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Paris Nightlife

Paris Nightlife and Rubber Balls Don’t Mix (Illustrated Version Part II)

The outdoor "bar" at La Miroiterie

On Saturday I go back out into the now cold, wet, and windy Parisian night with my friend Laura to check out a punk concert at La Miroiterie (88 rue de Ménilmontant, 20th). This is an artist’s squat up in the Belleville district, predictably covered in graffiti and concert flyers. They started doing rock/punk concerts about a year ago, but I hadn’t made it to any until tonight. It’s supposed to start at 5pm (I was hoping to get home early), but we get there at 7pm and it still hasn’t started. Of course. So we pay our €5 and get an "X" on our hand. I almost expected a plastic cup for the keg, considering the average age group there. Concerts are held in a big cardboard (okay, maybe wood) box that’s soundproofed to keep the neighbors happy. Outside is a guy selling vintage records on a folding table, and a bar that we’d hang out at if it weren’t outside in the freezing, wet, windy night. So we wait inside the box. The smokey box. Teenagers and young 20-somethings (some were probably older, but it was hard to tell) in black grungy clothes have nothing to do while waiting but smoke. The band finally comes on and spends a bit of time setting up. "Sorry, we had to go to Montreuil for a battery" says the singer. They look about 18. I can’t recall the name or why I even wrote the date on my calendar (it has been there a long time), but they actually turned out to be quite good. Well, I liked the music. The singing was of the screaming metal genre that I find hard to get into. But we admire their energy.
Band playing in the "box" at La Miroiterie January 19.

Soon after we get the munchies, so we head off in search of something edible along the street of kebab, coucous and panini shops. We pass Manhattan Pizza and it smells so good we go in. They don’t take credit cards. We continue and find California Pizza further down the street. They don’t take cards either, so we end up going all the way down to the bottom of the hill to get cash, then try to find a different pizza place (we REALLY wanted pizza at that point) without going back up the hill. We go as far as Père Lachaise cemetery, and only find Pizza Hut (take-away only). I’m frozen all of the way through and so delirious with hunger that I don’t care where or what I eat at this point, but poor Laura — who you recall I’ve drug all over town at this point — seems to have her heart set on California Pizza (she’s from the Bay Area, of course). So we go all the way back to Ménilmontant and up the hill, get two small pizzas and Cokes (so much for the healthy food diet) and go eat them in the metro station because it’s the only warm, dry spot to eat. I feel a billion times better afterwards, and life is good. We take the metro home and my dogs finally get their dinner and walkies at 10pm.

Sunday I do penance for my sins with a trip to the organic produce stand at my local market. I make some veggie juice back home and then head to the gym for something called Swiss Ball class. It’s basically like Pilates (ie ab torture) but on top of giant rubber balls. I want to bounce around on it but there’s no handle. Those of you who grew up in the late 70s know what I’m talking about. My muscles are still stiff from Thursday, and you need those muscles to be able to stay "balanced" on the ball while doing crunches, push ups, obliques, and levitating somersaults. I’m very pleased to see that I’m not the only one who keeps sliding off my ball. I think goals are good when you go to the gym. My new goal is to be able to just stay *on* the ball for one entire class. Whether I can stay on *and* do crunches at the same time while flexing my abs and breathing properly…well, there’s always 2008.

baron1.jpgThat night I drag my friends Jeff and Gentry to Le Baron (6 ave Marceau, 8th) for karaoke night. Both of them are transplanted Americans who have been in Paris several years, but they’ve never been before. Only I know how much super duper fun we’re going to have. We arrive just as it opens at 11pm (essential if you want a decent seat near the "stage") and chat with the organizer Nicolas Ullmann (that’s me and Nicolas on the left) while waiting for the band to set up. Entry is free to Karaoke night, and drinks are about €7-€12. Coat check is surly, but highly recommended because the tiny club fills up quickly with people and — can you guess at this point? — smoke.

Nicolas on back up vocals, Daniel on guitar.

Karaoke with a live band is a completely different experience than with pre-recorded music. If you suck, the band will play a bit louder. If you need a shot of whiskey mid-song, you can signal a drum or guitar solo. And of course, it’s nice not to be up there all alone! The band at Le Baron is excellent. And, even to my surprise, so are most of the singers. We heard Prince’s "Kiss" and James Brown’s "Sex Machine" (followed by a moment of silence) amazingly done in the correct octaves. A preppy guy sang an excellent rendition of Led Zeppelin’s "Whole Lotta Love"   — and I’m very demanding when it comes to my favorite band! — and another did Rage Against the Machine’s "Killing in the Name". Awesome!  But of course the Best Performance Award goes to Gentry, who sang "These Boots Were Made for Walking" along with all of the appropriate dance moves. As most people know, in karaoke it’s the "show" that’s important, not the voice (most of us were singing along to loudly to hear the lyrics anyway). Go Gentry! (see her sing and dance here).

Star of the evening, Mademoiselle Gentry Lane (and her boots).


Since the three of us work for ourselves, we had planned on just staying an hour or so and getting to bed early. I had an appointment with my accountant at 10am to prepare for. But it was so much fun that by the time we left if was almost 4am. I would have stayed longer, but my contact lenses had fused onto my eyeballs and I had to extract Gentry from her new adoring public before they ripped her clothes off (she’s still mad at me for that, but hey, what are friends for?!)

So I didn’t get to the gym on Monday for obvious reasons…although I did remember to ask the accountant if hangover massages could be deducted as professional research expenses. Or maybe by the end of winter I’ll have finally found the perfect balance between smokey, late nights on the town and self-inflicited torture sessions at my heavenly-scented gym. Is is possible to have both ki
ller abs AND under-eye circles? I’ll keep y’all posted.


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