They call Budapest one of the most incredible city in Europe (if not in the whole world!) and I am the one who never had a doubt about it.
I remember my first day in this city (night actually), when I arrived around midnight, picked up by my Hungarian friend and one hour later I was already on the dance floor in Corvintető. Back in 2010, they organized dubstep parties every Wednesday and that time I felt much younger and full of energy. All in all, I did not mind to party till 3 am, knowing that the next day at 8 am I’m starting my new job! Who would give a shit? Would you?
Nearly 5 years later I am sitting in one of my favorite coffee places in Budapest – KAHWA (Belgrád rakpart 19, across Gellért hill on Pest side) and smiling when I think about all those crazy memories which just come into my mind.
When I arrived here, I was actually in a privilege situation because I already had some friends in Budapest with whom I could hang out in the city. So I did not really feel like a loser. I also met a lot of newcomers and ‘old comers’ through AIESEC, but for your own good, I will skip the level of parties organized by core members of this organization – they always chose the most douche venues in Budapest!
Now imagine that you are coming on your own to Budapest from any other part of the world and you literally don’t know anybody here, plus Hungarian language is not the friendliest one either. What would you do? Don’t think too hard as in Budapest we have two guys who already asked these questions to themselves few years ago and they came up with the simplest and greatest solution ever – they just started to organize informal meetings in downtown Budapest, where everyone could participate. From few people who came to grab a drink and met new people, it expanded to nearly 8000 followers, who have bimonthly meetings in AnKERT club.
During last event, I was teasing with my questions, one of the co-organizer – Mehdi Benaniba, who was talking with such passion about the beginnings of ‘International Meeting Point’ event.
The Spoiled Queen: International Meeting Point is one of the coolest event in Budapest. How it all begun?
Mehdi Benaniba: It started in 2012, when Ivan (the IMP Godfather) decided to organize a free and informal meeting in a kert downtown Budapest, the idea was inspired by another meetup dedicated to french speaking people, the concept remain the same but the IMP is open to whoever is in town and feels like attending the event. There are no strict rules to participate, you just have to come with your best mood and start making new friends. We organize it every second Wednesday at Anker’t, next one is planned for the 24th of June.
The Spoiled Queen: What is the main idea behind this event?
Mehdi Benaniba:We (almost) all like to meet new people and make new friends with whom we will share nice time during our stay in Budapest, when you arrive in a new city you know nothing and no one, the main idea is to help people getting in touch with locals and expats living in the city for a while. We don’t dedicate this event to a certain type of people or to promote a message or a business, in fact there are all kind of people, from various country and with with various backgrounds, some are working, others are Erasmus and some are just only visiting the city for the week. But they are all coming to the IMP because they heard good feedback about IMP.
The Spoiled Queen: What are the benefits of attending IMP event?
Mehdi Benaniba: Beside providing a spot to meet new people, we (the IMP Ambassadors) are welcoming them with a free shot, provided by the bar, also we give to all our guests a free wristband with numbers on it, we use these numbers for the two raffles with nice prizes to win. Finally there is a dance floor with a DJ, so if you feel like exercising your dancing skills it’s also possible. For first timer at the event we recently implemented a table with a smiley balloon for them to gather and meet, we though that it might be easier for newcomers to break the ice.
The Spoiled Queen: Do you feel that expats/tourists have a real chance to blend with locals during IMP event? Do you think Hungarian became more open during those meetings?
Mehdi Benaniba: Sure, expats/tourists will meet with locals as the event always counts more Hungarians than foreigners. Then we can’t really hold the hand of each attendee, that’s why they have to step forward and go talk to others, they never know who they will meet. I don’t know if Hungarians became more open during this meeting, but if they are coming it means they already are. Maybe we should ask a native about it.
The Spoiled Queen: Do you think that by organizing such events you actually contribute something to the local community?
Mehdi Benaniba: Somehow yes, giving the chance to enjoy Budapest at the fullest, this city is fun, even alone, but it becomes a crazy one when you enjoy it with friends. In addition to the event, which is the physical place where IMP members can meet, they can keep in touch on social media via our facebook group, in this group we are trying to provide useful info and help, we do our best to keep this group ads free, but each time a member is looking for help, the community is trying to provide a solution.
The Spoiled Queen: This event is free of charge but has so many followers already. Have you ever though to make money out of it and turn it into proper business?
Mehdi Benaniba: We ever discussed about this but we never really came up with a business plan as this is not what we are aiming. The fact that the event is free is also what makes its strength and good reputation, participants don’t need to affiliate themselves or get a membership card, the only requirement to participate is to be in town when the event takes place.
The Spoiled Queen: What are the future plans regarding IMP? Are you going to expand such events across Europe?
Mehdi Benaniba: Future plans are to keep running the event, maybe find other interaction both online and during the event. It could be great to see the event exported to other countries, maybe one day, and I’d be curious to see how it evolve, as so far we’re launched only in Budapest, where the environment is friendly for this kind of event.
If you are a newcomer and wish to share your precious time with some other people in the town, learn a new language or just have a fiery shot of palinka, don’t hesitate to join one of the ‘International Meeting Point’ events. Follow IMP crew on their Facebook
page and website
to be always up to date with the latest news.
Do you have similar events in your city?
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