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Blaze destroys ‘unlicensed’ Bucharest club Bamboo

Bamboo, the Bucharest nightclub which burnt down early on Saturday morning, injuring more than 40 people, did not have an operating licence, a local government spokesman has revealed.

According to eyewitness reports, the blaze – which has echoes of the deadly fire at the Colectiv club, which lacked the proper fire permits, in October 2015 – was sparked by clubgoers smoking inside the venue. In a statement, Romanian president Klaus Iohannis said the city had been “very close to another big tragedy. Rules and laws have apparently been broken again.”

A number of Bucharest venues lacking fire exits were shuttered in the aftermath of the Colectiv disaster, which left 64 dead, and several more, including Expirat, La Bonne Bouche and Biutiful, were forced to close by a new law forbidding public gatherings in buildings considered to be unsafe in the event of an earthquake. Smoking was also banned indoors.

Speaking to Mediafax, a spokesman for Sector 2 – one of six administrative units (sectoare) of the city of Bucharest – said Bamboo had recently been fined for operating without a licence. “The club had a building permit for an expansion, which had been issued in 2012, but the work hadn’t been finalised,” he explained. “The club didn’t have an operating licence and was fined last year. This year, they were going to be fined again.”

The 2,000-capacity club, one of Romania’s most famous, opened in 2002 and was rebuilt after being destroyed by fire in 2005.

“The club didn’t have an operating licence and was fined last year. This year, they were going to be fined again”

The blaze comes after a series of early victories for fledgling Romanian promoters’ association Aroc. Founded in September 2016 – partly in response to the Colectiv fire – its members include ARTmania Festival, Emagic, Electric Castle Festival, Summer Well Festival, Sunwaves Festival, Twin Arts, Metalhead, Amphitrion, Wise Factor, Plai Festival and Mozaic Jazz Festival.

“Romanian promoters have never been actively involved in the process of regulating or controlling it [the industry], Aroc chairwoman Codruţa Vulcu, of ARTMania, says. “What became clear after the Colectiv fire, where we all lost friends and colleagues, is that we need to be better organised so that safety is improved everywhere and the professionals who work so hard in this country to put on concerts and festivals are not associated with those elements who cut corners and ignore regulations just to make a quick profit.”

Aroc has already helped block legislation that would have seen 5% of gross ticketing income diverted to a private association – run by the parties who introduced the legislation. Noting the private sector’s outrage, Vulcu says: “How can this even be a discussion in parliament? To tax the people who are investing in the cultural sector and centralise funds, with this private association having the legal right to use the money as it pleases?”

Vulcu vows Aroc’s members are determined to stand their ground and keep pushing for a “less corrupt sector, equitable legislation and a safer industry.”


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