Liberté, Egalité, Frugalité
On Friday, the SG and I headed over to the French Library to celebrate Bastille Day. Each year, the French Library hosts the hottest dance party in Boston, figuratively and literally. Held on Marlborough street in the Back Bay, the party takes place on the asphalt between Clarendon and Berkley streets. The fenced off area is complete with a stage for live music, street fair food, and of course, port-o-potties.
But when I say "street fair food" you can put away those images of fried dough and corn dogs. Instead, the best of Boston's French restaurants were serving delicious food at Fru Gal prices. For $4 you could sample Sandrine's blueberry creme brulee. For $5, Brasserie Jo offered you pate de foie gras with truffle oil. It was a frugal francophiles fan-tasty.
The music rocked. Instead of the stereotypical French soundtrack of Edith Piaf and Amelie accordion solos, this celebration featured the hottest acts coming out of Francophone Africa.
The show was opened by the hip hop outfit DAARA J from Senegal. They got the audience hopping, quite literally, by refusing to play until Boston "jumped like a lion. Jump! Jump!" They also exposed the true nature of the Bastille party-goers, who stared at them expectanctly during their French stage pater. When the band announced between songs that "Le Rap est née en Afrique!" they got no reaction until they switched to English. "Rap was born in Africa," they repeated, and then the crowd broke out into cheers.
Next DABY TOURÉ of Mauritania laid down some Dave Matthews style tunes and the Malian pop duo AMADOU & MARIAM closed out the evening. Unfortunately, the SG and I couldn't last for the end of their act. We were dancing with our arms waving over our heads in an attempt to pull the cool air, which felt like a ten degree difference, down into the crush of bodies. It was just too damn hot and we had to call it quits.
This raucous good time was $25 - which is cheap for an evening with three stellar world music groups. But that price didn't include extras, like vin rouge or crepes avec mousse chocolat, all of which had to be paid for out of pocket. Which means, we didn't get to sample all that fine French food.
As we were leaving, we realized that there was a separate Bastille Day happening just outside the fenced area in the outdoor ampitheater of Boston's First Church (Unitarian/Universalist). It was an accoustically perfect place to enjoy the concert, and there was plenty of space for the few souls who decided to dance. A few even persuaded event staff to sell them pate de foie gras over the fence. So who knows, maybe next year you'll find this CB with the truly frugal, enjoying the sounds of l'Afrique for free.