The Clerico brothers bought the Lido from Léon Volterra in 1946. They transformed it, gave it a luxurious facelift and brought in a host of new ideas. Each show is a huge success, and made even more so by the high quality attractions. They created and started the dinner show idea, which was to be imitated all over the world. In 1947, the cabaret starred Laurel and Hardy for the only performance the American comedians gave in France. Gradually, the Lido’s reputation spread worldwide, to such an extent that in 1958, a replica of its show was performed in Las Vegas, where the contract, initially due to last six months, ran for thirty-two years. The New Lido was created in 1977 and moved from 78 Champs Elysées to 116 bis. It is bigger, grander and more luxurious, but the spirit is the same. And so are the surprises which have always marked the history of this establishment.
Filled with wonder at the beautiful blue-eyed baby, the doctor leaned over her: “Bluebell” he whispered. The nickname stuck with Margareth Kelly, an Irish woman who was abandoned as a child. Later, when she became a dancer, she remembered this and adopted it as her stage name. And so “Miss Bluebell” was born. Her troupe, in which each dancer had to be at least 1m75 tall, soon became well known. But it only climbed to fame when it joined the Lido in 1948. She discovered a crew quite out of the ordinary. The men at the helm were the Clerico brothers, Joseph and Louis, who very soon made contact with Pierre-Louis Guérinn a showman, impresario and nightclub owner. He was ambitious, spared no expense and loved to put into practice the ideas people suggested to him. A year later they were joined by René Fraday whose mind is always teeming with ideas and who travels the world to find exceptional attractions. Over the years, he has invented the ice rink, the swimming pool and the aquatic effects, and helicopters hovering in the theatre, initiatives which had never before been seen on stage. For some thirty years, this “Famous Five” group was like the “dream musketeers” club, dominating the Paris music-hall scene and amazing the whole world.
The Lido has always been excellent at inventing and achieving its artistic ambitions by using state of the art technologies. Innovations created at the Lido, and used by only a small number of other cabaret theatres throughout the world, include part of the room that can be lowered by 80 centimetres so that the stage can be seen by all the spectators, a pool containing eighty tons of water, a skating rink and fountains using as much as 60,000 litres for each performance. Some improvements have been made for Bonheur, as the comfort of the audience is paramount. The lighting has been redone to obtain greater luminosity with fewer spotlights and the sound is now completely digital, thereby affording a particularly good quality and allowing for some totally new sound effects. For the Lido, in true cabaret tradition, music is essential, and everything revolves round it to the extent that when it stops, the lights also stop. Although automation reigns supreme, the music is anything but synthetic. It is recorded by a symphony orchestra, with live backing from the Lido orchestra, a solution that gives the show that little bit extra. And of course the Lido band is present throughout the dinner.
Of the 500,000 or so annual spectators, 40% are French and 20% European, 15% come from Asia, 10% from America and 5% each from Russia and Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. The remaining 5% comes from the rest of the world. Naturally, audience satisfaction comes at a price, and it is pretty steep: each show costs about ten million euros. The Lido reputation is such that, to meet the demand, the cabaret has to hold special evening shows. Since it was created, not including the prestigious world premiĂ¨res, it has also been the venue for television programmes, fashion shows, charity galas plus shows by the most famous singers such as Franck Sinatra, Shirley MacLaine and Elton John. And when, in 1998, the French won the football world cup, they demanded the Lido to celebrate their victory.
This little sound is known the world over. A champagne cork pops and the party gets underway. At the Lido, you can hear this noise repeated eight hundred times every evening. With something over 200,000 bottles a year, it is the world’s biggest champagne consumer. Serving the nine hundred or so diners are some hundred men in black (the maîtres-d’hôtel, chefs de rang and commis waiters). In the huge kitchens from which two ramps slope gently down to the dining room, other men officiate, in white, this time, and wearing chef’s hats. This is the brigade of thirty-five cooks and pastry chefs who work under the orders of the chef Philippe Lacroix. Philippe Lacroix keeps a close eye on the taste and quality of the products whose origins are scrupulously checked. The chicken has to come from Bresse and the salmon has to have kept the freshness of its original waters. He also makes sure that the menus vary with the seasons, and he makes it a point of honour that the special New Year’s Eve menu is never quite the same, from one year to the next, nor completely different either.
