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A Pre-War Paris Lesbian Nightclub

Exterior entrance to the former Le Monocle nightclub. Photo by anonymous (date unknown).
Exterior entrance to the former Le Monocle nightclub. Photo by anonymous (date unknown).

For those of you familiar with Paris, you know that the Left Bank is considered more cutting edge today than the Right Bank. If you lived in Paris during the 1920s and the 1930s, the avant-garde scene would have been on the Right Bank. In particular, the Montmartre and the Pigalle districts (18e) were heavily populated with artists, bohemians, and a strong gay community. However, the Left Bank was home to the first and most popular lesbian nightclub in Paris. Located at 60, Boulevard Edgar Quinet in the Montparnasse (14e) district, Le Monocle opened its doors in the 1920s. Our story today isn’t so much about the nightclub as it is one of its most infamous patrons.


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Lulu and Tuxedos

Young invert at Le Monocle, 1932 (it is believed to be a photo of Lulu). Photo by George Brassaï (c. 1932).
Young invert at Le Monocle, 1932 (it is believed to be a photo of Lulu). Photo by George Brassaï (c. 1932).

The first owner of Le Monocle was Lulu. She set the style of dress for the club over the next twenty years. Lulu’s club attracted women who liked to dress up in tuxedos (and men’s suits), cut their hair short, and for added effect, wear monocles (ergo, the name of the club). In fact, women would wear a monocle in public to announce their sexual orientation.

The nightclub was shut down in 1940 after the Germans invaded France. Gay men and women were targeted by the Nazis for detention, deportation, and ultimately, elimination. The building where the club was located is still in existence. You enter through the original entrance which is shaped in a circle–it was meant to imitate a monocle. I’m not too sure what is behind the doors, as the exterior needs a lot of paint. But the awning still advertises a bar and café. I think it’s still called Le Monocle but Sandy and I will stop by on our next trip to Paris and see what happens. Read More A Pre-War Paris Lesbian Nightclub

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The White Mouse

While it’s not hard researching the Nazi occupation of Paris, sometimes it can be difficult reading about it. There are so many stories of the Nazis’ brutality, viciousness, and policies that you sit back and wonder how human beings could turn into such monsters (and for many, taking pride and pleasure in their actions). Yet just when you don’t want to continue that line of research, you run across stories of people who, despite knowing death awaited them if caught, acted with kindness, bravery, and unselfishness.

This is one of those stories.

 

Nancy Wake wearing British Army uniform. Photo by anonymous (c. 1945). Australian War Memorial. PD-Copyright Expiration. Wikimedia Commons.
Nancy Wake wearing British Army uniform. Photo by anonymous (c. 1945). Australian War Memorial. PD-Copyright Expiration. Wikimedia Commons.

Nancy Wake (1912–2011) was one of the most remarkable women during World War II. The French Resistance primarily used women as couriers or perhaps radio operators but not Nancy Wake. She wanted and demanded a role beyond those duties. Nancy would eventually become the leader of more than 7,000 maquisards (Le Maquis) and that was during her second phase of resistance activities (more on that later). Her reputation was built during the early years of the occupation based on her exploits, which earned her a Gestapo code name and a sizeable bounty on her head.

Watch her story here.

The White Mouse

Nancy and Henri Fiocci. Photo by anonymous (c. late 1930s). Source unknown. Wikimedia.
Nancy and Henri Fiocci. Photo by anonymous (c. late 1930s). Source unknown. Wikimedia.

Nancy began her resistance activities almost immediately after the Germans began their occupation of France. She had moved to Paris from New Zealand (via New York and London) during the 1930s. By 1937, she had met and would eventually marry Henri Fiocca (1893–1943), a wealthy French industrialist living in Marseille, France. Read More The White Mouse