Mindy Chen (Ashley Park) is the best friend of Emily Cooper (Lilly Collins), a Paris-based Chinese emigrant who turns out to be not only a girl from a millionaire background – but financially cut off from her family – but also a talented singer who aspires to achieve his second chance in Paris, after failing on The Voice China. Her biggest break comes in season 3 when she performs on stage at La Nouvelle Ève, a cabaret where none other than Edith Piaf used to perform. She has an anxiety attack because of it. The best part is that if Mindy is a fictional character, neither the location nor Piaf’s story is a lie, and fans are more curious to find out more.
To begin with, the French culture of the 19th century, the Belle Epoque, immortalized the nightclubs known as Cabarets, both in music, paintings, photos, books, films, and poems. The word cabaret may have originated in Spanish (fun house), but was incorporated by the French to refer to taverns, restaurants or salons, and commercial houses that served alcohol. Only after 1881, with the opening of Le Chat Noir, in Montmartre, did cabarets gain a new dimension.
Le Chat Noir, immortalized by the features of Toulouse Lautrec, became known for its informality and clientele of artists and common people, and also for being a noisy and “happy” place. In addition to food and drink, it offered music and dance shows. Launched fashion. Even today in Paris there are more than 10 active cabarets, the most famous being Crazy Horse, Moulin Rouge, Lido, Folies Bergère, and Paradis Latin. Thanks to Emily in Paris, the small La Nouvele Ève, with a capacity for 250 people, is more popular.
Like Sex and The City before Emily in Paris, part of the show’s appeal is that the locations and places frequented by the characters exist, creating a curious cultural agenda. And glamorous, of course.
In the case of La Nouvele Eve, the small salon was inaugurated on December 24, 1897 (that’s right, 125 years ago!) under the name of Champ-de-Foire. It was part of the movement known as the boulevard du crime or “the avenue of crime” for bringing together theaters and concert halls. The Nouvele Eve was also called the Sans-Gêne theater, then the Comédie-Parisienne, until it reopened in 1903 under the name of Fantaisies-Parisiennes, gaining notoriety in Paris. The program included dance, operettas, and erotic shows. The decoration followed the tradition of cabarets: a dark environment, with dim light and an intimate environment that nurtured the mystery.
The sequence of new names followed at the address. After Fantaisies-Parisiennes, in 1911 it moved to Nouveau-Théâtre as well as later to Nouvelle-Comédie. Becoming a favorite stage for singers, it became Theatre Balzac before moving to Théâtre Fontaine in 1923 and continued to change until 1930, when it underwent a renovation and was quickly renamed Théâtre Varia to compete with the neighboring Moulin Rouge. With the failure, it returned to “Fontaine” in 1931 and rescued the traditional theater until two years later, Paula Maxa, former muse of the Grand-Guignol, tried in vain to impose a Theater of Vice and Virtue (théâtre du Vice et de la Vertu), replaced a month later by the Theater of the Sex Appeal, then the Balieff Theater and the Deux-Masques, changing the programming to the old thriller plays. Despite its success, the theater closed on August 1, 1938, reopening briefly during the German occupation in World War II as the Folies-Montmartre. Isn’t it to get dizzy?
Then, with the end of the War, the place became the property of René Bardy, owner of another cabaret called Ève place Pigalle, who renamed the establishment as La Nouvelle Ève. It was Bardy who redecorated the environment in Belle Époque style, with tables that accommodate 250 guests and leaving the fixed program with dinner shows. Since then, with a more intimate atmosphere than its competitors, it has become one of the most popular cabaret theaters in Paris, with exciting, contemporary, and yes, occasionally erotic performances. A favorite of fashionistas such as Jean-Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood, La Nouvele Ève is a popular party spot in the French capital. Hence its relevance in the universe of Emily Cooper from Emily in Paris. And now, crucial to Mindy Chen’s career.