When cult filmmaker David Lynch opened a semi-private club for artists and performers in Paris' Grands Boulevards district, naming it Silencio after the eponymous and eerie club in his film Mulholland Drive, it instantly generated much buzz. Would it be as weird and creepy as Lynch's films? Would any mere mortals manage to pass its threshold? About.com Paris Travel Contributor Nicole Smith recently spent an evening at the steeped-in-mystery Silencio to find out what all the fuss was about.
An Actual Social Club in 2012?
When one hears the term "social club" today, it's easy to conjure up the image of a clientele that consists of older men lurking behind corners as young socialites dance to popular DJs in a sweat-filled basement. As I walked down the six expansive staircases to Silencio, Paris' newest and most-talked-about nightlife spot, I admit that I was expecting to find just that. Entering into a dimly-lit alcove with a gold-lacquered ceiling, however, I was pleasantly surprised to see a mixture of both young and elderly artistic types waiting in an orderly fashion to check in their coats. And after uncovering a series of carefully-designed meeting and entertainment spaces, I am thrilled to say that a classic salon of 1920's Paris has successfully been recreated, though with a mid-century modern spin.
Enter David Lynch
Once serving as a resistance publishing house that produced works by the likes of Emile Zola, the building that now holds the club retains the same goal; a meeting place for the creative minds where ideas can be exchanged freely. In order to accomplish this, club owners wanted someone with not only an artistic mindset, but background as well to create a more modernized setting. Enter American director David Lynch, whose film Mulholland Drive
served as the inspiration for Silencio. Lynch personally designed everything from the mirrored-forest smoking room to the shared bathroom sink, with the idea that guests can continue their conversations inside the facility, without interruption.
After checking in our coats, we entered into a crowded bar area where three busy bartenders (who looked like artists themselves) shook elaborate cocktails exclusively created for the club. To the left, a library-styled lounge offers leather booths and stacks of art books. Many of the seats, however, were reserved in advance, reminding the clientele that even though this is a social club where communication is encouraged, a hierarchy still exists. Members are also treated to private concerts that start around 10:30 pm. Tables and chairs with a throwback cabaret feel are set in front of the stage as the band performs. An incredible sound system has been put it in place, allowing each performance (whether rock, classical or jazz) to rival those set in larger venues. Traversing a maze of underground alcoves, visitors uncover a black door that leads to perhaps the most impressive aspect of the space--the movie theatre. Visiting during the run-up to the presidential election in France, the theatre showed a line-up of popular political movies. As "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" played on the large screen, visitors sat on grey leather couches that were dimly lit by the same gold color featured throughout the space. No outside sound could be heard inside the theatre, expect maybe when I exclaimed, "Wow!"
Silencio is a members-only club from 6 pm until midnight, when the general public is allowed in. The cafe tables and chairs in front of the stage are removed before midnight, so that the space can serve as a dance floor once the hour hits. There was definitely a quick exodus of members at this time, as a younger clientele entered ready to dance. Maybe because it was a Wednesday, but after looking forward to dancing all night, I was dismayed to find that only a laptop, already queued up with music, was the only thing that stood behind the DJ booth. The music also consisted of remixed disco songs, something that quickly means its time to go for those of us who like to dance.
NEXT PAGE: Getting in to Silencio and Practical Information