Paris in the 1920’s, following the first World War, was plagued with an exodus of expats from many countries. They started planting their feet for two decades of Fun, Love, Vision and Passion. From Paris, a new literary and artistic revolution would sprout from the Cafe’s and Clubs. As I mentioned before the term Lost Generation was coined by scion Gertrude Stein who was spiritual and physical epicenter of the Lost Generation in Paris. Her home or salon was graced by some of the most amazing thinkers, artisans and writers of their time.
This circle of young 20-30 somethings saw the end of the first World War and looked to Paris for not only inspiration but to find a rebirth. The likes of the Fitzgerald’s, Murphy’s and Hemingway’s were visionaries and would help usher in the Cafè Society to the late 30’s. To name drop, the circle did not discriminate. From artists like Picasso and Braque, writers like T.S. Elliot & Remarque and performance artists like Isadora Duncan and Josephine Baker. Art movements such as Surrealism and Art Deco were born and several movements planted their seeds in Paris during this period. Most notably, Tristan Tzara brought Dada right after WWI. It flourished through the 1920’s. From Dada sprung politically inspired demonstrators and performers, voices that powered artists in the second World War and painted targets on their backs.
Some of the haunts for this large crowd were mostly located in Montmartre & Montparnasse. Popular restaurants in Montmartre were Le Trou dans la Mur (Which is now a wine bar) and over in Montparnasse was Closerie des Lilas & The Dingo (where Hemmingway and Fitzgerald first met and started their friendship.) Other notable haunts were Maxim’s around the corner from the Place de la Concorde, Lipp's and Harry New York Bar. Sadly this world of greatness on the streets of Paris has not been a popular topic in Film. I would recommend checking out Midnight in Paris. A delicious film but purely fictional, well almost. If I ever had a choice to go back in time to a certain period, Paris in the 20’s is certainly on the top of my list. The passion and life that lived during this period is extremely potent.
This time and place was a strong inspiration for the cabaret. One could easily choose the Belle Époque as an obvious choice but this period of Paris still had the Moulin Rouge on top of it's game and the literature, art and fashion from this period is abundant. You can draw so much from this period.