Clubbing in… Paris | Features | MN2S

In the latest part of our series taking a look at the clubbing and live music scenes in cities around the world, we head to France and examine the resurgent scene in Paris.

Our guide is Brice from Concrete, one of the city’s most acclaimed clubs: Concrete. The boat-based club follows in the footsteps of the city’s legendary Batofar, another boat club where Dan Ghenacia and his Freak n’ Chic crew first came to major prominence. Hosting an eclectic mix of underground house and techno DJs from across the world, Concrete has garnered an impressive reputation since opening in 2011.

How did you first get started in promoting in Paris? How different were things then?

I just started to organise parties with my friends for fun, and to try to create something a bit different to what the clubs were offering at that time. Most of the parties were happening in the same clubs since a long time already and the events with good underground line-ups were definitely too rare for us. So we tried to change this.

But I have to say, we were not the only ones in this situation. Some other people did the same thing at the same moment, and that’s how it creates such a big movement in Paris from one day to another.

Recent years have seen France once again become a major territory for dance music. What happened after the French Touch era and how did things pick up again?

I don’t really know what happen exactly. Maybe a zodiac thing? I can just talk for myself but I was missing some good house and techno events in Paris in the 2000s. I was probably not the only one in this state of mind, so when new events and new promoters appeared in 2011/2012, people directly jumped into it. I think there was also all this hype around Berlin at that time which helped a lot.

What genres and scenes are most popular over there right now?

Techno is definitely the big thing right now in Paris. I think French people have always enjoyed the raw and tough side of music. We also have a lot of house music fans, with a big community of very talented house dancers, voguers [see video below] and so on. Minimal house is also something very strong in Paris, with a very big community of people very passionated by this genre.

The interesting thing is, whatever kind of music they prefer, French people are mostly into very quality music now.

Aside from your own, what are your favourite venues in Paris and why?

For sure Concrete is my living room and I spend most of my party time there, so it doesn’t let me so many opportunities to dance somewhere else. But I used to go a lot to the Rex Club and Batofar. Now I really love the 75021 [pictured below] parties and I really respect what are the [BP] guys are doing, as well as La Mamie’s, Blocaus and some of the other young crews. But anyway, there are so many things to do right now in Paris every weekend that I could probably do a very long list of amazing parties.

75021 Paris

Would you say Parisian crowds are relatively open-minded or are people more into their niches/genres?

It depends. The old school generation is quite conservative and I find this very annoying. Techno fans only go in techno parties and same for house or minimal house fans – but the new generation is totally different. They are way more open-minded, and able to enjoy Surgeon the same way they can enjoy Motor City Drum Ensemble or Ar:pi:ar. I’m really happy for this, because I also enjoy all these kind of genres and I think they are all related by some musical bridges. We just need to open our minds to cross them.

Have the Parisian authorities traditionally been more supportive of dance music culture? Do they see the value of France’s dance music industry to the economy?

It has been a long and difficult road but they finally understand we are doing culture and music. The stupid techno/drug association is less and less present, even if it’s still difficult to explain there is more cocaine in the poshy mainstream Champs Elysées clubs than in our techno events. But we start to get support and acknowledgement from the authorities, even if France is a very tough country in term of legislation and liberty.

How about live music? Is that a healthy industry in Paris at the moment?

People spend a lot of time dancing in clubs and festivals, so they want something more than a simple DJ spinning records all night long. They really enjoy live performances, but they are waiting for something more impressive than the simple laptop/Ableton Live performance.

They are more into improvisation and big set-ups, and they are more and more interested in gear. We did a special stage at Weather Festival strictly dedicated to live performances with modular synths, and people really enjoyed it. That’s why vinyl is also really appreciated here. People really enjoy to see the artists taking risks in the DJ booth.

What trends or changes do you predict for the next year or two in Paris in terms of nightlife and festivals?

I think the scene grew up really, really fast these last four years. Even maybe a little bit too much, but I won’t complain. I hope the next step now will be to put more quality and soul in the events and the music produced by French artists. And to educate the crowd more and more. Musical education for sure, but also to the behaviors to have on a dancefloor and in a party in general. French crowd is still a bit messy but I think they will progressively change.

If you could change one thing about the Parisian nightlife or live music industry, what would it be and why?

Very easy question. I would take out all this negativity spread by people on the internet to always complain and criticise. I don’t mean you can’t criticise – it’s even important – but it has to be done in a constructive way.

Sometime I read Parisian people writing: “Parisians are terrible, they are always complaining“. But when they are saying this, they are just talking about themselves and proving one more time, that they spend their time complaining! I really believe in vibes and energies, and I think that the support of a positive crowd can bring you very high and permit you to achieve really special things. Thankfully I still receive a lot more of good vibes than bad ones.

Which Parisian artists and DJ talents should we be looking out for?

Very hard question this time! My resident artists are definitely the best! That’s why I choose them! Cabanne is definitely the man for house and minimal house right now. He’s touring everywhere and killing it every time. He’s working on his first album right now and I can tell you it will be really huge. We have so many talents in techno that I won’t be able to mention them all but Antigone, Francois X, DJ Deep, Zadig, Polar Inertia (and Voiski), Behzad & Amarou, Shlomo, Bambounou and In Aeternam Vale are among the more talented for me.

House music is really well represented also. We have guys like Jeremy Underground, Ben Vedren, the superstars Apollonia, S3A, Seuil, Le Loup, Lowris, Lazare Hoche… but behind these guys, there are a lot more of newcomers working hard that you will hear about very soon probably.

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