PARIS – It’s the end of an era for the famous cabaret Lido on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.
Amid financial troubles and changing times, the venue’s new corporate owner is laying off most of the staff at the Lido and its high-flying, glamorous dance shows — which date back decades and inspired imitators from Las Vegas to Beirut — in favor of a more humble musical revue.
Dancers, other employees and union activists gather outside the Lido on Saturday to try to save their jobs and the history of the cabaret, known for its dinner theater and ‘Bluebell Girls’ revue. Artists plan a performance in homage to the venue.
“I’m sad. It sounds like the death of cabaret as a place and genre in Paris. The cabaret style made Paris what it is,” Jeremy Bauchet, the club’s assistant ballet master, told The Associated Press.
“The Lido is the temple of Parisian cabaret revue in its most elegant, prestigious and entertaining aspects. A magical interlude in a magical world unique in French glasses.”
With waterfalls on the stage, an ice rink and a pool, the Lido was already captivating audiences before the Second World War and becoming a Parisian nightlife institution. It drew performers from Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich and Elton John to Laurel and Hardy, as well as famous viewers.
French hotel giant Accor recently bought the club and plans to lay off 157 of the 184 permanent staff. Artists and technicians will be hit the hardest. Accor said in a statement it wants to get rid of the costly dinner shows and revues because they “no longer attract audiences”. The group wants to “remake” the shows and are planning restoration work on the building.
“The Lido will keep its name, but the cabaret will lose its soul. Due to the end of the revue and the layoff of 85% of the staff, The Lido becomes an easy venue for people to hire,” said Franck Lafitte of the National Union of Artistic Activities.
The Lido is one of the last cabarets in Paris, along with the Moulin Rouge, the Crazy Horse and the Paradis Latin. Until now it has offered two shows a night, seven days a week, including performances by dancers, singers and the Bluebell Girls, a troupe founded in 1932 by Irish dancer Margaret Kelly. Known as Miss Bluebell, Kelly toured the city of the world with her troupe and helped inspire a Las Vegas Lido franchise.
An online petition to save Bluebell Girls Revue has been signed by over 50,000 people.
“When the Lido reopened after World War II, people wanted to have fun. The Clerico brothers who bought the place wanted to turn it into a high-end venue. They invented the concept of dinner shows that inspired other venues,” said Sonia Rachline, author of a book on the Lido.
“The shows are very French and Parisian thanks to the sophistication of the costumes and the precision of the dance moves, but they also have that American madness that’s inspired by musicals,” added Rachline.
But while the Moulin Rouge has benefited from a resurgence in interest following Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film, the Lido has struggled with a drop in attendance and economic woes, exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. For some, the shows seem increasingly outdated. In 2015, the Lido tried to reinvent itself with a new revue from a Cirque du Soleil director who tried to empower the dancers and show that “women are not objects,” but it wasn’t as successful as hoped.
Accor said the cabaret has lost 80 million euros ($85.6 million) over the past decade. Lido employees expect to lose their jobs this summer.
People who have worked at the Lido – from dancers to seamstresses, cloakroom attendants to backstage technicians – describe the club with an unusually personal connection.
“No other venue had waterfalls, an ice rink and a pool,” Yves Valente, a retired set designer, told AP. “The Lido has exceptionally fast machines and special effects.”
Many current employees are reluctant to speak publicly about the management decision for fear it would jeopardize their attempts to save their jobs. A dancer pleaded “The Lido can’t go away” and repeated the club’s motto: “The Lido is Paris”.
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https://www.local10.com/entertainment/2022/05/28/shows-over-for-famed-cabaret-show-at-frances-lido/ The show is over for the famous cabaret show in the French Lido