Taki Taki

The glory of Paris has long past



A reader’s inquiry as to why I think Paris belongs to yesterday (12 August) has me remembering times past. When did the party end? According to many night owls it was when the ‘Queen of the Night’, Regine, shut down her club New Jimmy’z and moved to London in the 1970s, where she flopped. Others believe it was ‘les événements de soixante-huit’, the student-worker revolt against De Gaulle that did Paris in. Certainly, any way one looks at it, the events of 1968 did signal that the party was over; and it has stayed over ever since.

Mind you, the high jinks had been waning for some time. I first arrived in Paris as a tennis player in 1957, but moved permanently to the City of Light on November 11 1958, Poppy Day. The place was jumping. It was rich and brightly lit, and the people were prosperous.

Sure, the Frogs were Frogs: xenophobic, ungenerous, suspicious and intellectually superior. But the city was also full of foreigners, rich foreigners out to enjoy themselves. Everyone gravitated to Montparnasse where Le Dôme, La Rotonde and Le Sélect were open all night, their ceiling-to-floor mirrors and bordello red interiors a welcome sight after boozing all night at very dark New Jimmy’z a block down the street.

The unreliability of memory screens out the boring and pedestrian, and only the jolly and delightful remain. But Paris back then really suited; its sensual atmosphere was perfection, the Parisian women’s sexuality even more so. And there’s another thing: when one is young, the ordinariness of people one encounters does not register as it does later on. What youth rates as exceptional, maturity denigrates to mediocre.

Everyone knew each other and anyone with good manners and
better looks was welcome

Back then, the rowdy orgy of late capitalism didn’t exist.

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