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The Ruin of Me

In November 2018 Rachel and I took our first holiday since starting The Escape Key. It was a long weekend to Budapest in Hungary where we were also going to check out a new escape room called Anachronistica.

Rachel is co-owner of the Escape Key and when she’s not teaching art at a local high school, she’s maintaining the decorative and aesthetic elements of our escape rooms.

One of Rachel’s workmates told her that she just had to check out the Ruin bars of Budapest so on the first night our host Alpar took us to Szimpla Kert – the first and most famous of all the ruin bars.

What is a Ruin bar?

Think of a swanky cocktail bar all highly polished matching tables, obligatory vintage black and white pictures and designer lighting… now think the opposite! Ruin bars are often housed in somewhat rundown buildings and when Szimpla Kert opened in 2004 the owners, who didn’t have much money to decorate their new bar turned to junk and items from flea markets which adorn the walls ceilings in random and eclectic style. These relaxed, laid back bars with their crazy art installations now attract thousands of visitors.

I absolutely loved it, especially the creative ways some items were used – a shattered mirror pieced back together and stuck to a wall, a welders mask with flashing lights behind it and a spray painted shop dummy caught my eye. Whether thought provoking or not I loved that there was no explanation to these creations.

It was just in December 2019 just before Coronavirus made the news that a friend called round for a drink and under his arms were two shop dummy busts - one silver and one black. He reckoned I'd find a use for them!

He was right. Since opening an escape room business I've been constantly looking in charity shops, flea markets and skips for items that might decorate or become puzzles in one of our escape games. It was the forced closure of our The Escape key during the 2020 lockdowns that gave me the time and opportunity to put some of these random objects to use.

So in true Ruin Bar tradition ... no explanation, just some images from The Escape Key's

The "weird wall", as some of our staff have christened it has become a bit of a photo stop for players entering and leaving The Escape Key and has given us great exposure on peoples' social media.

As our Ruin Bar art wall grows organically we'll update this blog with new images.

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