Monday 2 July 2012

Zelli's Club, Paris

Louise Brooks at Zelli's 
Zelli's Club was the most famous of the nightclubs in Paris owned by Joe Zelli (On right in above photograph).

He opened this club in 1922 and it closed 10 years later. It was considered to be less classy than Le Grand Duc and was regularly raided by the police. Nevertheless, it was always crowded and a membership card was needed to enter an underground dance hall. 

This club was located at 16 bis rue Fontaine which had previously been La Feria cafe. This was a large rectangular underground dance hall on two floors in an almost Moorish style. The main floor area had a bandstand, stage, dance floor, ornate pillars and was littered with tables. At one end was an arched alcove with mirrored walls. The entrance made way onto a balcony overlooking the main floor with a modern American-style bar. Here, were what Zelli called ‘royal boxes’, set out along the balcony. Patrons could look down upon the festivities taking place on the floor below as well as talk to other parties on telephones in each box. One day a little Italian caricaturist arrived called Zito and over four years he drew all the famous guests and visitors to Zelli’s and these sketches filled the walls downstairs. Read more on Jazz Age Club

Lowry refers to the night club in his film script for Fitzgerald's novel Tender Is The Night; "Now we are in the Rue Blanche and we pass Zelli's" (The Cinema of Malcolm Lowry: a scholarly edition of Lowry's "Tender is the Night" Edited by Miguel Mota and Paul Tiessen Pg. 78).

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