Last ooh la la as cabarets lose sparkle



Stuff NZ Newspapers


The Bluebell Girls, the high-kicking troupe of the Lido de Paris, are being laid off and the glitzy revue is closing, in a sign of hard times for traditional Paris cabarets, with their dancers in feathers, headdresses and little else. Hotel chain Accor has announced that it is laying off 157 of the 184 staff at the famous Champs-Elysees nightspot, just five months after acquiring the business, which was founded in 1946 and became one of Paris’s nightlife landmarks. Catering group Sodexo, which owned the Lido until last December, had failed to breathe new life into the dinner revue formula, which depends on topless dancers. Famous names who performed at the Lido include Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, Marlene Dietrich, Eartha Kitt, Josephine Baker, Elton John, Laurel & Hardy, Shirley MacLaine and Noel Coward. The Paris dinner show sector, which relies on tourists for more than half its income, has been hit hard by the Covid19 pandemic, losing 80 per cent of its earnings in 2020. The Lido had lost €80 million over the past decade, its former owner said. Jean-Jacques Clerico, director of the Moulin Rouge and grandson of the Lido’s founder, said: ‘‘A jewel of Parisian nightlife is disappearing.’’ However, Dominique de Roo, head of a family firm that supplied the dancers’ outfits for two generations, said the cabarets had been skimping on the exotic costumes: ‘‘The magic was already lost.’’ Accor has said the site will be used as a different type of music venue.