posted on August 10, 2007 15:07
With some of Dublin's live music venues closed for reconstruction, it seems that every tent, marquee and big top in Ireland will be mobilised into active rock n'roll duty. But what if it's a windy night and, just as Arcade Fire walk on stage, the tent blows away? Can you take that chance?
Well, in Paris there's a neat line in alternative venues: barges on the Seine. We went to one, the Alternat, for a punk night a while back. The boat was moored at Bercy, just upriver from the Gare de Lyon and Austerlitz, and the gig took place in the hold of the barge. It's a strange feeling to be a a concert and literally rock and roll with the music - looking left we could see out the portholes as police boats cruised up and down and their wash lapped against the hull.
The barges are extremely popular as nightspots. Perhaps the best known among Paris music fans is the Batofar (above) - a fire-engine-red former lightship which actually comes from Ireland. It was restored in the nineties and opened as a venue in 1999. Docked at Tolbiac (not far from the Alternat), it can hold 300 punters in its venue space and hosts French and international DJs and electronica acts.
Another much-loved floating venue is the Cabaret Pirate (left), known to all Parisians by its former name of La Guinguette Pirate. As the name suggests, it looks like a pirate ship - and just like the Batofar it regularly hosts top DJs and dance acts. However, the old Guingette's most popular shows were always its dance nights - salsa, zouk, reggae and so forth. The new venue's programme seems to feature less world sounds, which is a shame - discos and electro nights in Paris can be intimidatingly hip and cool, whereas dance nights are licence to dance and flirt shamelessly (so we're told).
In Dublin there's a distinctive red barge moored near Patrick Kavanagh's statue on the Grand Canal - it serves as a French restaurant. There was also U2's video for 'Gloria', where the superstars-to-be played on the deck of a canal barge. Perhaps some old boat can be spruced up, moored at the Docklands and used as a small venue? It would surely be a lot less leakier than a tent in a park in October.More ...