Once upon a time, a “cabaret” was a divided serving dish for salads in which colors and tastes contrasted. This inspired design is a good metaphor for another kind of cabaret, the incomparable Lido, and sums up perfectly how the cabaret has evolved over time. In the 15th century, cabarets were taverns where poets and artists met to drink and talk, but it was not until the 19th century that they became a popular phenomenon. People went there to eat, drink and sing, at a time when songs were often the only way of commenting on current events, since only the educated bourgeoisie and aristocracy could read.
In 1881, wine merchant Rodolphe Salis created the first cabaret in the modern sense. The Chat Noir in Montmartre was an immediate success, offering a blend of entertainment and cultural expression that soon spread across Europe. Like the Lido today, it welcomed unknowns and celebrities alike, with patrons such as Guy de Maupassant and Claude Debussy.
The seeds of Dadaism flowered in Switzerland’s Cabaret Voltaire, a meeting place for artists during World War I. Cabarets reached the United States in 1918, and flourished thanks in part to Prohibition. For once, Europe was ahead of America, a privileged position that it still holds today, thanks to the Lido.
“Bonheur”- happiness in French - is the name of the Lido’s upcoming revue. Scheduled to open in early December, the new show will light up the stage at the world’s most celebrated cabaret.
The Lido is like a large ship moored on the Champs-Elysées, where 2,000 passengers embark every evening to be transported by the luxurious costumes, sparkling show, beautiful dancers, dazzling special effects and a gourmet meal created by Philippe Lacroix. Each revue, which runs for five years, is like a cruise to a new destination. Behind the scenes, an invisible, soundless system of hoists, stage sets and pulleys - like on an aircraft carrier -changes the tableaux, replacing, for example, an ice-skating rink with a swimming pool.
On the deck, 400 crewmembers - from stagehands to the leading lady - who share the same artistic sensibilities work together under the leadership of the ship’s captain, Artistic Director Pierre Rambert.
A new generation of ship owners are at the helm: Carl and Frank Clerico, who have maintained the great tradition of the past while staying in tune with the times… our times… the third millennium. The young CEOs have two top priorities: creating emotion and, for the first time at the Lido, staging a revue with a single, continuous storyline linking each tableau - a woman’s search for happiness - “Bonheur”.