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Velvet-curtained private booths where dancers thrust their gym-honed buttocks and pert breasts at grateful punters are doing brisk business. Later, the motley collection of stags — some in garish fancy dress — will decant into this beautiful city to dance the night away in its raucous clubs and bars, where a bottle of lager sells for as little as a pound.
Last week an inquest heard how satellite TV fitter Paul Bush, 36, from Weymouth was found dead at the bottom of a stairwell while in the Hungarian capital on a stag do. His neck was snapped and his trousers were around his ankles. His shoes and socks were removed and his wallet and phone were missing. But last week British coroner Sheriff Payne refused to rule out foul play. Anyone really drunk is a potential target. Budapest is awash with working girls and strippers vying for the disposable cash of drunken out-of-towners.
Other girls are offering something more titillating. For those with fuller wallets, stars from. But it is in this febrile anything-goes atmosphere that stags can find themselves being taken advantage of.
Tibor told me that at the more ruthless end of the market the working girls offer just one service — robbery. Sometimes they spike their drinks. There are many instances of this. Like many stag parties, when they arrived in Budapest the lads were taken on a six-bar pub crawl by a guide, beginning at 8. They scream and shout and throw things around.
They do stuff they would never do at home. Drug dealers in the street just a few metres from the bar openly accost stag groups, offering to sell cocaine and powdered ecstasy. It was in this teeming party district that Paul was last seen by his friends on a dancefloor at about 1am, before becoming separated from the group. Condoms were found at the scene. Reports that it also housed a brothel are wrong, according to those who work in the offices there. The lawyers would never allow it and we would see people come and go.