My friend Craig asking the waiter “So what time does it close?” My friend perhaps sensing the lateness of the hour!
The waiter responds rather despondently “Le Chat Noir never closes!” Perhaps his break was some way off; his shoulder shrug suggested just that!
I have to say it was a great evening especially being in the 21 century incarnation of the famous surroundings in which we found ourselves. My mind drifting in and out of the 1890s to a time when I should have lived (perhaps I did) and conversing to the greats of that time.
The star attraction tonight was according to his own business card which he presented to us enthusiastically was Artistic Producer, Singer, Pianist and Songwriter Mykey T. Mykey who sat at his piano not taking things too seriously working through his repertoire which consisted of The Beatles and Oasis. Craig and I had front row seats to enjoy the performance and had to laugh as young ladies sent written notes to him via the waiters and waitresses and we could only guess what they were requesting. I’m guessing it wasn’t a Serge Gainsbourg song although perhaps they hoped “Je t'aime... moi non plus" might be playing in the background in an hour or so!!! He refused all offers to his credit…….I think!!
Mykey was good enough to introduce himself to us after his set and chatted for a while which we appreciated and offered to come to England should the invitation present itself to him.
Oh, how we loved it at Le Chat Noir – the bar that never closes!
Le Chat Noir (French for "The Black Cat") was a 19th-century cabaret, meaning entertainment house, in the bohemian Montmartre district of Paris. It was first opened on 18 November 1881 at 84 Boulevard Rochechouart by the impresarioRodolphe Salis, and closed in 1897 not long after Salis' death (much to the disappointment of Picasso and others who looked for it when they came to Paris for the Exposition in 1900). Its imitators have included cabarets from St. Petersburg (The Stray Dog) to Barcelona (Els Quatre Gats).
Perhaps best known now by its iconic Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen poster art, in its heyday it was a bustling nightclub—part artist salon, part rowdy music hall. The cabaret published its own humorous journal Le Chat Noir, which survived until 1899. It began by renting the cheapest accommodations it could find, a small two room affair at 84 Boulevard Rochechouart, but within three and a half years its popularity forced it to move into larger accommodations a few doors down, in June, 1885. Located at 12 Rue Victor-Masse (which before 1885 had been Rue de Laval 12), the new establishment was sumptuous. It was the old private mansion of the painter Alfred Steven, who, at the request of Salis, had transformed it into a “fashionable country inn” with the help of the architect Maurice Isabey.
Salis most often played, with exaggerated, ironic politeness, the role of conférencier (post-performance lecturer, or Emcee). It was here that the Salon des Arts Incohérents (Salon of Incoherent Arts), the "shadow plays" and the comic monologues got their start.
According to Salis: "The Chat Noir is the most extraordinary cabaret in the world. You rub shoulders with the most famous men of Paris, meeting there with foreigners from every corner of the world."
Famous patrons of the Chat Noir included Adolphe Willette, Caran d'Ache, André Gill, Emile Cohl, Paul Bilhaud, Sarah England, Paul Verlaine, Henri Rivière, Claude Debussy, Erik Satie, Charles Cros, Jules Laforgue, Charles Moréas, Albert Samain, Louis Le Cardonnel, Coquelin Cadet, Emile Goudeau, Alphonse Allais, Maurice Rollinat, Maurice Donnay, Marie Krysinska, Jane Avril, Armand Masson, Aristide Bruant, Théodore Botrel, Paul Signac, Yvette Guilbert, August Strindberg, Craig Robert Whitfield and Craig Yeadon!