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Saturday, June 28, 2008 – Dancing in the Streets

No, you didn't miss the annual Gay Pride parade in Paris.  Our Man in Paris, Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, has it covered – with cool photographs.

Dancing in the Streets

Paris Gay Pride Parade 2008 - "Confetti"

Paris, Saturday, June 28 - I missed the Gai Pride last year. I didn't wake up in time. It was cloudy, it was nearly raining, my ears were tired from the year before - I wanted to work on my knitting. For whatever reason, I wasn't there. Nobody noticed. Nobody wrote to ask what I'd done with the annual Gai Pride report. I guess it doesn't have a big fan base.

In fact I don't see what I see in it. It's not much of a parade. There are 25 flat-deck trucks with some minimal decoration, loaded with 250,000 watts of mind-bending disco power, with light loads of fatigueless dancers, mostly white. Most of them look like junior office folks. Why are they doing the jerk on a flat-deck truck in an escargot race through Paris? Why aren't they at the Soldes d'Eté bucking up the economy for our beloved president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the beautiful Carla? Speaking of whom, where was she?

Last night I looked it up on the Web, to make sure the start was at 14:00 at Montparnasse. It was some sort of Website listing all of these parades around the world. That's our Web - the WorldWideWeb and that's what it's for. It told me the time and place.

The problem was that the place was wrong. The city in its finite wisdom decided to tear up the Boulevard Montparnasse. Maybe they are going to fix it. Maybe they are going to make it into a boulevard again. Take out the bus lanes in the middle so folks can cross it once instead of three times to get across without getting killed by a bus or taxi coming the wrong way. When I didn't hear anything like a Gai Pride parade tuning up, I went up to Vavin. A flic there told me the parade was starting at Denfert-Rochereau.

Paris Gay Pride Parade 2008 - Lion at Denfert

If this keeps up it's going to put Denfert on the map. Ricard had their big stage there for the Fête de la Musique, and it's regularly the launching pad for mass demos. This draws altogether too many folks. Who knows? They may get overtired and decide to stay - it's so handy for these things. They might spoil the neighborhood. Ordinary jerks are all we need.

We had a threatening sky today. The kind of thing that when you see it on the TV-news, you cancel the picnic. But mostly it's all bluff. The dark clouds are toothless. They bump together and it bounces them apart and then the sun shines through. Being the time of year it is, this year, when the clouds part the sun is hot. Maybe a little humid too. It goes good with the general feeling that Paris is out to outdo Brazil. You like dancing in the street? So do we!

My main beef is with the people here. Fine and good that so many folks are experienced with marching in mass through Paris making a lot of noise and carrying signs denouncing the government. Mostly though, all they do is wear a union button. Good enough for the CGT, the FO or the CFDT, but not good enough for Gai Pride.

Say Gai Pride. Two words, gai and pride. That says to me they should be gay and they should do it with pride! Forget for a moment that that isn't the name. I dunno what the name is. At one time, maybe eight years ago, the name was five or six words, like the name of some gang of legal dudes. Nobody could remember it. Forget the name! Just remember to be gay and do it with pride.

So where were the costumes? We saw the gay police pass today. We saw the gay municipal workers, the gay Air France crews, gay soccer players, gay hospital staffs, and what looked like the gay working girls from Pigalle. There was even a tanker full of gay water from the gay waterworks. There were a few marchers of uncertain gender wearing feathers. Some other wore torn fishnets. All of it added together, it was pretty darn thin. Haven't they heard that the carnival people in Rio take months to make their costumes? Where is their pride?

Paris Gay Pride Parade 2008 - "Gay Cops"
Paris Gay Pride Parade 2008 - "… and what looked like the gay working girls from Pigalle"

My biggest gripe is the audio. Nobody can call it music. You'd think with that 250,000 watts they would add some imagination to it. Okay, okay, I know it's supposed to be dance music. If you are going to escargot race through Paris, from Montparnasse to Bastille, you need something to turn the toes into tappers. For me, head-banging disco don't do it. Say what you want - it is flipping disco! Obviously zero of these Gai Pride fans worked in a steel foundry. They don't know what they are missing.

In Rio they have that carnival music and they play it all the time for two weeks straight night and day, and practice it all year around. You can't stand still while that's going on. And here, it isn't just the 25 trucks that go to Bastille while the locals stand around gawking. Oh no, part of the fun is that everybody goes along. Maybe a quarter million hook up and hang in there the whole way. Yet nobody ever complains about the dum-dum music.

Paris Gay Pride Parade 2008 - not Rio

Well, most of them looked like kids, don't know any better. The iPod generation. Listens to denatured music non-stop. What a waste! You know, here is this parade, a sort of educational - or propaganda, depending on where you are coming from - er, effort. Anti-discrimination, tolerance, love one another, etc., etc. Does the music feel like that? Steel factory. That is a harsh sound. Nothing to do with peace and love. C'mon somebody - the world's full of good music.

Now I've had my annual rant. I've had it pent up inside me for two years because I skipped an edition. I guess I shouldn't have done that. Made me get a new amp and some high-pump speakers. Oh hell, I'll just listen to it. Hey everybody, the music for Gai Pride is at my place. Drop in with your favorite CD. Wear a silly costume. When we wear our ears out we can go across the street and listen to them dancing on the tombs.

Paris Gay Pride Parade 2008 - Thai Costumes

Text and Photos Copyright © 2008 - Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis

[Dancing in the Streets]

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 - Alan M. Pavlik