The bawdy adventures of an American (show-boy) in Paris.



From my stool at the bar, I gazed out over the heads of the seated audience to the wooden dance floor across the room.

The atmosphere was festive, yet elegant, looking much like an upper-class Mardi Gras party without the masks and costumes. The guests were animated, their jabber and twaddle rippling up through sounds of the music like day school children at recess. The men were dressed for the opera or an aristocratic gathering at the Bowery. The women were gussied up as if they were anticipating an audience with the Queen.

Miss Bluebell returned and climbed on the stool next to me. As if on cue, the house-lights dimmed and the dancing couples returned to their seats. An expectant hush filled the darkened hall.

Miss Bluebell shook out a cigarette from the pack she retrieved from her purse and placed it between her lips. I grabbed at her golden Dupont to offer her a light.

A loud gasp, random tittering, cries of surprise and delight surged from the center of the room as the rectangular dance floor began to ascend. Miss Bluebell returned my smile remembering the scene from the rehearsals that afternoon. The audience seemed as astonished as I had been. Everyone was swept up in a thrill of expectancy. The magic of the evening had begun even before first note of the overture sounded.

Music swelled from out of nowhere. All heads turned to right-hand corner of the ceiling to an open enclosure where the musicians sat. The dimly lit alcove hung from the rafters like the over-sized gondola from a blimp. For the third time that day I was open mouthed and astounded: a live orchestra was floating high over the spectators, not down in a pit or off to the side like in Vegas. What would they think of next?

Five minutes later, the overture reached its crescendo and slid into silence. Blackout. Two heartbeats later, an electric guitar backed by a simple beat of the drums sliced through the darkness like the cry of a lone fox on a moonless night.

A sudden explosion of light and music; the curtain parted and a flurry of sequins and rhinestones burst out over the audience in a tidal wave of flesh and feathers. The audience went wild.

Goose pimples erupted up over my arms and the back of my neck; my stomach lurched as if the floor had dropped out from under us. I let out an audible gasp. Miss Bluebell patted my knee as if she sensed my wonder. All skepticism, any doubt concerning the decision that had landed me here, disappeared. The magic of the Lido had me fast in its hold, thrilled me far beyond anything I had experienced in Las Vegas or Lake Tahoe. Fate had truly set me down in the land of my dreams.

From the back of the room the girls seemed to be dancing on top of the heads of the audience. Totally unique. In Vegas, the production took place in front of the public, not in its midst. Here, with the major portion of the stage in the middle of the room, the atmosphere became more imposing, more attainable, even overwhelming when the dancers stampeded over the raised stage in a rush of color and sparkle. The audience was close enough to reach out and touch something normally out of bounds.

When the boy dancers made their entrance, Miss Bluebell leaned over to me and began pointing out the parts I would soon be dancing. My excitement waned. As impressive as the initial effect had been, the dance routines were about as exciting as American underwear. I prayed something a little more demanding would present itself further into the show.

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