Nightlife: Paris are you Berlin...still?
by Dame Caïman Where are the new places to hang out in Paris? From the Pompon bar/ club in the tenth district, which opened in October 2010, to la Gaite Lyrique, a venue in the third district devoted to concerts but also 'interactive visuals' and 'video games' which opened this month, citizens are being spoiled for choice.
These are godsends in a political climate where funlovers felt forced to create a petition in late 2009 to liven up Paris' nightlife. Most of that is put down to its being a densely builty city which wants to maintain a residential identity rather than a 24-hour party city identity. It's why you might experience your neighbours on the sixth floor chucking down buckets of bleach outside one of the most famous venues in Pigalle, chez Moune.
It is hard enough to find a good, long-lasting night as it is. There are a few specially organised 'soirees' which sell themselves on the promise of being big and running till the early hours. But they create equal madness in being ticketed events: you still need to plan yourself in advance rather than swinging by for the 'bon plan' (good tip for a night), and often whilst you might have snagged a last minute ticket, your friends won't have. Then you'll see that those events are either organised as electro parties in famous cultural landmarks such as the Grand Palais or the Pompidou museums, or that Paris leans on cities like Berlin to develop a night identity in venues in the suburbs, like the sold-out 'Die Nacht' party. Of course the legends of the Berlin party scene are often welcomed in venues like Batofar on the river Seine or the Rex club, an eternal dancefloor favourite. But the problem with the programme of Paris' newest venue, which celebrates a 2011 theme such as new arts and digital music, are old concepts like 'Berlin Next'. Is it because Paris is realising she is a dead town that she is starting to organise events called Berlin? It can't really steal from the German capital, where the metro stays open all night long on a Friday and a Saturday, allowing the city's living dead to pulsate its weekend bones.
At the same time, you can't pretend to still be hype if it wasn't in your DNA already, or before you closed down your most notorious party places, such as the former lesbian bar Le Pulp on the boulevards of the city. Did Paris need a 'Berlin effect' before? From elsewhere in France the capital is viewed as fun and glamorous. Bars or avant garde cinemas called 'Le Paris' will duly open across the country to be trendy. London and other European cities have their own version of Cafe Rouge and Michelin eating holes named after Victor Hugo novels, whilst 'Little Paris' in cities like Istanbul is just the trendy bar-going street. Maybe Paris is just about bars, dinners and glamour which stops at 2am when the tube shuts. Considered this is France, it is somehow good to show modesty and accept there is something better going on abroad. Anyway: Paris is dead, and the content of its abandoned nineteenth century theatres show that its proud spirit has given up.
To sound us out: French DJ Chloé's 'I Hate Dancing'. Catch her in Berlin - and Paris - in April
Le Pompon, 39 rue des Petites Ecuries, 75010 La Gaite Lyrique, 3bis rue Papin, 75003 Batofar, Quai François Mauriac, 75013 Rex Club, 2 boulevard Poissonnière, 75002 Chez Moune, 54 rue pigalle, 75009