Monday, 24 January 2011

A lesson in logic:
our guests are cool, ergo we are cool.

Let's face the facts: I have never been cool.

Short-sighted at 16, a regular at computer club, home-knitted sweaters, didn't smoke. Just not cool.

So it's with a certain pleasure that I greet the cool, creative types that sometimes come and stay with us at the Great Apartment and Canal Apartment. Not that other guests are less cool, in fact the vast majority of guests and just ridiculously lovely, but sometimes you get a whiff of a designer brand name in conversation or from an e-mail address, and that makes us feel all fuzzy inside.

For instance, we once had one of the co-founders of Eley Kishimoto to stay. At the time, I hadn't heard of the brand, but since then I've seen it around a lot, namely through collaborations with Eastpak, Bearbrick and delish Belgian beer Duvel. You might recognise their iconic flash design.

They also do a range of lovely-looking wallpaper that I'm keeping in mind, and if you wear the beach shorts they designed for Orlebar Brown, you will be instantly gorgeous. And £150 lighter. True!

Then there were the seamstresses for very very cool brand Acne Studio that came for fashion week. After sewing madly for 25 hours non-stop to make the new collection look good on their weedy male models, they went out partying all night and got to bed at 6am! Before checking out at 7am! Oh to be young again... Perhaps if I were, their clothes would like good on me too.

We have also been hosts to James Benjamin Franklin, a painter from the New York area who really has an original style of milky-looking paintings depicting slightly surreal or unnerving scenes. Some people might find them creepy, but we thought they were ace! He turned out to be extremely personable, and when we were invited to his exhibition opening in Paris, we were delighted to hear that he'd sold a painting straight away. Excellent!

And let's not forget the impeccably-executed, retro-style simplicity of Miller + Goodman's amazing wooden blocks. They came to stay with us for a trade fair, and we were proud to have them; their stuff is great for inspiring kids' creativity, and beautiful to look at to boot. They deservedly won a Parents' Choice Gold Award in 2010 for their Playshapes.

As well as an exclusive collection for the Tate Gallery in London, they have a giant block puzzle for all nostalgic adults to proudly display at home, are rather proficient in animation, and also possess a slightly mysterious website, deliciously called Oh, and they were super nice too.

So as the years roll on, the more people we'll meet and the more cool-by-osmosis we'll become. Finally. Can't wait!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Les Bains Douches - the sad and faintly ridiculous story of our local nightclub

Ah, the night is a fickle mistress. Whereas once the aura of Paris made it a centre of nightclubbing as hot as New York, those days are long gone. The heyday was probably during the 1980s, first with Le Palace, the Studio 54 of Paris with stars lining up to get in (Andy Warhol, Grace Jones), and a notoriously nasty door policy that involved humiliation and sometimes even begging. When that closed in 1982, the second temple of clubbing - Les Bain Douches, just 30 seconds from the Great Apartment - stepped in. With an upstairs restaurant and a downstairs dancefloor, the club soon became the place to be, and a stylish semi-private concert space for people like Prince, and Joy Division.

Believe it or not, I even mixed there a couple of times, in the restaurant! At the time it was run by Claude Challe, who went on to build a reputation at the Buddha Bar. "Take them on a journey," he would tell me, as everyone around me just ate and talked, far more interested in themselves than the music. I had to beg for a drink during my five-hour mix, and they paid really badly.

After the hedonistic 80s, the Bains Douches came back into fashion during the nineties when David Guetta and his wife Cathy took over. I (vaguely) remember a number of great nights out there, and some extremely decadent after parties. When the Guettas moved on in 2003, it was the beginning of the end. Worst of all, the owner of the place had a falling out with the management company, and a tug of war began with one not paying the rent, the other starting legal proceedings to get them off the premises... the club regularly opened and closed for months at a time, Tuesdays became student night (no more supermodels and Hollywood stars), the rest of the week was almost exclusively gay... no-one really knew what the club was like any more. And people stopped coming.

Then in June 2010, things came to a head, disastrously. The management company decided to do some demolition/renovation/soundproofing work (depending on which story you believe) inside the basement club. Unfortunately (or stupidly), they didn't check with the owner, and they didn't worry about removing some load-bearing walls. Cracks started appearing on the building, and the club was immediately closed by the police for "grave and imminent danger". Idiots!

Interviewed at the time, the manager said that they would reopen no later than September after doing the required structural work. It's now January 2011 and they are still closed. A poster on the door says "Club night cancelled," and there's no news on when they'll be back.

In the meantime, the clubbers amongst you can 'dance to the beat' just a short walk from the Great Apartment; the Social Club (here) has a great line-up (at time of writing, they're expecting Fatboy Slim, Andy Weatherall, Trevor Jackson, Kenny Dope, The Glimmers...) and the Rex Club and its amazing sound system (probably the best in Paris) is not much further (here).  More techno-based, their line-up in the next couple of months includes Kenny Larkin, DJ Deep, Caribou, Radio Slave, Jeff Mills and Grandmaster Flash! And it's much more fun going out when you know that home is just a few minutes away on foot.

(And if all those names mean nothing to you, don't worry: there's more to life than clubbing)