History of the Lido

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Discover the history of the Lido de Paris cabaret, one of the institutions of Parisian nightlife for many decades.

The origins of the Lido: at the time of "the beach of Paris"

Did you know? Originally located at 78 avenue des Champs Elysées in Paris, the Lido offered swimming facilities to bathers during the period between the two World Wars. It owes its name to the famous Italian beach near Venice. The Lido opted for a very Venetian decor and chose a name reminiscent of this sun-drenched faraway place which was a favorite getaway for Parisians.

The establishment, which at the time was called "The beach of Paris", attracted a wealthy clientele but encountered serious financial problems. The Lido shut down in 1933 but was rebought by Léon Volterra, a well-known producer of shows and a theater director. The pool was replaced by a large cabaret room which rapidly became the favorite spot for the Paris elite.

The history of a prestigious Parisian cabaret

Together with the Moulin Rouge, the cabaret became a symbol of the crazy and wild Parisian nightlife: the history of the Lido cannot be separated from that of entertainment in the capital, and many French and or international celebrities came to see what it had to offer.

At the end of the 2nd World War, in 1946,  building contractors Joseph and Louis Clerico rebought the Lido and a new era began in the history of the cabaret.  They totally redeveloped the venue and offered a new show, "Sans rimes ni raison" ("Without Rhyme or Reason").  Gifted with a keen business sense, they came up with the idea of a dinner show which made them a success and would rapidly be copied in cabarets around the world.

1977: Le Lido moves and expands 

If there is an important date in the history of the Lido, it has to be 1977.  Jean Robert Boudre, the new director, decided to enlarge the cabaret and opted for new premises, adding  6000 square meters of space to the Lido.  A panoramic room was built which could accommodate 1,150 people, and an elevator system was installed which allowed 300 guests to sink into the floor during the show to further improve visibility.  It was the golden age of the history of the Lido and many international celebrities performed there such as Laurel and Hardy and the Kessler sisters, and in later years, stars like Shirley MacLaine and Elton John appeared there.

The History of the Lido: Bluebell Girls Revues

But what would a cabaret be without its famous dancers? Founded in 1932 by the renowned dancer, Margaret Kelly, the Bluebell Girls troupe joined the Lido in 1948. These classically-trained dancers, who were too tall for a ballet troupe, seduced spectators with their talent and captivated them with their beauty. Since 1946, some 10,000 dancers have performed on the cabaret stage, elevating the choreography, sets and costumes to the level of the sublime.

The Paris Merveilles Revue, which has been performed since 2015, is the 27th in the history of the Lido. Revues can run from several years up to more than a decade.

Here is a list of all the revues in the history of the Lido since 1946, from the most recent to the earliest:

  • Bonheur (2003)
  • C'est Magique (1994)
  • Bravissimo (1990)
  • Panache (1985)
  • Cocorico (1981)
  • Allez Lido (1977)
  • Grand jeu (1973)
  • Bonjour la nuit (1971)
  • Grand Prix (1969)
  • Pourquoi pas ? (1966)
  • Suivez-moi (1962)
  • Pour vous (1961)
  • Avec Plaisir (1961)
  • Prestige (1957)
  • C'est magnifique (1956)
  • Voulez-vous (1955)
  • Désirs (1954)
  • Voilà (1953)
  • Rendez-vous (1951)
  • Enchantement (1950)
  • Bravo (1949)
  • Confetti (1948)
  • Mississipi (1946)
  • Sans rîmes ni raisons (1946)