Thursday
June
21st
2007
1:11 am

Evening at the Cabaret

The other evening, I went to Le Lapin Agile, "Paris’s oldest bar-cabaret and a Montmartre landmark".

The story behind the name: In 1875 the painter-caricaturist André Gill painted a sign of a rabbit jumping out of a saucepan: "Le Lapin à Gill" changed quite naturally into Lapin Agile (the nimble rabbit).

The doors open at about 9:15 PM, and most of those there at that hour were tourists: a few little groups of students, a Japanese couple and another small group of Japanese tourists, and me. There were also a two or three French couples. A group of Japanese businessmen showed up a little later, and after about 10, French couples started trickling in.

The show itself is very simple: shortly after we were seated, a man came in and started playing the piano. About 15 minutes later, a few people came in, sat down at a table in the middle of the room, and just started singing. These then were the performers. It all looked and sounded very unstructured: they took turns with their solos and encouraging the group singalongs. The Japanese businessmen in particular took some good natured ribbing about their reluctance to join in the group singing. "How hard is it to sing ‘la la lala la’"? got them singing, too. While some of the French refrains were a little too complicated for me (or the other tourists) to pick up on, the French guests sang along happily, and several of the songs had refrains no more complicated than the afore-mentioned "la la lala la" or "oui, oui, oui; non, non, non." When the pianist took his breaks, someone else would take out a guitar or an accordion.

They don’t try to serve food, and while a drink is included in the cover charge, they make no subsequent effort to push further drinks. It made for a very pleasant and relaxed evening.

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