The show of the famous cabaret at the Lido de Paris is over

France Cabaret

Dancers Alicia, left, and Charlenne at the Lido cabaret on the Champs-Elysées in Paris in 2016. Francois Mori/Associated Press, File

PARIS — It’s the end of an era for the famed Lido cabaret on the Champs-Elysées in Paris.

Amid financial troubles and changing times, the venue’s new corporate owner is ditching most of the Lido’s staff and its high-glamour, kick-ass dance shows, which date back decades and inspired imitators from Las Vegas to Beirut, in favor of more modest musicals. journals

Dancers, other employees and union activists rallied 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. The artists plan a performance to pay tribute to the place.

“I feel sad. It sounds like the death of cabaret as a place and genre in Paris. The style of cabaret made Paris what it is,” Jeremy Bauchet, assistant ballet master at the club, told The Associated Press.

“The Lido is the temple of the Parisian cabaret revue at its most elegant, prestigious and fun. An enchanting interlude in a magical world unique in French shows.”

With on-stage waterfalls, an ice rink and a swimming pool, the Lido began to captivate audiences before World War II and became a Parisian nightlife institution. It attracted performers, from Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich and Elton John to Laurel and Hardy, as well as celebrity moviegoers.

French hotel giant Accor recently bought the club and says it plans to lay off 157 of the 184 permanent staff. Artists and technicians will be the most affected. Accor said in a statement that it wants to get rid of expensive dinner shows and magazines because “they no longer attract the public.” The group aims to “redesign” the shows and plans restoration work on the building.

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“The Lido will keep its name, but the cabaret will lose its soul. Due to the end of the magazine and the dismissal of 85% of the staff, the Lido will become a basic place that people rent”, said Franck Lafitte, of the National Union of Artistic Activities.

The Lido, along with the Moulin Rouge, the Crazy Horse and the Paradis Latin, is one of the last Parisian cabarets. So far it has put on two shows a night, seven days a week, including performances by dancers, singers and the Bluebell Girls, a troupe founded by Irish dancer Margaret Kelly in 1932. Kelly, known as Miss Bluebell, toured with his company around the world and helped inspire a Las Vegas Lido franchise.

An online petition to save Bluebell Girls magazine has been signed by more than 50,000 people.

“When the Lido reopened after World War II, people wanted to party. The Clerico brothers who bought the place wanted to make it a high-end place. They invented the dinner show concept, which inspired other venues,” said Sonia Rachline, author of a book about the Lido.

“The shows are very French and Parisian, thanks to the sophistication of the costumes and the precision of the dance moves, but it also has that American musical-inspired craziness,” added Rachline.

But while the Moulin Rouge benefited from a resurgence of interest after Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film, the Lido has struggled with falling attendance and financial problems compounded by the COVID-19 crisis. To some, the programs seem increasingly outdated. In 2015, the Lido tried to reinvent itself with a new revue from a Cirque du Soleil director who sought to empower dancers and show that “women are not objects,” but it was not as successful as expected.

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Accor said the cabaret has lost $85.6 million in the past decade. Lido employees expect to lose their jobs this summer.

People who have worked at the Lido, from dancers to dressmakers, wardrobe staff and backstage technicians, described the club with an unusual personal bond.

“No other place had waterfalls, an ice rink and a swimming pool,” retired Lido set designer Yves Valente told the AP. “The Lido has exceptionally fast machinery and special effects.”

Many current employees are afraid to speak publicly about management’s decision for fear it will jeopardize their attempts to save their jobs. One dancer pleaded, “The Lido cannot disappear,” and repeated the club’s motto: “The Lido is Paris.”

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