12 Aug 2016

The Lido Paris, 1930.

The Lido began by providing entertainment and swimming facilities for the disadvantaged of Paris and went on to become one of the city's most glamorous venues. Today the Lido is  celebrated as one of the most prominent cabaret venues in "the City of Light". With a perfect location on the Champs-Elysées the Lido shot to fame not least because of its lavish interior decor, inspired by the glories of Venice, and in particular the celebrated Venetian beach from which the cabaret takes its name.

From popular swimming pool to a venue for elite elegance

It was in 1933 that the Lido - then known as "the beach of Paris" - was forced to end its first life, as a leisure centre for the masses, because of financial problems. Three years later the era of the new Lido began, when Léon Volterra, renowned in France as a showman and a producer, took over its management. His vision was ambitious: to replace the underground pool with a large cabaret room where the crème de la crème of Paris society would come to be entertained by dinner and a show.
The Lido was an immediate success. Both French and international celebrities packed in to see what this new, glamorous venue had to offer. Together with the Moulin Rouge, the Lido became one of the symbols of indulgent 1930s Parisian nightlife. On June 7, 1941, Paris was occupied by the Nazis, and on that dark night the Spanish ambassador José Félix de Lequerica invited the French writer Paul Morand and the actresses Arletty and Josée Laval to the Lido. Their visit attracted many column inches of newspaper coverage, and gave the Lido a prominence that no advertising could buy. Five years on, after the war ended, Italian brothers Joseph and Louis Clerico bought the Lido and began a huge project totally to redevelop the room for a new era. The first show may have had a curious title - it was called "Without Rhyme or Reason" - but it was an immediate success. Building on this, the brothers came up with the idea of the "dinner show" which would subsequently spread to cabaret venues around the world.
Over the years, the Lido went from strength to strength and in 1977 a new director, Jean-Robert Boudre, decided it was time for big changes. He added some 6,000 square metres of space to the Lido, including a panoramic room, on two levels, which could accommodate 1150 people. A novel new elevator system allowed 300 guests seated at floor level to take full advantage of a better view of the Lido cabaret show. Star after star has appeared on the Lido stage in the years since the Second World War. Laurel and Hardy performed there, as did the Kessler Twins - and in later years, Shirley MacLaine and even Elton John have taken to the famous stage.  [source http://www.lido.fr/]

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