It was Friday night and I made my way towards Faubourg Saint-Denis, the up-and-coming and much-hyped about quarter in the 10eme. We’re talking edgy and slightly hipster, with a hint of je ne sais quoi to satisfy personal intrigue. We’d rightly chosen funky asylum over shishi Parisian café, and rightly so. I was oozing with anticipation.
As I walked down the street, map in hand, a soggy umbrella hanging from my wrist and last winter’s coat draped over my arm, I looked excitedly for the rather inconspicuously named “L’Inconnu” (“Unknown”), a relatively new stomping ground which sells itself on the profound literature of Victor Hugo: “Le bonheur est parfois caché dans l’inconnu” (Happiness is sometimes hidden in the unknown). The irony however was visible when I noticed a bustling crowd of cigarette-clad students mounting on the street corner like wildfire. It seemed that the bar was more well-known than its name gave it credit for. Needless to say I’d struggle finding my friends inside.
The length of the actual bar resulted in long delays re: getting drinks, but my friends had secured a leather sofa and armchair near the door on which I immediately flung my belongings. The humidity was noticeable as I felt my shirt sticking to my back and there was nothing I needed more than a glass of wine to revive me after a long day in the office. The drinks were reasonably priced and after grabbing the attention of the barista I immediately ordered a glass of their rosé which seemed exceptionally attractive at only €3. My thirst was quenched in a matter of seconds.
This was the first time we’d all been out as interns and it made a nice change from staring at a PC all day. Conversations no longer revolved around shift schedules, non-functioning printers and necessary vending machine purchases to while away the hours of email-sending and photocopying. Instead we discussed the office eye-candy, a subject which I admittedly was willing to spend a few hours on, but an area not as keenly engaged with by the other interns who were more attracted to cutting news headlines and prospective employment. I jest...slightly.
I was then informed of a mysterious dance floor which I hadn’t as yet paid a visit to. After pushing through the crowds, we waltzed down the steps as girls with short skirts and low cut tops tried to push their way back up towards the bar. The men’s toilets were on our right as we made our descent, the urinals protected only by a small shutter, giving us an intrusive display of men peeing which I hadn’t premeditated. Needless to say, the furore surrounding this attractive exhibition wasn’t coming from my end.
The propelling music was coming from a darkly lit room, set further in the depths of the cave-like lair. It was like we were in the basement of someone’s house for an underground lock-in and empty glasses cluttered around what looked like a makeshift DJ booth. Heads were bobbing to the rhythmic beats as DJ Slow and Piu Piu kept the volume levels paramount. A few kisses were exchanged as “exotic” (change the “x” to an “r”) dance moves were displayed with no eyebrows raised.
I felt a drip on my head and realised that the ceiling was leaking. After touching the walls I realised that they too were damp. I was initially fazed by this unusual addition to the evening, only hoping it wasn’t payback from the men’s urinals situation. It was now more than ever like we’d been flung into a cave surrounded by sea water. I was just hoping I wouldn’t step on any crabs in the process.
I soon saw light of it however and agreed that it definitely gave the bar a very “edgy” touch. Pumping music, not plumbing, was clearly on the top of their prospectus.
Watch this space.