I’ve long been fascinated by French culture—the fashion, art, film, music, and “je ne sais quoi” of French life—-and decided, after a busy Burning Man season, to hop a plane across the Atlantic and immerse myself in Parisian life. In preparation for my trip, I reached out to our French Regional Contacts, Filouz, Marc, and Eddy, to see if there were any Burner events happening during my stay. They assured me that there was always something going on in Paris and invited my friends and I to a lovely French dinner and to their monthly “Burning Café” event that draws in Burners and artists from all corners of the City of Light.
The French Burners organization, which started as a small group of Paris Burners who decided to meet up each month at local cafés, has expanded over the past few years into a large and vibrant community that spans all of France. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the French Regional Contacts and the increasing interest in Burning Man culture in Europe, Burning Cafés now happen in the South of France, Aix en Provence / Marseille, Toulouse, Bretagne, and Dijon. These café meet ups are meant to be a place where Burners can get together to just hang out and get to know one another. They are a space where people make connections and where “Newbies” can get a sense of the community.
As a Newbie to Paris, I very quickly felt welcome in French Burner scene at the Burning Café at Bric a Brac Bar in the eclectic and lively Oberkampf district. The bar was packed full of interesting Parisians, who were sipping wine, listening to house music, and kissing one another on both cheeks (but of course!). When I wandered upstairs to where the official “Burner Meet up” was happening, I was greeted warmly by a girl with sparkly makeup who was asking people to sign up for an art project. I felt instantly at home. Then, using the tiny bit of French I know, I mingled my way around the room, through circles of friendly hula hoop troupers, musicians, and a group of San Franciscans who were also vacationing in Paris. I finally found a beaming Filouz in the center of it all holding court with a group of Burners. “It’s been amazing to see the community grow,” he told me. “There are always new people turning up at our Burning Cafés and it’s great to see them get comfortable and start to take on projects and make things happen themselves.” And, with so many social opportunities like the monthly Burning Cafes and so many inspiring and creative people around, I can easily see how Newbies would feel motivated to make their own contributions.
Burners from all over France and other European countries will converge on January 28th at the famous Moulin Rouge club for the annual Paris Burning Night, where participants will enjoy a night of art, music, and radical self-expression, French style.
To connect with the French Burners, visit the France page on the Regionals section of our website.