It's the end for the famous Lido cabaret at Paris' Champs-Elysees.
The venue's corporate owner has decided to dump most of the Lido's staff, as well as its high-kicking, high glamour dance shows, which dates back decades and have inspired many copycats, in favor of smaller musical revues.
Black-clad dancers protested Saturday's Lido on the sidewalk. They then danced to cheering crowds, lifting their legs to the traditional cabaret song.
Passers-by along Champs-Elysees Avenue were handed leaflets by the group. They lamented the fate of Lido and warmly applauded their performance. The Moulin Rouge brought dancers to support Lido's staff, including its Bluebell Girls dance troupe.
Hillary Van Moorleghem, a dancer, described the protest as an expression of sadness and disappointment on behalf of the entire staff and called the cabaret shows part of France's cultural heritage.
She said, "I am American and I came to understand French culture through French dance."
The Lido, which featured on-stage waterfalls, an Ice Rink and a Pool, was a Paris institution that revolutionized Parisian nightlife. It attracted performers such as Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich, Elton John, and Laurel and Hardy. There were also famous spectators.
Jeremy Bauchet is the assistant ballet master at the club. He laments what he fears will happen to the cabaret in Paris.
The Lido is Paris's most elegant, prestigious and entertaining cabaret revue. He described it as "an enchanting interlude within a magical world."
French hotel giants Accor bought the club recently and plans to eliminate 157 of its 184 employees. Technicians and artists will be most affected. Accor stated that it wants to eliminate the expensive dinner shows and revues because they "don’t attract the public anymore." It also plans to restore the building.
The name of the Lido will be preserved, but the soul of the cabaret will disappear. Frank Lafitte, National Union of Artistic Activities, stated that the Lido would be a basic venue that people rent.
Along with the Moulin Rouge and Crazy Horse, the Lido is one of Paris's last cabarets. It has been offering two shows per evening, seven days a semaine, and includes performances by singers, dancers, and the Bluebell Girls troupe, which was founded in 1932 by Margaret Kelly, an Irish dancer. Kelly, also known as Miss Bluebell, toured the globe with her troupe and inspired a Las Vegas Lido franchise.
Over 50,000 people have signed an online petition to save Bluebell Girls.
People wanted to have fun when the Lido reopened following World War II. The Clerico brothers bought the place to make it a luxurious venue. Sonia Rachline, author a book on the Lido, said that they invented dinner shows.
Rachline said that the shows were very French and Parisian due to the sophistication and precision of the dance moves and costumes, but also because they have this American madness inspired musicals.
The Moulin Rouge enjoyed a renewed interest in 2001's film, but the Lido has been struggling with declining attendance and economic problems exacerbated by the COVID-19 crises.
Some people find the shows to be increasingly out of date. The Lido attempted to reinvent itself in 2015 with a new revue from a Cirque du Soleil director, but it was not as successful as they had hoped.
Accor stated that the cabaret had lost 80 million euros (or $85.6 million) in the last decade. Lido employees are expected to lose their jobs in the summer.
People who have worked at Lido, from backstage staff to dancers to dressing room staff to dressmakers, have a unique personal connection to the venue.
Yves Valente, a retired designer for the Lido set, stated that no other venue featured waterfalls, ice rinks and pools. "The Lido is a marvel of machinery and special effects.
Saturday's protest was particularly poignant for Danielle Douhet Broussier (68), a former Lido dancer who came to support the younger dancers trying to save their jobs.
She said that the Lido was "my entire life." There were the best days of my entire life."