The Plan-in-Progress

Return To Magic City: Project Updates

The Plan-in-Progress


Individuals will be asked to self-identify and as a means of expressing pride in those characteristics, each person will receive phosphorescent ornaments that will help them identify affinity groups. The groups will be critical to the structure of the Bal des Invertis (‘The Ball”) and its re-presentation as “The Whirl.”


This Dancerie: The Ball (Production) July 15 to Aug 1


  • Each of these groups (“cores”) will work with a choreographer in a single day of rehearsal. Each core will consist of 24 individuals who will learn a set movements and structures that will organize the evening’s performance.  Each of these cores will have the option of bringing in additional members from their home communities (constituting their “globe”) and may carry out one additional offsite rehearsal.
  • During this period, an environment will be created for the Ball that defines the dance space with a canopy of LED stars based upon stars in the ceiling of the original Magic City ballroom.
  • A final dress rehearsal will occur from 5:00 to 8:30 with a final performance/ball from 10:00 to 11:30.  The final ball will be videotaped from above the “dance floor” by stationary, suspended cameras and by camera’s mounted on drone.

This Dancerie: The Whirl (Projection/Re-Presentaion Phase) October presentation in the context of La Nuite Blanche.

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The Whirl will be the public installation of the edited video production that results from the bar 2

  • The video work will be projected onto the surface of the Quai d’Orsay and presented to audiences that will be seated in bleachers that raise the viewers above ground level, surrounding the projection surface. 
  • Two representative performers chosen by the core communities will perform on the “stage” of the projected image.
  • In addition to the projection, four DJ’s will execute a score they have developed in collaboration.
  • The total running time of the presentation will be 50 minutes (allowing for future television broadcast)
  • This project will be presented four times between sunset and bar 1

History of Magic City

Magic City: My Parisian Neighbourhood a Century Ago

BY Matthew Fraser / SUNDAY, 10 MARCH 2013 / PUBLISHED IN UNCATEGORIZEDblack bar 2

My Parisian friends frequently tell me that my neighbourhood in the stuffy 7th arrondissement is, well, bar 2

It’s an observation that, at first blush, is difficult to dispute. I once read the 7th arrondissement described as “Poodleland” – a bourgeois enclave where rich ladies walk their little dogs along wide prosperous avenues. True, Poodleland is quiet, self-assured, and inward looking. Old aristocratic habits – and bylaws — keep trade to a strict minimum. There are no cinemas, no retail chains, no food concourses, no McDonald’s, no public swimming pools, and no sports gyms. When a Starbucks showed up in the rue Saint-Dominique some time ago, there was a mild flutter of incomprehension throughout the bar 2

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Poodleland was once the centre of bohemian nightlife in Paris. It even had a name: Magic bar 2

Magic City was an American-style amusement park built in 1900 as part of the Exposition Universelle that year. While the Paris world fair stretched all the way from the Eiffel Tower to the Invalides, Magic City was a “parc d’attraction” constructed at the base of the Alma bridge crossing the Seine. That bridge is today known mainly for its tragic connection with Princess Diana’s death. A century ago, it was famous for Magic City, which local historians tell us stretched from 67 to 91 Quai d’Orsay along the Seine. I live on Quai d’Orsay and my building is within that range of addresses. Magic City was just outside my front bar 2

Built by Ernest Cognacq, the rich owner of the Samarataine department store, Magic City featured all the usual theme park attractions — everything from roller coasters and water slides to more novel curiosities in 1900 such as moving sidewalks and a mini railway. Another attraction was more morally questionable but typical of the era circa 1900: a sort of human zoo showing African natives – called “headhunters” – who were put on display like caged animals for the curiosity of bourgeois bar 2

Fortunately we have photos of most of these attractions thanks to the Belle Epoque postcards of Magic City that survive (seehere for postcard images, also here for a photo diaporama). The unique feature of amusement parks during that period is that they were mainly for adults. The “family” amusement park for children would come bar 2

