This Monday saw the launch of a new event, Les Lundis de Lutece, at the Baron Samedi bar. Run by DJ and amateur historian Sylvanie de Lutèce, the happening features a themed presentation on the history of Paris followed by a funky DJ set!
The event sounded like a fantastic idea, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. Who goes out on a damp Monday evening in February? Pulling up my collars I wandered down to the Baron Samedi, one of the friendliest and most interesting bars in Paris, and was surprised to find the place packed, with around 50 people occupying all available spaces.
Everyone’s eyes were on Sylvanie de Lutèce, dressed for the occasion in the Titi Parisien style of flat cap, striped top and red neckerchief. Hunched around wooden boards of dried meats and cheeses, and with beer or wine in hand, the audience was nevertheless as quiet as a library as our host got the conference underway.
‘Gangsters de Paris’ was the evening’s theme, a look back at some famous affairs from the beginning of the 20th century. The venue was well chosen as it is situated close to the home of the first topic discussed, the infamous ‘Apache’ gangs who stalked Belleville at the turning of the new century. Sylvanie de Lutèce was able to point out local landmarks that featured in her story, and kept the audience gripped with tales of sharp-dressed hoodlums and ‘marmites’, the girlfriends of the gang members who often gave as good as they got.
The second subject was the Bande à Bonnot, a Belle Epoque anarchist group who were the first ever to use an automobile to escape from the scene of a crime. With the help of mug shots of the gang members and short film sequences on her laptop, Sylvanie de Lutèce rattled off the tale until the final, inevitable, sticky end of the gang.
Despite being propped up against a wall for an hour and a half I didn’t see the time pass. This was not a studious and dry lecture to a group of yawning undergraduates, but rather the sharing of a passion. Questions were encouraged and good-humoured remarks were regularly fired in by the audience. Sylvanie de Lutèce was a bundle of energy and enthusiasm, with an impressive and well-researched knowledge of the evening’s subject.
I’ve already booked a front row slot for the next conference!
Les Lundis de Lutece will take place on the last Monday of each month at the Baron Samedi bar, 12 Rue des Goncourt (75011) at 8pm. Future themes include La Commune, Les Femmes Révolutionnaires and La Mondaine. For more information, see http://www.myspace.com/histoiredeparis.