Monday, March 1, 2010

Nightlife in Avignon

What a hoot it is, and how grateful I am, to have girlfriends who know and enjoy the night spots (or at least a good selection of them) in Avignon.

Since I've been with my friend Véronique, the options for dancing and concerts have exploded in my life. I do feel like I'm picking up somewhere where I left off maybe fifteen years ago. During the life I lived in Seattle I went out, I went dancing, I enjoyed live music, I bopped through the night and went home to collapse into bed well wearied from moving to the many rhythms of the evening.

But, when I arrived in Paris, the smoking ban in public places and bars/restaurants was not as yet in effect and I just couldn't handle the polluted atmosphere. Call me an over-the-top American, but having gotten happily accustomed to partying in smoke-free environments, I just couldn't go back. So, much as I was sad to do so, I foreswore evenings in jazz clubs, many a party, and many a small and intimate restaurant.

Then, I got married, had kids, etc., and got just a bit side-tracked.

Now, I'm on my own -- at least most of the time -- and my kids are growing up and possibilities are opening up and hey, I live next to a really awesome city. I love to dance, and the possibilities for tango and salsa are many and of high quality, haut niveau,and at prix abordables. I can go out every Friday night and tango at the pratiques, bals, and milongas sponsored by the Ilôt Tango association/club with a range of lovely and competent cavaliers in safety and fun for 5Euros, and it's just 5 minutes from my house by car.

Salsa is possible nightly at the Cubanito around the corner from les Halles, or on special occasions further afield on Saturday nights. And concerts? Ah, I'm just beginning to dip my toes into these waters.

Le Delirium is a funky club reminiscent of the Crocodile club in Seattle (I'm dating myself...) just off the main drag in Avignon. It has great charm, comfort, and easy energy occupying nearly an entire second floor of a building overlooking the small side stree and the main avenue de la république. With the very energetic Véronique leading the way, we danced through the full two sets of a Latin inspired group based out of Marseille, three trombones, a flute, a clarinet, keyboards and strings, one main woman singer, one male, and many a superb back-up. Wow! they were tight, and the crowd was way psyched. By the end, my feet were ready for a serious hot bath.

And this weekend (I try to put only one crazy night per weekend...) I joined the Association du Quartier des Teinturiers, a very warm and wonderful gathering of diverse peoples who like to dance, care about the origins of their food, fair trade, organics, farmers' rights, and more. For a minimal sum we ate a home-cooked meal inspired by Brazil's varied cuisine (those black beans stayed with me for a while.... apparently they didn't toss out the soaking water, nor add cumin...), and sang and danced with Véro's group of Brazilian singers and musicians, all the while costumed as we might to the theme of "extravaganza."

All ages were welcome, and many were represented, from 13 - 75 (at least). The outfits were daring (men in drag, women of a certain age flaunting elegant gambes...), shoes reached heights rarely worn on the street, wigs of colors galore, Christmas tree tinsel astutely draped. I should have photographed there... the portraits would have been unique. Imagine, a child's pink tutu as a headress?

The evening took place in a tiny spot filled with fun, posters for many a virtuous cause, and blackboards dotted with prior menus.

Now that I'm a member, I certainly will try out future events.

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