The most popular attraction was the Magic City ballroom where Parisians came to dance to orchestra music. By the “Années Folles” in the 1920s, the Magic City ballroom had become popular with the Parisian gay scene. Particularly notorious were the Magic City “drag balls” held on Mardi Gras. The photographer Brassai took many photographs of these transvestite soirées, called “Bals des Invertis” (see photo below and other photos here).black bar 2

Today Magic City, shut down by French authorities in 1934, has largely passed into oblivion. My neighbours in Poodleland have never heard of it, even though they live right on the Magic City location. Most of the area was razed and rebuilt, which explains why so many buildings in my neighbourhood — including mine — are Art Deco style constructed in the bar 2

Magic City had a curious epilogue however. When the Germans occupied Paris during the Second World War they requisitioned the old Magic City ballroom. After the war France’s state-owned television network – the equivalent of the BBC – moved into the same building and used the old ballroom stage as a TV studio. For decades, the French public television network was operating out of the old Magic City dance hall that had been a gay nightclub during the Roaring bar 2

Today France’s public TV networks have moved elsewhere, but the old Magic City studios are still standing, home to a few small TV channels on the digital service. Fittingly, the address is rue Cognacq-Jay, named after the same rich Parisian who built Magic City in bar 2

I walk Oscar up and down rue Cognacq-Jay every day. It’s just around the corner – the last vestige of the extravagant Magic City amusement park that today is mostly bar 135 Gay dancing, Paris, 1930s

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In wikipedia Magic City is described as follows:black bar 2

Magic-City was an amusement park near Pont de l’Alma, two blocks east of the Eiffel Tower, in Paris, France from 1900 to 1934.[1][2][3]black bar 2

A large dance hall at 188 rue de l’Université in Paris took place in Magic-City. That was known for its “drag balls.”black bar 2

The emblematic event of homosexual life in Paris in the inter-war years was a series of masked balls held annually during Carnival on Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday) and Mi-Carême (Mid-Lent) at Magic-City Dancing, an immense dance-hall on the Rue de l’Universite, near the Eiffel Tower. … Between 1922 and 1939, thousands of men, most costumed and many in extravagant female drag, attended the balls at Magic-City every year. ‘On this night,’ wrote a journalist in 1931, ‘all of Sodom’s grandsons scattered throughout the world…seem to have rebuilt their accursed city for an evening. The presence of so many of their kind makes them forget their abnormality.’ Gyula Brassaï, whose photographs have immortalized these fabulous balls, described the ‘immense, warm, impulsive fraternity’ at Magic-City: The cream of Parisian inverts was to meet there, without distinction as to class, race or age. And every type came, faggots, cruisers, chickens, old queens, famous antique dealers and young butcher boys, hairdressers and elevator boys, well-known dress designers and drag queens…[4]black bar 2

It was closed by the authorities on February 6, 1934,[5] and in 1942 the building was bought by the government and turned over to Paris-Télévision, which began broadcasting from there in 1943.[6]black bar 2


  1. Jump up^ Magic City – Paris 7e Constructions détruites
  2. Jump up^ Magic-City
  3. Jump up^ L’encyclopédie du Tango – Magic City
  4. Jump up^ Higgs, David, Queer Sites: Gay Urban Histories Since 1600, Routledge, 1999, p. 27.
  5. Jump up^ Tamagne, Florence, A history of homosexuality in Europe, Algora Publishing, 2004, p. 51.
  6. Jump up^, “Quelques dates,” bar 1

