Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Dance-Floor Democracy

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Dance-Floor Democracy

Article excerpt

Dance-floor democracy

THESE profound reflections made me think of the public dances of Paris, which I attend from time to time as a distraction from the tormetns of homesickness. I have neither the time, the inclination nor the means to lose myself in these delightful frivolities, the enjoyment of which I envy in others. Ah, if I only had forty thousand pesos, what a year I would give myself in Paris! With what memories I would brighten up my old age! But I am sensible, and content myself with observing, rather than scrounging from others as some people do.

The Paris dance-halls are public buildings rather like the theatres which they attempt to outdo in sumptuousness, brilliance and style. The Rannelag [Ranelagh] is comparable to the Italian operas as regards the quality of its patrons. There I have come across Balzac, George Sand, Soulie and other leading literary figures. The Chateau-Rouge is illuminated, at the end of each month, by eighty thousand lamps; the Bal Maville [Bal Mabille] attracts the most famous dancers; the Chaumiere, paradise of Latin Quarter students, is a fortress at the entrance to which even the policeman must leave his sword. Every other day these public dance-halls open their doors to their thousands of customers. The men pay an entrance fee--on some days three francs, on others two, one franc fifty centimes on a Monday and five francs at the end of the month, for the Grand Festival. The ladies, who are always allowed in for nothing, come from all social strata, behaving with more or less familiarity depending on the day of the week and on their relationship with the men who pay--either one franc fifty centimes or five francs, according to their means. Very well-bred ladies go there to watch, and young women of all classes are regular and passionate fans of one dance-hall of another. …

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