Has Paris Really Stopped Burning?

Berlin might be Europe’s party mecca but Paris is definitely catching up. Read on for our view on Paris’s new nightlife.

Before I left Paris for Berlin two years ago, the situation was pretty simple: nightlife in Paris had been hitting a dead end while Berlin’s scene was flourishing.

In 2009 already, a petition condemning the fact that Paris’ nightlife was slowly and silently dying gathered more than 12,000 signatures. Since then, the city’s hotspots have moved outwards, with clubs opening and illegal parties happening right on the outskirts of the French capital. This allowed club kids to party on and enjoy a bite of Berlin thanks to events such as Weather Festival, which regularly book Berghain’s resident DJs and allow party enthusiasts to stay up all night as well as all morning.

There’s a new generation of French kids fed up with the wannabe-Berlin thing

However, as Teki Latex rightly stated in his latest interview for Red Bull Studios, “there’s a new generation of French kids fed up with the wannabe-Berlin thing, who are more cosmopolitan, more internet-savvy and who come from a more multi-cultural background, and who are less straight/white!” And today, it seems like Paris is on its way to be home to its own clubbing scene—one that isn’t defined by standards invented on the other side of the Rhine or even across the Atlantic.

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Dancing Shoes @ Le 9B (Photos Danilo Sierra)

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Dancing Shoes @ Le 9B (Photos Danilo Sierra)

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Dancing Shoes @ Le 9B (Photos Danilo Sierra)

Thanks to the efforts of organisations such as Red Bull Studios, Boiler Room and Overdrive Infinity, events such as the Jeudi Minuit club nights at Belleville club La Java, and online radios such as Rinse France and Hotel Radio Paris, a new, exciting Parisian scene has emerged over the past few years. Move over Berlin, Paris now has its own identity—one that is shaped by its diversity, its youth and, for better or worse, by its own constraints.

Paris club kids don’t need to wait until the wee hours to start shaking

I was invited to play a new club night called Dancing Shoes at Le 9B, a bar-cum-club located in the Belleville area. There, a pint of beer costs 3.50€ until 9pm, the owners allow their customers to hang out outside until late and the well soundproofed basement is the perfect setting for a short yet sweaty night of dancing. Sure, the venue has to close at 2, but from what I could witness Paris club kids don’t need to wait until the wee hours to start shaking.

That night only, aside from the party I was playing, another night was happening at La Java, celebrating the darker, more experimental sounds of the current club scene. Bye Bye Ocean has been happening for over two years and has already booked many exciting acts such as False Witness or Angel-Ho as well as local heroes Détente and DJ Ouai.

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Dancing Shoes @ Le 9B (Photos Danilo Sierra)

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Dancing Shoes @ Le 9B (Photos Danilo Sierra)

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Dancing Shoes @ Le 9B (Photos Danilo Sierra)

Simultaneously, and over the course of two full days, the collectives and individuals behind LUVGANG, Hotel Radio Paris and Meteotranse were taking over Le Batofar, a nightclub, concert venue and restaurant located on a boat. The programme included DJ sets and lives by dozens of Paris’ hottest underground acts. Entrance was free and the event also included a tattoo market down in the hold of the boat—what’s not to love?

This new scene is more agile and mostly focuses on getting their music heard

If anything, the current rebirth of underground nightlife in Paris is also a sign of more connectedness, on a global level, between artists, promoters and collectives. The Internet allowed for the emergence of a worldwide scene tied together by online radios as well as various underground networks mostly existing through SoundCloud accounts and secret Facebook groups. This new scene is more agile and mostly focuses on getting their music heard, with little regard for all the implicit rules and standards that are ubiquitous in many other musical universes.

Berlin has also been developing its own non-techno scene thanks to collectives such as Creamcake or Trade, and many international acts get to play in both Paris and Berlin while going on tour, which shows an undeniable connexion between these two major European cities. In Berlin, they might get to play a more renowned institution such as Berghain thanks to the Polymorphism or JANUS nights, but is a sweaty Parisian basement really not as fun?

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Dancing Shoes @ Le 9B (Photos Danilo Sierra)

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Dancing Shoes @ Le 9B (Photos Danilo Sierra)

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Dancing Shoes @ Le 9B (Photos Danilo Sierra)

The way I see it, the Parisian scene seems to be doing a great job considering the regulatory constraints it has to deal with. There, too, clubs and music venues are forced to shut down. Bars close at 2am, most clubs have to kick everyone out at 6am and after-parties can be hard to find. But that doesn’t mean that the city is boring—it’s actually quite the opposite.

Check out the the places listed in this article on the map below and our guide to find out the best places to go out in Paris.

Concrete

Port de la Rapée, 75012 Paris

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La Java

La Java, Rue du Faubourg du Temple, Paris, France

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Batofar

Batofar, Quai François Mauriac, Paris, France

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Le 9B

Le 9b, Boulevard de la Villette, Paris, France

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Photos Danilo Sierra

Camille Darroux is a Paris-born, Berlin-based digital consultant, writer, and DJ. You're most likely to find her having pizza & wine or at the club.
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