Bricktop's Paris: African American Women in Paris Between by Tracy Whiting

By Tracy Whiting

Bricktop's Paris

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To her name, as in Mrs. Peter Ducongé. By 1931, while everyone around her is closing shop and hightailing it back to the United States or other, more hospitable places, she imprudently, as time would tell, opens a larger club at 66 rue Pigalle and purchases a home in Bougival, a hamlet that impressionist painters made famous, feats remarkably few Americans, black or white, were able to do. There in Bougival she set up a tranquil idyll away from the bustle and hustle of Paris. LES DAMES, GRAND AND SMALL, OF MONTMARTRE 33 The dance the Charleston was her entrée, though, into Cole Porter’s rarefied world in the 1920s.

Peter Ducongé. By 1931, while everyone around her is closing shop and hightailing it back to the United States or other, more hospitable places, she imprudently, as time would tell, opens a larger club at 66 rue Pigalle and purchases a home in Bougival, a hamlet that impressionist painters made famous, feats remarkably few Americans, black or white, were able to do. There in Bougival she set up a tranquil idyll away from the bustle and hustle of Paris. LES DAMES, GRAND AND SMALL, OF MONTMARTRE 33 The dance the Charleston was her entrée, though, into Cole Porter’s rarefied world in the 1920s.

For as Joan DeJean writes in The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour: In the sixteenth century, the French were not thought of as the most elegant or the most sophisticated European nation. By the early nineteenth century . . France had acquired a sort of monopoly on culture, style, luxury living, a position it has occupied ever since. At the same time, Paris had won out over all its obvious contemporary rivals—Venice, London, Amsterdam—and had become universally recognized as the place to find elegance, glamour, and even romance.

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