Le Palace  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Le Palace was, from 1978 through 1983, a fashionable Parisian place where relations between fashion, music, "Parisian chic," and underground culture crystallized.

The place had an eventful history. It opened its doors in 1923. Becoming a movie house in 1946, after World War II, it recovered its original name: Le Palace. From 1975 through 1978, it again became a theater run by Pierre Laville.

The building on Faubourg Montmartre was in almost complete neglect, but the minister of Culture of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, Michel Guy, chose the place as a venue for the very new Paris Autumn Festival.

Afterward the place was bought by one of the personalities of the Parisian night life, the proprietor of the restaurant-discotheque on Sainte-Anne street, le Sept, Fabrice Emaer, who ordered important construction work, restoring the original decor of the '30s, incurring colossal expenses which were to be a lasting burden on the future of the club. On the 1st of March 1978, Fabrice Emaer opened this place with a show of Grace Jones, international model, star, and singer. The waiters, dressed in flamboyant red and gold costumes, were clothed by the couturier Thierry Mugler.

Le Palace very quickly became the fashionable place and the most (and best) frequented discotheque of the capital. There theme nights followed one after the other and the ball, a forgotten practice, was reinvented. There couturiers Kenzo, Karl Lagerfeld, Claude Montana, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac etc., organized fashion shows and parties. Bands of the period such as Les Musulmans fumants performed there, Prince held his first concert there. In 1980, Fabrice Emaer opened beneath Le Palace a private restaurant/discotheque, Le Privilège, reserved for the jet set and for princes and princesses of the night for whom the excessive social diversity of the Palace broke rules. The decoration of the place was entrusted to Gérard Garouste, the creation of the furniture to Elisabeth Garouste.

Overwhelmed by cancer of the kidneys, Fabrice Emaer died in 1983. It's the end of an era.

Le Palace is taken up by ex-associates of Fabrice Emaer but with the passing of time debts accumulate. On several occasions, drug trafficking leads to the administrative closure of the place for periods of three to six months, further weakening the financial situation. It is however le Palace of the years 1983/1989 which would witness the birth of the very Parisian infatuation with House Music with the parties of Jean-Claude Lacreze or of La Nicole (Nicolas), but specially the Pyramid parties around 1987, organized by the English of S-Express. The American artist Leigh Bowery was frequently invited there. Also, the Gay Tea Dance received two to three thousand participants each Sunday afternoon.

In 1992, Régine herself, former 'rival' of the night of Fabrice Emaer, "Queen of the Parisian Night," tries to take the site, followed in 1994 by the couple David and Cathy Guetta who try to relaunch it with le Privilège, renovated and renamed Kitkat. The decorations of Garouste disappear.

The place closes down for good in 1996. In the years that follow, Le Palace is occupied by squatters. In 2007, the brothers Alil and Hazis Vardar, Belgians of Albanian origin purchase the hall with the money of Francis and Chantal Lemaire, proprietors of Radio Contact in Belgium. The Vardar brothers, already proprietors in Paris of Comédie République and Grande Comédie, halls with 200 and 400 seats which are filled every night because of good comedies. After its rehabilitation, they reopen Le Palace (970 seats) to present, since 2007, popular comedies, one man shows, and television broadcasts.

Golden age

Le Palace had been, at the end of the 1970s and at the beginning of the 1980s, a mythical place, closely linked to pop and to the emergence of gay culture.

Among the regulars or its most famous visitors (to name just a few) were Alain Pacadis, of the newspaper Libération who frequently evoked le Palace and its regulars in his chronicles; couturier Karl Lagerfeld; semiotician Roland Barthes, professor at the Collège de France; singer Mick Jagger; American artist Andy Warhol; journalist Frédéric Mitterrand; decorator Andrée Putman; movie producer and illustrator Jean-Paul Goude; model and singer Grace Jones; couturier Kenzo; couturier Yves Saint-Laurent; the CEO of Yves Saint-Laurent and friend of François Mitterrand, Pierre Bergé; actress Alice Sapritch; impersonator of celebrities Thierry Le Luron; publicist and art gallery owner Cyril Putman, etc.

FYI: Le Palace opened on Friday, 10 March 1978 when the permission to open had been denied by the fire safety commission, because it lacked signaling devices at the steps of the stairs. Nevertheless, the place was inaugurated that day then closed for 10 days only to reopen on 18 March 1978.


  • Roland Barthes, Au Palace ce soir, written for Vogues Hommes in 1978, reprinted in Incidents, by Seuil.
  • Daniel Garcia, Les années Palace, by Flammarion.
  • Jean Rouzaud and Guy Marineau, Le Palace: Remember, by Hoebeke.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Le Palace" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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