Image by Noah Schmeling

Lisbon’s Bastion of Jazz, Hot Clube, Looking for New Home – Again

“We kept working all the time, and that’s what we intend to do now,” says Inês Cunha, President of the Board of Directors.

Damaged by last December’s torrential rains, Europe’s oldest-operating jazz club is looking for a new home.

Hot Clube, Portugal’s premier jazz club and the oldest-operating jazz venue in Europe, was closed indefinitely by Lisbon’s city hall, Câmara Municipal, on January 11, 2023. The city hall cited structural damage to the club’s home of 13 years, and the jazz association’s doors will remain closed until a new home is found.

By no means, however, does that stop Hot Clube’s work as one of the most resilient and impactful entities of Lisbon’s musical heritage.

The city’s decision to shut down Hot Clube came as a surprise to Hot Clube’s associates and board of directors, but the damage that prompted it was suspected far beforehand. Hot Clube’s home at Praça da Alegria 48, a building owned, operated, and ostensibly maintained by Câmara Municipal, was already in a state of disrepair for months before last December’s torrential rains that pummeled Lisbon and caused flooding across the city and at least one death.

According to Inês Cunha, who has served as the president of Hot Clube’s board of directors since 2009, the city’s inspection on January 11 was in fact the culmination of months of pestering from the board, which has been asking the city to review and amend the building’s structural damage.

What they did not expect, however, was a total and immediate shutdown.

“We didn’t imagine that their inspection would result in closing the club,” Cunha tells Atlas. “That was a total surprise.” 

This isn’t the first time Hot Clube has had to relocate as a result of the city’s neglect. Decades of improper care led to a short-circuit fire in the unoccupied top floor of Praça da Alegria 39, the club’s original home, on December 22, 2009. Hot Clube, located in the basement of the building, managed to escape the worst of the inferno, but was subsequently flooded after Lisbon’s fire department extinguished the building. Then, as now, the Câmara Municipal bore the responsibility of finding Hot Clube a new home. 

The old Hot Clube Cellar at Praça da Alegria 39, demolished in the city after the fire of 2009. Image from Public Domain.

While the new building was found in only a few short months after the fire, the necessary renovations took years to complete; the doors at Praça da Alegria 48 only opened in 2011, on the second anniversary of the fire.

During the renovation period, Cunha and the club’s other organizers did everything in their power to keep their events going and keep their musicians playing. Various concerts and workshops were held in different spaces around Lisbon, ensuring that no one had any doubts concerning the future of Hot Clube. “We kept working all the time, and that’s what we intend to do now,” says Cunha.

Now, Hot Clube’s second home has been slated for demolition, and the bastion of Portuguese jazz is on the lookout for a third. According to Cunha, Câmara Municipal has once again assumed responsibility for finding the club’s new home, and the board of directors expects news within the coming days. Cunha believes it is essential that the club stays close to its old stomping grounds. “We told them we want to stay in Praca da Alegria, we need to stay there.” 

That being said, it’s also important to find a permanent, sustainable home that won’t be destroyed or demolished in another decade or two. While the work and the waiting is hard, Cunha is confident that the city will make sure Hot Clube stays open and accessible. “I believe they are aware of how important Hot Clube is to this city.”

In the meantime, Cunha and the organizers of Hot Clube have no intention of slowing down. Work is underway to find temporary venues for the club and the host of musicians that are loyal to its stage. Cunha has expressed confidence that, with the cooperation of Câmara Municipal, Hot Clube will be able to announce official plans on their 75th anniversary, which takes place on March 19. 

“The best thing you can do for us is talk about us,” she says.

The president of the board feels it is paramount that the patrons and supporters of Hot Clube continue to generate excitement around the long-standing jazz association’s next chapter. With the help of the public and especially Hot Clube’s loyal associates, who pay monthly membership fees that go towards paying salaries, rent, and performers, Hot Clube has been able to survive nearly 75 years of bureaucratic neglect, one fire, two floods, and a pandemic.

This is certainly not the end for Europe’s oldest-running jazz club, and while Cunha works with her fellow board members and Câmara Municipal to open up the venue’s doors once more, Hot Clube’s School of Jazz remains at full attendance, with about 350 students of all ages learning to carry the torch of Lisbon’s age-old love affair with jazz music.

Check Hot Clube’s website and Facebook page to stay up to date on the club’s upcoming events, anniversary, and reopening.

On Key

You May Also Like

Madu Brings the Spirit of Brazil to Port to Port

On stage, Madu seems to become 10 feet tall; a charming and infectious giant of energy and vocal virtuosity. Her passion for music and her joy for sharing experiences through performance seem inexhaustible.

Lisbon Events Calendar

Logistics for planning things to do for an excellent day (or week, or month) in and around Lisbon, in English, including art, markets, and more.

Newsletter

Subscribe to
the Atlas Lisboa Newsletter

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close