One random Thursday, after hanging out with some fellow interns at Seven Bar for our weekly networking and drink specials (organized by the Geneva Interns Association, or simply GIA), F met up with me and said a group of his colleagues were heading to another bar just a short walk away. And so we went to Palais Mascotte shortly after.
Palais Mascotte sits in the heart of Pâquis, between Rue de Monthoux (where that great Brazilian bar that makes feijoadas on Sundays is, Peníche) and Rue de Berne (the most infamous street in Geneva, described in Paulo Coelho’s Eleven Minutes as the epicenter of prostitution in the area). I had no expectations going in – I didn’t know what I was in for!
Fast forward to the moment we walked in: dark hardwood, chandeliers, a series of small tables, a modest stage area covered by a red velvet curtain – and about 15 professors from the Graduate Institute’s Anthropology and Sociology Department. If only my phone had not run out of battery…! So many missed opportunities for blackmail (haha! jk, but not really).
The bar service was painstakingly slow that night but the midnight show was a pleasant surprise. It began when two scantily clad girls came out to warm up the crowd, asking where everyone was from, tripping over some memorized Russian words for the “Ruskis” and letting us know we were in for a treat that night. Mind you, F, a colleague and I were all sitting in the front row (maybe not the best idea?).
The first act was a goofy-looking magician, who dazzled us with some cute tricks, especially the one which involved the lighting of a cigarette without a lighter – how he managed that, I still do not know.
Up next was the burlesque dancer in all her voluptuous glory. She began her performance wearing a sheer black robe with fur lining and, just two minutes in, she was bouncing up and down, making her tasseled pasties bounce with her. The crowd went wild.
And as though that wasn’t enough to tickle everyone’s fancy, out come the two girls that opened the show, doing a suggestive partner dance with moves you might only otherwise see done in a partner acrobatic yoga class.
The final performance was reserved for Palais Mascotte’s very own diva, a cross between Gloria Gaynor and Celia Cruz – Gloria for the way she assured us “[she] would survive” and Celia for her garish outfit and deep, raspy vozarrón.
I can’t say much for the music selection after the show, but if only for the show – it’s worth visiting at least once.