When you’re new to a place, sometimes you need an “in.” A friend or two, a contact who can show you around or give you a place to stay. I went to Paris to teach dance last year, and the West Coast Swing community was my “in.”
Here’s where you can go dancing in Paris:
1. O’Sullivan’s on Tuesdays. Right near the Moulin Rouge, this is in central Paris. On my drive there I passed the Louvre Museum, and I loved getting a first glance at those monuments at nighttime. (It became clear to me that Paris is a city covered in giant paperweights. Even the maps look this way.)
The bar itself has a great layout with multiple rooms, and a sunken dance floor area. The floor is “medium speed,” and the dancers are all cool people. Apparently O’Sullivan’s is also great for live music and salsa dancing as well. I thought it was a super cool vibe.
2. Dance Studios
A) DanCenter (www.dancenter.fr).
Location: Villiers is the nearest metro station in the city, served by train lines 2 and 3. DanCenter is a large studio in the 17th Arrondissement.
This is one of the largest and most established partner dance studios in Paris. There are solid instructors here teaching multiple styles of dance (Salsa, Rock, West Coast Swing, Zumba, Hip Hop, etc.), beautiful spaces with cool lighting fixtures, and the people are very friendly.
The downstairs room, in spite of being a basement space, has been renovated quite nicely (it’s like a dance cave). I love the owner, Gerard, and I’m so grateful to him for letting me teach there.
It’s tucked away in a wide, open alley, and the entry way looks a bit grand because of this. It’s across from a cookie shop and surrounded by lots of food options too (though the area is a bit expensive), in case you’re hungry.
B) Moving de Thiais (www.movingdethiais.com/).
Location: This is quite south of Paris in a suburban area called Thiais. You probably need a car to get there – though I was able to use bus transportation. The studio kinda feels like its in the middle of a highway.
This place has like… 7 rooms? I dunno for sure, but woah, talk about spacious. You won’t be crowded and there will usually be another party (rock aka European’s east coast swing / lindy hop scene, salsa, kizomba, whatever) in an adjacent room that you can peek into or crash if the mood strikes. It’s a big space, there are usually treats and refreshments, and the WCS dance is often DJ’d by Olivier Rio.
C) Swing Machine (www.swingmachine.fr).
Location: This is outside of Paris proper, in a northern suburb. The train station is Gare de Pierrelaye.
This place has high ceilings and a bar for the win. There’s a yummy halal-style restaurant across the street too. This video happened there.
D) La Station Danse. (http://www.lastation-danse.com/)
Location: This is just south of central Paris, in an area called Vitry-sur-Seine. I took a bus there, but the nearby train station is called Gare de Vitry sur Seine, accessed by the RER train.
This is an old “train station” turned into a beautiful, gigantic studio – and it’s like a barn / gymnasium. There is bleacher seating in the main room, a second floor, smaller rooms for classes and socials, a bar/snack area, and even an outdoor patio that looks out over cobblestone streets and a giant mural or two. We just don’t have spaces like this in NY, where space comes at a much higher premium, so I was loving being in this space.
E) Temple du Swing (www.templeduswing.com/).
Location: This is in a northwestern suburb of Paris called La Frette-sur-Seine. The nearest train station is Gare de la Frette Montigny or Gare de Herblay, serviced by the J train line. But even if you take the train, it’s not a short walk – so you’ll probably need buses to get there.
This studio is a recommendation de mes amis français. I didn’t manage to hit this spot during my trip, but I figured I’d include at least one more option on the list. I hear it’s a pretty good studio and place to dance. They have WCS, Lindy Hop, Bebop, Salsa and Zouk there. I know some good dancers who know of the “Swing Temple,” and that’s a good sign.
Okay get to it, people. Go dancing in Paris! “On y va!”