Dive Bars and Classy Cocktails

Last Friday I went to a little dive bar around the corner from my apartment to see a new friend play some good old American covers.

Bar 96 is one of those nondescript hole-in-the-walls.

Perry Leopard and his Caballeros Simpaticos humbly set up in the back. After a few tunes, a woman joined to sing a few songs. That’s when I did a real double-take.

Turns out Lucy Dixon has her own jazz album and was a long-running member of STOMP. You know, one of those multi-talented dancer/singers. Check out her Myspace page for some much better sounds than I could capture on my pocket camera.

Her voice was amazing. I loved the surprise of being in this low-key neighborhood bar and then, bam! Talent!

The bar at le 29

A few days later I found myself in a very different environment. Le 29 looks nondescript from the outside, too, but once buzzed in, you find yourself in a plush lounge of red armchairs (and red walls!) and a bar with no menu; all drinks tailor-made.

Cocktail maven 52 Martinis had a meet-up and I’m so glad she introduced me to this place. Usually I avoid the 16th arrondissement like the plague, but this secret little nook made me reconsider.

Previously le 29 was the site of a strip club. The owners have managed to make the new lounge feel elegant, cozy, and retain a bit of its seedier side, too. A pole in the corner saw a few patrons trying out…well, other forms of talent.

Me and Jennyphoria at le 29, photo by Forest Collins, aka 52 Martinis

Check out 52 Martinis’ great write-up of the bar and then her photo album of the night. You’ll notice I’m trying to bring color back to Paris with my bright green dress and electric blue tights.

So there you have it. Slowly geting out on the scene again and I do love extremes. From nothing dive bars to exclusive cocktail lounges, this city really does have it all.

How about you? Prefer dive bars or classy lounges? Or like me and pretty much go wherever good company can be found?

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12 Responses to “Dive Bars and Classy Cocktails”


  1. 1 melissa October 28, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Love the green dress! You look fabulous! Wish I could have made it out the night. Was on my way there when I got a message about a family emergency so I turned around to head home to make phone calls.
    But I def want to try out the 29!
    xoxox

  2. 3 forest (@52martinis) October 28, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    thanks for the shout out! :) lovely to see you there.

  3. 5 Carina October 28, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    I’d wondered about the poles in the corner thinking they must be there for when the party turns ‘private’. :)

  4. 7 Mary Lonergan October 28, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Love this Sion!! I am looking for some local spots when I come to Paris next month so this is perfect timing! And I agree – always wonderful to not be expecting too much and then to be blown away by someone’s talent – fantastic!

    • 8 paris (im)perfect October 28, 2011 at 6:56 pm

      Great, Mary! I would definitely recommend le 29. I wouldn’t necessarily make a trip to Bar 96, though. I had fun because it was right around the corner from me and friends were playing, but it’s not normally a place that I’d go out of my way to spend time at :)

  5. 9 Aurelia October 28, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    I experienced heart-stopping sticker shock while having drinks with out-of-town friends at trendy elixir bar Curio Parlor. I don’t know: in a city where a perfectly palatable glass of Bordeaux or Cotes du Rhone can be procured for €3, it pains me to pay €15 (or more!) for a tipple that my underdeveloped palate doesn’t fully appreciate.

    Give me a dive-y local cafe, a cheap pichet de vin rouge, and the company of a good friend and I’m swooning with the same pleasure that a pricey martini might offer some at a more chi-chi drinking establishment. And bring on the peanuts! (Or olives, or potato chips.)

    • 10 paris (im)perfect October 28, 2011 at 7:14 pm

      Oh, Aurelia, you’re a girl after my own heart. Don’t get me wrong and I should have mentioned: I had won a cocktail for FREE. Usually they go for 14 euros. Yeah, 14 euros is too much for me to pay for DINNER :)

      But it was a really nice break from routine.

      I’m much more likely to be found in the dives for sure.

  6. 11 Paris Karin (an alien parisienne) October 31, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Ditto to Aurelia’s comment! :) (Which is pretty much why she and I are simpatico, and from your response to her, too, another reason I appreciate you so! ;-))

    I don’t mind seeing something new and interesting, upscale or down, but to me, going to a place is merely the setting for sharing company with others. My criteria is often “Can I afford it?” and “Is it a nice place to talk to my friends and know them better?” That’s pretty much it. I’m discriminating (in the good way, lol) about my friends, but not so much about the places we meet.

    It looks like a fun time, though! Thank you for sharing Forest’s links and photos. I appreciate it!


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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