czech country music on Wednesdays) and next door +1 (Blatnicka – has been there since early 90’s) and opposite at Michelska 5 a small very Czech “Vino Blatel Vinny Bar”. It is rare to find someone who speaks English in there.

    Looking forward to more.

  2. This article and the previous one, on restaurants from the 90s, are really bringing back memories. Except that it’s such a long time ago, I’m having a hard time connecting things, like I almost need a map of the places you’re mentioning because some of them bring a bell but I’m not sure which is which. We were big groups of Sum Svistu back in the day. I remember going to their concerts outside the center in a big dance floor venue with three levels of seats and viewing. I remember that the wine was so cheap that we used to buy it by the bottle and offer it to other people there ; made lots of friends that way check and non! Then I think they started playing at Lucerna and then at a trendy place on Na prikope. At one point we were going every week, but it was less fun in the smaller club. I remember at trendy after-hours bar near Nanetsu Miru that we went to after the David Byrne concert – and where was that held??). Does anyone remember the names? What was the name of the club right down on the Vltava with indoor and outdoor tables and dancing? I’ve even been looking up 90’s dance hits to try to jog my memory. LOL

    I was a big fan of the Globe when it opened and it was one of the places I made sure to visit when I was there 6 years ago! Then bought a ton of books and had to carry them around for the rest of the day while touristing. The beer-tasted flight was also good and the atmosphere, too. My life is so much more boring these days…

    • Thanks for writing! I think the Talking Heads show was at Divadlo Archa … sometime around ’98 or ’99. I was at the show myself. The Vltava club might be Lavka?

  3. Excellent piece, Mark! Definitely brought back a lot of fond memories at many if not most of these places. Perhaps an updated list could include mention of the original Konvikt Klub in Old Town as well as that swinging, swaggering expat hangout near the Globe – Derby. Probably the first place I tried Velvet beer. Don’t hold that against me!

  4. oh that´s a bittersweet one. The flyer for 48 hours of techno in Sluni?ko made me laugh. I was 15 at the time and there was just SO.MUCH.DRUGS everywhere.

  5. Thanks for replying! Even with all my typos, you could still understand what I was trying to write. ? Lávka sounds about right.

    Huh. I was in Prague from about September 1991 until 1994, and the concert was David Byrne. Could he have come again? It was a really small state and everyone danced. I remember Clare Brooks and I flirting with the roadies at the door because we were trying to distract them from noticing that we were smuggling in a bottle of something under Clare’s coat…

    Really cool that you worked for Radio Free Europe! When did you arrive in Prague? Did you work for the Prague Post at some point? (Wondering if I still have the paper with the story about the pink tank. Might have been Prognosis, but I’m pretty sure I kept that paper.)

    My daughter has asked me to write my life story so she knows how I’m connected to all the people on my life. So just wanted to say that it’s so cool to see photos and how helpful they are to my memory. And wow, that Nela Rimmerova kept all those posters.

  6. Loved this list, Mark. Thanks again. So many memories!

    There is one place that I’m sure existed but it’s not on the list. It was called Nostalgie and was off the tourist street leading from Staromak to Charles Bridge (Karlova)

    It was down a stone corridor, through a door and down some steep steps. Basically you had to know about it.

    I remember one night Ondrej Hema from Zluty Pes was playing the piano. It wasn’t planned. He was just there drinking and played a few songs for everyone.

    It was a wild place. Probably 1995/1996.

    Anyone remember it?

      • It was right off Karlova. I think before it turns right (after the Blue shop, with your back to Sraromak). It looks like it’s a Trdelnik place now (above ground). I should see if there’s anything downstairs now. I’ll investigate the next time I’m around there. ?

  7. Lovely article. Brings back a lot of memories. I used to work in Tam Tam club from 93-94. I used to DJ in the back room. Before that I DJ’d in the reggae club on Hybernska 16(?) just near namestry republicky. It used to be run by Bourama Badji the lead singer of the reggae band Hypnotix. I have great memories of those times and watching the band play in countless places I have forgotten the name of now. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

  8. I didn’t see “La Fabrique” at Uhelný trh 423/2 – later became Kraftwerk then Starsky and Hutch and has just opened as Šatlava. The steps down were very scary – not to be attempted after a drink.
    Also Ultramarin in Ostrovni, underground club with big couches in one corner room – now Hotel Elite.

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About the author

Mark Baker

I’m an independent journalist, travel writer and author who’s lived in Central Europe for nearly three decades. I love the history, literature, culture and mystery of this often-overlooked corner of Europe, and I make my living writing articles and guidebooks about the region. Much of what I write eventually finds its way into commercial print or digital outlets, but a lot of it does not.

And that’s my aim with this website: to find a space for stories and experiences that fall outside the publishing mainstream.

My Book: ‘Čas Proměn’

In 2021, I published “Čas Proměn” (“Time of Changes”), my first book of historical nonfiction. The book, written in Czech, is a collection of stories about Central and Eastern Europe in the 1980s and early ‘90s, including memories of the thrilling anti-communist revolutions of 1989. The idea for the book and many of the tales I tell there were directly inspired by this blog. Czech readers, find a link to purchase the book here. I hope you enjoy.

Tales of Travel & Adventure in Central Europe
Mark Baker