Famed Paris cabaret set for final curtain amid mass lay-offs

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High-kicking showgirls and nightly cabaret shows at the famed Parisian Lido club on the Champs-Elysees are set to be a thing of the past after the venue’s new owner confirmed mass lay-offs on Thursday.

Created in the aftermath of World War II, the Lido has drawn fans for more than seven decades with its racy dance routines featuring towering women in feathers, high heels and little else.

But though it has sought to modernize its shows and adapt to the times, the venue has been losing money for years and changed hands at the end of 2021.

The new owner, French hotels giant Accor, told staff on Thursday it would lay off 157 of 184 employees, including its “Bluebell girls” troupe of dancers, according to several sources who spoke to AFP.

“The Lido is finished,” one trade union representative said on condition of anonymity, adding Accor intended to turn the prime real estate into a venue for other musical events.

“All the artistic staff, meaning around 60 people, will disappear,” the source added.

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Cabaret dancing first appeared during France’s “Belle Epoque” at the end of the 19th century, when the French capital was a hotbed of artistic creation.

The Moulin Rouge remains the best-known show in the city and is still going strong, thanks largely to the publicity from the 2001 film of the same name by Baz Luhrmann.

Prices for a night at the Lido start at 145 euros per person ($ 150), with the club capable of welcoming 2,000 people per evening over two sittings.

Usually open every day of the year, it was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic as tourism and international travel ground to a halt, keeping its mostly foreign clientele away.

Changes to animal welfare laws also meant it could no longer feature exotic animals, while changing attitudes towards women and nudity have also led its dancing and decor to be seen as increasingly outdated.