DANCING THE NIGHT AWAY – LE BAL DE l’ELYSEE
by Jane Rosenstein, Bureau Chief, Paris
The ad to celebrate the 18 th birthday and the 300 th occurrence of Le Bal de Elysée Montmartre featured on a French internet site attracted my attention.
It was held on January 26, 2013 at the Porte de Versailles Convention Center in Paris instead of its usual location at La Machine du Moulin Rouge next to the famous Moulin Rouge with a red windmill in Montmartre where Can Can is performed. It was originally held at Elysée Montmartre , a building built in 1807 , but it burned down in March, 2011 and is still not reopened. La Machine du Moulin Rouge has the capacity to accommodate the usual 1500 attendees who pay 15 Euros to dance to rock and top hits played by Le Grand Orchestra de l’Elysée Montmartre which features singers and about 10 musicians.
It is held monthly and produced by Garance Productions. People from all walk attend. Although the majority of the crowd is French and from 25-40 years old, all are welcome. Natacha from Garance invited me to have this incredible experience .Why would people pay 25 Euros to go to a dance when the usual rate to enter a disco is between 10 and 20 Euros? I was curious!
The line up of invited guests for this special occasion included Jimmy Somerville, Patrick Hernandez who sang “ Born to Be Alive, Kim Carnes from Nashville who sang “ Bette Davis Eyes” and Partenaire Particulier which translates as individual partner because each one of us searches his/her individual partner, Richard Sanderson and Michel Vedette.
It was advertised as the biggest “boom” ever organized and it was with 4,000 attendees.
When I arrived about midnight some people were lining up to get in but the crowds were not there yet. I was early. I looked for the coat room but the line seemed about a hour long so I just kept my coat as did many others. A DJ was spinning tunes. Where were the invited guests and the large crowd?
Then I met Maxence Ariasylucas , a sports editor who likes to speak English. I told him that I was planning to stay until 2 A.M. He told me that no one leaves at 2 A.M. but rather at dawn! Most people arrive at 1 A.M. or a little later and stay the whole night. The live entertainment starts at about 1 A.M. I asked Max why so many people come and why this night was special. He told me people come to dance and also meet new people. Some marriages result. He said people like the idea of no dress code “ come as you care.”
Most of the ladies wore dresses and the men were dressed casually. People came in pairs or as groups. I was the only one alone but not for long because Max invited me to join his group of friends. Max told me that this ball was special because of the invited guests. Usually it is just the singers from the band and the musicians who perform.
As the evening progressed, I enjoyed the rock music and international hits like Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes.” She sang this song and then said ” J’aime Paris” which means I love Paris. There was plenty of room on the dance floor and the drinks of beer, soft drinks and champagne were reasonably priced.
Le Grand Orchestre de L’Elysée Montmartre, G.O. L.E. M., is composed of three male singers, four female singers, one bass player, one guitarist, one drummer , one keyboard player and three brass instrument players. They play music from the 50s to music of today. Their original style includes outrageous costumes, hair styles and unique choreography.
The DJ Peter Pan who often is the DJ for Le Bal de l’Elysée Montmartre has performed in London, Cannes and in Miami. He knows how to please the crowds. All the perfomers came except for Jimmy Somerville who had a health problem with his throat and who wrote a letter in English which they projected on a large screen. A man intepreted the letter into French. I came to take a look and enjoyed the Bal so much that I stayed until 6 A.M. Le Bal de Montmartre is like a villlage party Parisian style. Gérard Michel, the founder, wanted to create a dance evening with live music. He wanted a change from the typical Parisian clubbing scene.
Le Bal de Montmartre is very interesting for the Parisians because they enjoy a great evening of dancing to live music with a live orchestra and singers . Garance, the producer has been having these monthly balls since 1995.
Foreigners visiting Paris would have a great experience meeting locals and dancing the night away at these balls. Information can be found in local advertising online or by going to the website of Garance Productions. Information about the monthly balls can be found at www.elyseemontmartre.com. The website for Garance is www.garanceproductions.com.