Caroline Moorehead: Paris in the '30s

The following excerpt is from Caroline Moorehead's Martha Gellhorn: A Life

Caroline Moorehead (28 October 1944 - )
In the spring of 1930, when Martha arrived in Paris with two suitcases, a typewriter and $75, France was much envied by the rest of the world. The leading economic power in Europe, second only to Britain for the size and wealth of its colonies, its army was strong, its franc solid and French industry was said to be growing faster than any other. 

... On Friday and Saturday nights, the young Americans went dancing at the bals musette around the Luxembourg, or dropped in on the new nightclubs to listen to jazz or practice the charleston or the shimmy. Theatres kept their foyer floors highly polished, and provided orchestras, so that audiences could fox trot in the intervals. Musical reviews were more lavish than they had ever been, the dancing girls wearing great sheaths of feathers and plumes; at the Casino, Josephine Baker, and 'unforgettable female ebony statue', had already made her first appearance naked but for a single pink flamingo feather, in a show that included a live cheetah, a flight of trained pigeons, some roller skaters and an aerial ballet of stout Italian dancers. ... So essential were the fashions dictated by Chanel and Molyneux, that the New Yorker ran a regular column on what smart Parisians were wearing: lipstick, even by day, brightly coloured silk stockings, nail varnish, and perms that rippled the hair like a beach at low tide. Life was glamorous, full of experiments and agreeably cheap. It was a very long way from St Louis.

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