The Frolics in Paris

An interesting venue that glittered brilliantly for a few years in the early 1920s and then promptly disappeared was regarded at the time as the rendezvous of smart international society in Paris.

The Frolics - a rendezvous of smart international society in Paris in the early 1920s

The Frolics – a rendezvous of smart international society in Paris in the early 1920s

The Frolics opened at 30 Rue de Gramont at the corner of the grand Boulevard des Italiens (not far from the Folies Bergere) in early May 1920. It was one of the many new nightspots or ‘dancings’, as they were called in Paris, that sprung up just after the end of the First World War. It was open all night from 8.30pm until closing and provided dinners, suppers, drinks and dancing. Importantly, Le Cercle Hippique and Sportif transferred its gambling and reading rooms to this new location.

The magnificent new establishment was owned by the Ciro’s chain, operated by an English Syndicate headed by Lord Poulett and Clement Hobson. It was a large, expansive room built with a marble interior and imposing galleries and boxes and with its American bar was fairly targeted at an international clientele namely the Americans and the British.

By the spring of 1921, the Red Devils Jazz Band were playing and dancing turns provided an entertainment. One of the acts was an unspecified American girl who gave a vigorous solo of the high kick variety. In May 1921 the American dancing couple Cynthia Perot and Elliott Taylor performed having previously been in London at the Embassy Club and appearing in A Little Dutch Girl at the Lyric Theatre in London.

The Frolic opened for two seasons : Spring and Winter. During the summer months the Frolics closed, re-opening in September for the Autumn – Winter season.

Presumably, the venue faltered in 1922, since in May 1923 it was announced that it was to re-open under new management as a Soupper-dansant de luxe venue. The attraction was a proper cabaret called the American Midnight Frolics produced by Dion Titheradge (a British stage producer) starring Joyce Barbour, Max Rivers, Winifred Roma, Tex McLeod, Dodka Guilevitch, Stella Mudge, Henry Adams and a West End chorus of numerous beautiful showgirls. The show was launched on Tuesday 15th May 1923 and staged each night from 12.30-1am & 1.30-2am.

Tex McLeod was an American performer from Texas who had scored a big success in London. Tall, dashing and robust Tex McLeod did rope tricks and told stories and was a close imitation of the famous comic Will Rogers.He was taking a vacation in Paris but got snapped by Paul Murray (responsible for other cabaret shows in London), who staged the show for a six week run.

Dancing Times said it was the most chic location in Paris and added that the ensemble gave a real American atmosphere of intimacy so necessary to the proper expression of the artists’ talents.

After the obligatory summer closure the Frolics re-opened with tea and supper dances for the autumn – winter of 1923 but then presumably ceased operations as a swank night spot.

All images and text © copyright Gary Chapman / Jazz Age Club and must not be re-used without prior consent

Sources:

Chicago Tribune, Dancing Times, the Era and Paris Theatre programmes

A website dedicated to Tex McLeod

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