The wings at the Lido are known as the “aircraft carrier”. No one knows who first started the expression but everyone uses it. The term describes the procedure that raises and lowers the stage, the swimming pool, the ice rink and the different sets and then places them automatically in huge drawers just as the planes are placed in an aircraft carrier. This is just one of the many secrets in the wings of the Lido. 7,500 square metres and as high as six storeys from stage to ceiling. There are always new tricks so that the show runs smoothly and that the many set changes (one every four minutes) and costume changes do not cause the slightest mistake. Every evening, the 30 technicians are on the deck. Like the watchman in his tiny crow’s nest overlooking the room watches over everything, ready to intervene at the slightest incident. If the technology fails, music starts immediately. In Lido jargon this practice is known as “a Versailles”. Visiting the wings is like wandering round a village. Among the things you can see are a hairdressing salon, an infirmary and even a gym. The only place you wouldn’t find in a little village is the girls’ dressing rooms, where they pile in anything they like. Sometimes, in all this shambles, where beauty products are hidden among tubes of makeup, water bottle and family photos, there sits a large teddy bear. The Bluebell Girls have not lost touch with their inner child…
You have to cross the footbridges, go up a few steep staircases, and lose yourself in the labyrinth to get there. Here, in a little room, you come across Ali Babaâ€™s cavern: sequins, feathers, paste, lace, satins, ankle boots, leather, jewels, hundreds of beads and buttons. Twelve seamstresses, under the watchful eye of Joceline AndrĂŠ, look after these treasures. These are the Lido seamstresses. Their task is to keep the costumes in perfect condition and is both tricky and essential as, with two shows a day and one extravaganza lasting several years, anything might happen. Especially since each male and female dancer changes costume between twenty and thirty times in a performance. And some of these changes have to be done in less than a minute: the twenty-four dressers hardly have time to turn round. So every day Joceline and her colleagues pin and sew with one imperative: the costumes have to be as sparkling and elegant as on the first day. For the costumes too have a huge role to play in the perfection of an evening at the Lido. There are so many costumes (over six hundred) that you can see them all over the theatre. As soon as one space is free, a dress, negligee or gown is put there. Further on, hundreds of shoes and dozens of wigs are also at the ready. All this finery, lined up as if on parade, feeds the imagination and awakens the memory. Suddenly, it all comes back intact, the memories, the sheer happiness you feel on seeing the show.
The Lido has always used animals in all its shows. They have their own special lift and arrive directly on stage. Almost all species under the sun have worked with the Bluebell Girls: birds, chimpanzees, llamas, dromedaries, black panthers, seals and bears have taken part in the shows. Some have even become famous, like the horses running on a home-trainer to illustrate a medieval tournament. Or the American Johnny Martinâ€™s dogs who were so lazy they refused to perform the acts so that their master had to do them instead. Everything is done to ensure the comfort of these special guests. A basement was built when one show presented eighteen horses accompanying the Bluebell Girls. And a special pool had to be built for the seals to wait in before they went on stage.
A FEW FIGURES
In February 2006, the Lido became part of Groupe Sodexo. Madame Nathalie Szabo is today the first woman President of the Board. Daughter of Pierre Bellon, founding President of Groupe Sodexo, she has taken over at the head of the sport and leisure unit, Sodexo Sports et Loisirs (Lido, Sodexo Prestige, Len么tre, Bateaux Parisiens, Yachts de Paris, etc.). The General Management of the Lido is headed by Herv茅 Duperret who took over in 2011.
Number of guests a year Number of seats for dinner Number of seats in total Area of the room Area of the balcony Area of the Salon Bluebell Total number of staff Number of bottles of champagne Number of kitchen staff Number of staff in the theatre Number of kilos of foie gras Number of kilos of lobster
Number of Bluebell Girls
Number of Lido Boy Dancers Number of floorshow artistes
Total number of artistes on stage Number of dressers Number of technicians Number of sets Number of costumes Dressmaking atelier
500,000 people 950 seats for dinner 1,250 seats in total 900 m2 250 m2 120 m2 350 people 200,000 bottles per year 30 people 100 people 1.5 tonnes per year 12,000 lobsters per year
48 dancers 1 singer captain 1 lead dancer 18 male dancers 1 diabolo juggler 1 stand-up comedian 1 aerial acrobat 2 ice skaters 2 acrobats 70 artistes on stage 25 dressers 42 technicians and stagehands 23 sets 600 costumes 10 seamstresses and apprentices 1 feather mistress
The Lido is open every day of the year without a break
Dinner: First show:
from 7.00 pm 9.00 pm (please arrive 30 minutes before the show begins) The show lasts 1 hour 40 minutes.
11.00 pm (please arrive 30 minutes before the show begins) The show lasts 1 hour 40 minutes.
by telephone: 33 1 40 76 56 10 (every day from 9 am to 1 am) by fax: 33 1 45 61 19 41 on the spot: every day from 10 am to 1 am on Internet: www.lido.fr
Metro RER Car Parks Taxis
Line 1 - at George V (in front of the entrance) Line A - at Charles de Gaulle / Etoile Champs-ElysĂŠes or Georges V Taxi ranks nearby. Bellboys at reception
The Lido shop
A wide and varied range of products and gifts with the Lido label is available in the Lido shop, open every day from 6 pm to 1 am.
RATES FOR 2014 (except February 14th and December 24th and 31st 2014)
DINNER – SHOW An exceptional evening of entertainment from 7.00 to 10.40pm : - 4 menus to choose from with a half-bottle of champagne per person - a musical atmosphere during dinner with the Lido big band - the BONHEUR show starting 9.00pm
Soirée Plaisir Soirée Panache Soirée Bonheur Service Premier
160.00 euros 180.00 euros 210.00 euros 300.00 euros
CHAMPAGNE – SHOW A 1 hour and 40 minutes journey through the magic world of our BONHEUR show : -shows at 9.00 or 11.00pm with a half-bottle of champagne per person
Soirée Emotion 9.00pm
Soirée Quelle Nuit 11.00pm
Soirée Service Premier 11.00pm
Show Children 9.00pm
Show Children 11.00pm
CONTACT Anne-Cécile Thibault +33 (0)1 40 76 56 06 email@example.com
RESERVATION +33 (0) 1 40 76 56 10 firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos © Eric Lanuit