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“An American in Paris — Making Music, Dance and Proud Gaiety”

One night I turned on TMC (The Movie Channel) to watch for the almost one-hundredth time, “American in Paris,” with Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. Although the film was made in a Hollywood studio 55 years ago, the American in Paris story hasn’t changed. In fact, many of the same scenes seemed to recreate themselves just this very week.

Fête de la Musique Wednesday night, as it seems to happen every year, held up under a cool and rainy June gloom. Aside from the stunning performance by Mayra Andrade from Cap Vert at the Hôtel Sully with soft gold and lavender lighting in harmony with the gentle sunset at about 10 p.m., I was amused by several unusual and amazing performances.

One was from a group of nine-year-olds with acoustic and electric guitars and drums, not playing very well, but acting like cool dudes we are sure will grace the rock stage in about 10 years. Meanwhile, under the vaulted arcade of the Place des Vosges, lyrics handwritten on sheets of paper were being passed around so that hundreds of people crowded together to sing Karaoke style. “New York, New York” was my favorite, especially in that adorable French accent: “Dese leetle town bloos aah melteeng away, I’ll make a braan neyou staht of eet, een ol’ Neyou York…”

At Place Saint Catherine, a large cir
cle of folks all dressed in leopard skin printed clothing were doing a song and dance routine in spoof to the 1959 created French carton, Astérix. They were so in synch I wondered how much they had practiced before their début in the Marais! The scene in the film when Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly) is the pied-piper and dances and sings with the neighborhood kids. That kind of spontaneous street performance we think of only in musicals in film or on stage, but no, there it was on the streets of Paris for real.

Thursday night I was escorted by three handsome men to the Opéra Garnier for the annual black-tie Gala of the ballet La Dame aux Camélias accompanied by cocktails and following dinner. The Opéra Garnier committee honored Madame Jacques Chirac and Madame Georges Pompidou that evening, surrounded by such luminaries as the Baronne Philippine de Rothschild, Comte et Comtesse de Ribes and the Prince et Princesse Pierre d’Arenberg.

There were beautiful women in elegant evening dresses and debonair men dressed impeccably for the black tie affair in the gilded halls of the theater that sits like a wedding cake in the center of the city. I could only fantasize about being one of the many aristocrats on the list of attendees (while sucking down champagne and gobbling delicate canapés) and it reminded me of the scene in American in Paris when broken-hearted Jerry Mulligan retreats to the balcony at the Beaux Arts Ball, overlooking the vast scene of Paris at night.

Saturday was a day I look forward to every year — the annual Gay Pride Parade of about 100 supporting groups that starts at Montparnasse and finishes about six hours later spilling into Place de la Bastille. The merriment and “gaiety” is addictive, as men and women of all ages, sizes,
races and nationalities and of course, and I might add, of all sexes and sexual persuasions, fill the streets of Paris wearing more than you can imagine or less than you can imagine! It’s a celebration of life in all its forms and you can’t help but laugh and be struck with awe from beginning to end.

In 1951 when American in Paris was released, Gay Pride as we know it today didn’t exist. Twenty years later, the Gay Liberation Front organized a march in New York City to celebrate the one year anniversary (June 28, 1969), of a protest against a raid on a gay bar known as the Stonewall Inn. The Stonewall riots are generally considered to be the beginning of the modern gay rights movement, as it was the first time in modern history that a significant body of LGBT people resisted arrest. On the same weekend gay activist groups on the West Coast of the U.S. held a march in Los Angeles and in San Francisco…the events that led to our own Paris parade.

Paris was the perfect backdrop for this week-long revelry and celebration, as it was the perfect subject of Jerry Mulligan’s canvasses. Oh, to be an American (or any other persuasion) in Paris.

A la prochaine…

 

 

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
Email [email protected]

P.S. We’re setting our sights on San Diego, California in September for the next Living and Investing in France Conference, September 16 and 17! There is nothing else you can do in less time and as inexpensively to learn the important facts you need to know to get you on the right road and in the right direction for a successful investment and life in France! Stay tuned for more information in upcoming Parler Paris issues or email Schuyler Hoffman at [email protected] to be on a special mailing list to be notified.

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