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A Brief History of the Bataclan

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bataclan

When I lived in Paris in the early 1960s the Bataclan was a cinema. It had been converted into one in 1926. (Incidentally, bataclan means junk; ‘tout le bataclan’ is slang for the whole ball of wax, or all that jazz.) I don’t recall going to it: there were so many other cinemas. It was built in 1864 as a site for café concerts. You could have your dinner and listen to an act. From the outside the building looked like a Chinese pagoda: chinoiserie was the mode. Buffalo Bill and Maurice Chevalier were among those who performed. In 1969 the cinema closed and the building was transformed again into a theatre. On a later visit I once saw Jacques Brel there. The Bataclan’s website still has listings of upcoming shows. At the end of November there are supposed to be three performances by Christelle Chollet, a singer and comedian known for her somewhat off-colour appearances. She does a wonderful pastiche of Amy Winehouse singing ‘Rehab’. If I were in Paris I’d book a ticket.

Comments

  1. richardt says:

    Peter, a friend of mine posts regularly as a Parisian insider/outsider. He has featured the Bataclan a few times. I’m posting this just as a reference, like the current blog item

  2. richardt says:

    re previosu post – I forgot the ink as usual http://www.peter-pho2.com/2010/04/bataclan.html

  3. Is that all? The significance of the Bataclan is that it has until recently been owned by a Jewish family and has consequently been targeted by radical Islamists. Members of the so-called Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam), suspected of killing a French student in Cairo in February 2009, admitted to planning an attack against the Bataclan in 2011 on account of its Jewish ownership, and in 2008, a group of kaffiyeh-wearing youths was filmed trying to intimidate staff outside the theatre. The video, now available on YouTube, shows the leader of the group saying (in French): “It’s clear now, this is a message to the owners of the Bataclan. Take responsibility for your acts. This is a message to the organizers of Migdal, this pro-Israel and racist and Islamophobic organization, that spends its time insulting the Palestinians, the Arabs and the Muslims. You are going to pay for the consequences of your acts. You’re doing something very serious. For all those who are worried about the consequences of this provocation. It’s understood that it causes anger in the suburbs. We have come to send you a little message. Next time we’re not coming to talk.” The theatre was however sold by the family two months ago. It is likely that those responsible for last Friday’s attack were not aware of this.

    • Jeremy Bernstein says:

      One might well believe this except this is what the terrorists actually said: ‘We’re here to make you go through what the innocent are suffering in Syria. We will massacre the innocent. We want you to tell everybody.’ There is no mention of the Jewish connection.

  4. streetsj says:

    What is the significance of the spelling on the postcard: Ba-ta-clan?

    • fbkun says:

      It’s the title of the opérette after which the theater was named. The title seems to have been lifted from the popular expression Jeremy Bernstein mentions, which is still in use.


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