Food for Thought : Various queer dance scenes around Parisblack bar 1

Gay belly dancing at Gay Pride Parade in Parisblack bar 2
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First hetero-friendly queer tango festival in Paris (2015)
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Dancing in Heels
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Food for Thought: Lasseindra Ninja’s Voguing scene.
Space Bar 2
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IMG_8609 IMG_8617 IMG_8658 IMG_8688 IMG_8735 IMG_8767 IMG_8831 IMG_8853 IMG_8913 IMG_8955 IMG_8956 IMG_8966 IMG_8989 IMG_9003 IMG_9036 IMG_9045 IMG_9073 Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.55.18 AM
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In August, Alex Bado, Thierry Micouin and Tony Whitfield surveyed the vicinity where Magic City amusement park and ballroom was situated on the Quai D’Orsay.  Of particular interest was the ongoing occurrence of Drag Balls in the Ballroom and the possibility of creating a contemporary drag ball on the current site that was geared to attract a multi cultural queer community, manifesting a range of current drag traditions. The concept that has evolved is a film of the ball shot from above during the summer before the presentation of This Dancerie.  That film would be projected onto the paved surface of the current site on the Quai D’Orsay at night.
A bit of background on the site.
     1900-1934. Paris. Theme park and huge ballroom. The park is located between numbers 67 and 91 on the Quai d’Orsay, opposite the Pont de l’Alma. The ballroom on the first floor of 188 University Street.
All is founded in 1900 by Ernest Cognac, the owner of the department store La Samaritaine.
place is closed by the decision of the authorities on February 6 1934 Up in 1942, the hall continues to be used for gatherings.
Ballroom 1910
    Mr. Basile Pachkof, which conducts research on the history of the Mi-Carême, brought an interesting piece of information. Indeed, it cites the newspaper Le Matin , 20 February 1937, page 2, 5th column, and notes that the Magic City Hall was still working in 1937, after the administrative decision to close in 1934.

One might think that the closure of the ballroom has been linked to major disturbances generated by the Mi-Carême balls, collecting gay transvestites, and unleashed a whole population that was loudly partying in the streets avoisinnantes.
Yet in 1910, the police headquarters in Paris had issued an order prohibiting dancing between men. And in 1934, the Prefect of Police Jean Chiappe implemented this order and has closed all concerned, including the ballroom of Magic City.
prom This prohibition would therefore not affected other types of gatherings including the one mentioned by Mr. Pachkoff.
Moreover, the address given by the article does not exactly match that known. Error journalist or other input to the ballroom?

     In 1942 the park was destroyed. And the ballroom was bought by the government attributes it to Paris-TV. The German Kurt Hinzman installed a television studio, directly connected to the emitter of the Eiffel Tower. The studio was opened September 30, 1943 and issue until 12 August 1944 emissions are primarily for German soldiers hospitalized or convalescing.
   The ballroom was famous for its fancy dress balls and gay Lent.
    The ballroom had a permanent orchestra, called Dance Orchestra Magic City . He recorded under the direction of conductor M.Brun a disc with two titles tango composer Saint-Servan.
22cm. Sapphire. Label Opera No. 7021 Two tangos ” Enamorada “, 0141. matrix” La Chiquita Linda “0142 matrix.
Accurate label: ” Starting at the edge , “which allows us to suppose that the disk is prior to 1914.
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Recent shots of the original site of Magic City
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 Entry in 1943
 The hall in 1943 before restoration.
 The hall in 1943, after its transformation into TV studio
Others viewed photos on
Magic City – Paris 7th
Theme Park Magic City was built by Ernest Cognac, owner of the Samaritan woman , in 1900 between numbers 67 and 91du Quai d’Orsay and University Street opposite the Pont de l’Alma .
Magic City was the first amusement park of Paris, before Luna Park at Porte Maillot (1909), it included fairground attractions, sights, shows, performances of “natives” and a large dance floor with orchestra.
Closed in 1934, then commandeered by the Germans during the occupation, the ballroom is transformed into a television studio that will become the Fernsehsender Paris after the war studios Cognac-Jay.
Entrance   Scenic railway
  creation see a larger picture Bridge madness
waterfall the great hall
Magic bench Waterfall dance headhunters

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  – . A slide show presents some amusement park.

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