vendredi, mars 30, 2007

Mark descends on Paris, and Open House @ L'Elysée Montmartre

After getting home and crashing Thursday night/Friday morning, I slept in until I got a call from my friend Mark, who was arriving in Paris that day. I gave him directions to my place and started cleaning up my apartment; a short while later, the poor, tired boy appeared and I brought him up to my place. After a quick (but delicious) lunch at a bistro near my place (Le Clairon), I left Mark to take a nap while I washed a load of towels downstairs and worked on some blogging.

Once Mark had finished taking a disco nap (and my towels were dry), we started getting ready to go out. Mark was heading off to Lyon the next day, so the plan was to do a bit of clubbing tonight while he was still in Paris. We first headed out for dinner to a Moroccan restaurant called Au Petit Cahoua. It is a favourite of mine for tagine and couscous, and this time didn't disappoint. I was a bit annoyed that we ordered a vegetarian couscous for Mark and they brought out chicken, but at least they corrected the situation quickly.

After dinner, Mark had expressed a desire to do "something gay," so off we went to the Marais. We wandered along rue Ste.-Croix de la Bretonnerie, the main drag of the gay neighborhood, and eventually wandered into a bar called Cocks (I swear I'm not making this up). The place was nowhere near as racy as the name implied; it was your standard "grab a beer and pose" bar, with innocuous house in the background and reasonably cute bartenders. After a few minutes of wandering around, clutching our beers, we were approached by a friendly couple who wanted to know if I was Spanish ("guess the ethnicity" seems to be a popular game for breaking the ice). They were both very excited to hear that Mark and I worked on electronic music, and we spent a good couple of hours chatting. The only thing that marred the evening was when a certain burly man, who claimed to be a Parisian cop, got rather fresh with Mark. I realize that the police wield a fair bit of power here, but I'm pretty sure they don't have the right to do that sort of thing with their finger...I'm just sayin'.

Since we didn't have pre-sale tickets, Mark and I left Cocks at around midnight, to head to l'Elysée Montmartre for this evening's festivities.

Open House @ L'Elysée Montmartre: The Hacker, Loco Dice, Ivan Smagghe, and Paco

0h00-1h30: Paco

When we arrived at l'Elysée Montmartre, we had a rather amusing "organization à la française" moment. The doors had a short line trailing to the right, a long line trailing to the left, and a disorganized mass of people waiting right in the middle. I approached the shorter line, and asked someone if they were waiting to enter on the guest list, with presale tickets, or without. The guy said "I hope it's the guestlist!" Hmm. We wandered over to the end of the longer line, presuming that it must be for people without presale tickets. I asked a girl who was in line ahead of me, and she said that she wasn't sure, but she was there with a presale pass. One of her friends went ahead to check and then came back and confirmed to us that we were in the wrong line. So, Mark and I went back to the main door to try to see what we could glean from the signs on the doors. One sign indicated a line for people holding presale tickets from a particular online vendor, another one for "passes" from some local radio station, another for the guest list, and another for some other sort of presale ticket.

So, in sum, there were four signs for four different lines, only two actual lines and a disorganized mass of people, and none of them were for people paying cash. Awesome. Mark and I got into the shorter line and asked the people in line again. Nobody was quite sure what the lineup was for. I asked the bouncer at the head of the line, who I recognized from other events at Le Rex, and he shrugged, saying, "Frankly, I don't know. Just get in line and find out." Thankfully, the line we were in was both short and fast-moving, so we got our answer pretty quickly. A host/portier came out and asked us how many were in our group. I said two, and without pausing to ask us what list we were on, waved us into the building. We paid at the booth near the stairs to the main hall, and then we were in.

Once inside, Mark and I circled the large hall, gave up on coatcheck, and hit the bar for a drink. The drink prices were especially painful (11€ for a mixed drink), so we grabbed the "Happy Hour" special, which was two bottles of this "red" beer stuff for 7€. It was AWFUL. We also ran into Nathan and a friend of his, but they seemed to be "on a mission," so we didn't see them very much that night.

The club itself was architecturally quite lovely. Obviously an erstwhile theatre / ballroom, it was now a large room with a very high ceiling, a balcony at the back, and quite a bit of detailed moulding on the ceiling. Check out the pictures below; the lighting made it really hard to pick up the detail, but I managed to get a bit of it.

Paco's set was fun but a bit generic, mixing somewhat house-y techno with occasional moments of electro. During most of the set I took pictures, most of which didn't turn out very well, but here's a few shots of the stage that I liked.

2h30-3h30: Ivan Smagghe

Ivan Smagghe is very well known in Paris as an electrohouse / electroclash DJ, although he is probably better known outside of Paris as a member of the electro group Blackstrobe. Incidentally, one of the men Mark and I were speaking to at that club in the Marais ("Cocks") had mentioned Ivan Smagghe, complaining that, while he had the potential to be one of the best DJs as far as track selection is concerned, he wasted his talent away through drug use. (Note: This is alleged by a third party, so take it with a grain of salt and in no way should this be construed as an accusation of anything illegal whatsoever). While I will stop short of labelling his selection "the best ever," I can definitely say that it was good. It was very much within the electro vein of things.

While I can't say that a great deal of interesting stuff happened during his set, I did get a bit of video, as well as a few interesting shots of the stage. They had the stage backlit, which made for some really neat but entirely accidental effects.

3h30-4h30: Loco Dice

Loco Dice's set was also pretty electro-house, although there were moments that strayed into minimal house territory (you can see what I mean in the video clips below). Earlier in the evening, I had told Mark about my observations of intimacy and sexualized play among (presumably) straight guys at clubs (previously mentioned here, among other places); during Loco's set, I had the opportunity to point out some of the same behaviour among some of the guys around us. Although nothing that night quite matched what I saw at the Rex 2 weeks before, nonetheless there was a group of guys who were getting rather fresh with each other when they weren't getting fresh with the women around them. Shame I didn't get a picture...

Mark had to catch a train the next day AND he had just arrived from an intercontinental flight that morning, so we threw in the towel around 4h00. We tried catching a taxi, but it was the wrong neighborhood and the wrong time of night to catch a taxi, so we grabbed the night bus as it passed by.