Sunday, July 15, 2012

5 Reasons Parisians Hate Fete de la Musique

Now that the festival is well behind us, and I'm not at risk of having any more bottles thrown at my taxi (true story), I feel I can safely share my top 5 reasons why many Parisians really, truly, HATE the Fête de la Musique (aka: City-wide music festival that happens all over the world).

In case you're not familiar with it, here's the official definition from wikipedia: "Amateur and professional musicians are encouraged to perform in the streets."

Here's the real definition according to JNSQ: "People who *think* they are really good at making music trickle into the streets blasting their creations as loud as possible with no regard for the neighbors, or even the spectators, whatsoever."

Before I begin, I have to explain that being outside the city changes your perspective drastically. As a suburbanite, the first time I heard about the idea of music filtering out from every street corner it seemed like genius! See, that's the thing. The first ten min of the first time you go to the big city for this event, there is some blind attraction. Much like the first time you see someone's profile on an online dating site. You notice they are *really* into *a lot* of things, and think "ooh, they sound like fun! I'll have a lot of interesting experiences with this person." 

But soon enough, you realize that this person, who seems so interesting on the surface, is in fact, a schizo-manic-obsessive-narcissist and you should really RUN in the other direction like your ass is leaking tequila and a rogue, possessed, blowtorch just spotted you across the room.

Now, a disclaimer: I'm sure there are plenty of fine acts, loads of talented people, and many who enjoy their shows. I have not yet had the pleasure (at all), but that doesn't mean I'm right (in fact, I'm usually wrong). Invite you to share your stories, good or bad, in comments below.

Here are the real reasons why June 21st in Paris feels like the longest day of the year, and it has nothing to do with the summer solstice...

#1: There *can be* too much of a good thing, God Damn it.

Oh the creativity! The variety! The fucking humanity!! I dont' care how much of a fan of this event you are, N-O O-N-E wants to listen to metal, soul, folk, house, flamenco and jazz all at the same time. If you like listening to ten different types of music at once, well then you deserve to go deaf imho, and very likely will if you hang out at the right corner. Not that you have much choice sometimes, which brings me to the next time honored favorite...

#2 There is no escape. It's everywhere. Like French "variety" music.

When you live outside the city, you can just pop in, listen to a group for a bit, then when you are tired of the noise, you just leave. You go back to your quiet home or appartement away from Paris, and you sigh deeply with contentment that you don't have to stay in that dreadful environment for the next 16hrs.

But we Parisians are prisoners. This is really the one moment in the year when I think to myself "Thank the lord, who in all his wisdom, made my neighborhood completely void of anything interesting to do or see, ever, Amen". Really the 16th is the only place to find any sort of momentary reprieve.

#3 It's Legal, giving you yet another reason to despise the law-makers, as if you needed one.

Hey Parents, no chance of getting your child to sleep, because the rave going on downstairs has a whole EIGHT goth fans bouncing their long black wigs to the beat, and you can tell this is going to go on... and on, and on and on, until their drugs wear off, well into the morning. (Wow, that was a lot of stereotypes! I think I hit a new record!)

It's a city-sanctioned noise fest. Anyone has the right to publicly blast away and I'm afraid passive-aggressive insults are your only option. Maybe I could start a business providing banners that have a giant middle finger painted above the words "My Ears Are Bleeding and I Kind of HATE YOU" to people in this very situation. 

I could roam the worst neighborhoods in my car, hanging them out the window with a big "For SALE!!" sign... this business plan practically writes itself.

#4 (French) Youth Revolt.

The French youth can drink legally at 16 here, which is not exactly conducive to a good experience at this outdoor event. A large portion of youngins have just taken the most stressful test of their lives, the BAC. No. BAC does not stand for 'Blood Alcohol Content'. The Baccelaureat, is the French final exam that determines their future education.

They need to cut loose, and this event is an open invitation to them to walk around the streets with bottles of fucking Desperado (a wimpy drink if I ever saw one, get a real beer dammit), making out with each other (as if Paris doesn't display enough tongue already), and my favorite, SCREAMING for absolutely NO REASON.

This year one even attacked my taxi with a bottle. It was the most badass thing anyone has ever done holding a Desperado, but still... not cool.

#5 Metro no-go.

The Paris Metro provides a special deal on June 21st -- 1 ticket, for all night, all zones. What the fine-print won't tell you, is that the metro is so overwhelmed with gangs, naive people coming into town from the burbs, and parisians trying to leave, that you actually can't properly use the metro.

Half the stations are randomly closed, hence why I had to take the aforementioned taxi that was attacked by Desperado drinkers in the first place. Forget the bus. Just... in general, forget it. Never think of it again, please, for your own sanity.

So, congrats if you enjoyed the show! Or if you didn't... contact me to purchase your very own passive-aggressive sign for next year!


  1. ha ha...i'd say those signs are more "aggressive" aggressive than "passive" aggressive - and I WANT one! :)

    1. I'll see what I can do for next year ;)

  2. I had a good laugh, thank you. Happened to be in Paris, staying overnight in a quiet Latin Quarter hotel with an American friend on June 21 this year. There was a pretty good band playing around the corner, and we had fun listening to them. Things still seemed pretty civilized by the time we left around 11:00pm to retreat to her wonderfully secluded room. Living away from France most of the year, I must confess I was happy to be there just in time for la Fete de la Musique. I can see your point though. Sounds to me like you should start planning a "field trip" outside of Paris for next year's event! May I suggested driving all the way to Normandy's Etretat cliffs? Great view. Absolute peace (unless you are unlucky enough to bump into a local band who decided to enjoy the great view too! :-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  3. This was absolutely hilarious!! I will keep this article in mind when I go back to study abroad in Paris in a year or so! :)

    1. Yes, do lol, although if you're still in school then I'm going to assume you haven't become a crotchety old whiner and you'll probably be fine.


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