EXCLUSIVE | Paris: Where to Play/Meet Part Four
PRIMARILY MEN -- DANCE CLUBS
Note: Be sure to call ahead or check the websites or calendar listings of clubs before going, since theme nights sometimes change or are preempted by live performances.
The energetic bar-club C.U.D. (12 rue des Haudriettes; +33-1-42-71-56-60) (Classic Up and Down) has a pleasant street-level bar and a basement divided equally into a lounge and dance floor. This hoppin' spot has become one of the most popular undiscovered dance bars in the city. The DJs play excellent to-the-minute dance music, although curiously you can still hear your neighbor talking to you. Definitely worth checking out.
Former fancy and impossible-to-enter nightspot Les Bains Douches (7 rue du Bourg-l'Abb?, 3e; +33-1-48-87-01-80) has become the biggest gay dance party in Paris. Saturdays explode on two levels at Les Bains, where while waiting for space to clear on the dance floor you can get a back massage while drinking your 10 EUR cocktail. Some of the best house and trance DJs in Paris burn up the dance floor, while the upstairs is a classy and kickin' lounge full of young hotties. Check the website's agenda as every week brings a new night of organized mayhem (such as the popular gay RnB party Brooklyn Session.
Folies Pigalle (11, place Pigalle, 9e; +33-1-48-78-25-56) is without a doubt the most eclectic nightclub in Paris. Smaller than it looks on the outside, it is located in the famously seedy neighborhood that inspired its name and the raunchy themes that play out certain nights. It is a famous after-hours venue, but it also hosts a variety of music and theme nights, from Afro-Latin House to Electro rock (both nights boasting topless go-go girls) to one of the two tranny nights available in the city (see La Loco below for the other). The crowd is always genial mix of gays, straights, and transsexuals (mostly MTF). You can expect, at almost any hour, dancing and drinking in this former cabaret-theater.
A five-minute walk from Folies Pigalle, next to the Moulin Rouge, is La Loco (90, blvd de Clichy, 18e; +33-1-53-41-88-89). An enormous three-floor venue (over 24,000 square feet) La Loco was never a gay destination until two of the most popular Sunday night parties at Folies Pigalle moved over here. Blanc Black Beur (also known as BBB, meaning white, black, and of Arab descent and generally referring to a soir?e aimed at people of color) is a popular tea dance. The other night is Escualita, the original transsexual club night in the city, also run by a local association. Another massive venue with a tea dance is Le Mix (24 rue de l'Ariv?e, 15e; +33-1-56-80-37-37), which is located under the Tour Montparnasse.
Le Queen (102, avenue des Champs Elys?es, 8e; +33-1-53-89-08-90) is no longer the Mecca of gay clubs we once knew, where fierce drag queens guarded the door with their lives (and their looks). It nearly closed two years ago but since winning the fight to keep its lease, it has become increasingly an electro-house venue with nights that can be fun, and sometimes mixed, but in the end overwhelmingly straight. Sunday is the only night with a long-running gay party ("Overkitsch"). Still thought to be a gay club by most of straight Paris, it gets crowded by midnight, which by Parisian standards is early.
La Sc?ne Bastille (2 bis, rue des Taillandiers, 11e) is a well known music venue and club in the Bastille neighborhood. Check the website to see which nights are gay or gay-friendly (usually Saturdays or Sundays). Expect great clothes and great drag queens. The quieter L'Insolite (33, rue des Petits Champs, 1e; +33-1-40-20-98-59) is a small, crowded, and friendly venue. The crowd there is over 30.
Formerly le London, The Eagle (33 bis rue des Lombards, 1e) reopened totally renovated in Les Halles. It is now streamlined with a beautiful bar area at the door and the basement dance floor has a light-up wall. They have also reopened their Monday nights as one of the few Asian male nights consistently advertised in Paris. The place tends to get very sexy, as there are two backrooms with video screens, a maze, and even a smoking room for people not adequately dressed to rush upstairs for their cigarettes.
The music venue Le Bataclan (50 Boulevard Voltaire, 11e; +33-1-43-14-00-30) hosts the very popular bimonthly dance party Follivores, organized by the gay nightife group of the same name. The party is normally a m?lange of French dance and popular music; their night featuring music in English is called Crazyvores and they also do a myriad of events across the city. But the Bataclan itself, which is near Oberkampf, is shaped like a theater, which is what it was when it was built over 100 years ago. Originally decorated with flame-breathing Chinese dragons and other Sinophilic touches, it has been reduced to a large open space for dancing and tables around the floor like a ring. Not cheap, but Follivores is great party for men and women.
Another concert venue-cum-club, is L'Elys?e Montmartre (72, blvd de Rochechouart, 18e; +33-1-44-92-45-36). More popular with the fashion and art crowd (straight and gay), L'Elys?e Montmartre often brings in big live acts; check their calendar.
The Rex Club (5 bld Poissonniere, 2e; +33-1-42-36-10-96) has been around for 20 years and is celebrating it with bang after bang. Their parties can be great, but make sure to check ahead on the site to see if there is a gay night or not. A little popular place that is always gay is Le Blue Square (8, rue Brantome, 3e +01 40 29 08 89). Charming, very French, full of life, and frequented by hilarious drag queens, it is somewhat of a backroom bar during the day (one that is surprisingly well kept and clean.) and a club at night. They have adorable themes -- disco, karaoke and even "request" nights where you can bring your own CDs (although the last two can be hit or miss).
Le Tango (13, rue de la Maire; +33-1-42-72-17-78) has mixed lesbian and gay parties Friday through Sunday. Truly a convivial place that doesn't play house or hard techno; you can talk over the din easily. A nonthreatening place that is still much fun for people who love to dance. Sunday tea dance (also a singles night!) is usually accompanied by a drag show.
There are numerous one-night parties hosted by various clubs. A good way of finding out about the latest is by picking up literature at any of the bars, bookstores, or boutiques in Le Marais.