1985, Grace Jones, Slave to the Rhythm

In 1985, I reached my 20th year. After years of « rock and roll », I finally cooled down, but I entered another moment in my life. Didier Lestrade talked about this many times and it is a subject which is not so frequently told. I stopped having sex for almost a year and a half. Not completly, but almost. HIV was a fear in my generation’s mind like no one can understand nowadays. It was a fatal disease, not only fatal, but before dying it was just horrible, a slow agony, losing weight, caposy syndrom… Hell.

We were quite a lot to adopt the same strategy, not a will not to have sex, but an impossibility. I started having erection disorders too and they lasted for years. Parisians my age are survivors. I say parisians because being gay in Paris was easier, and also because with the election of Francois Mitterrand in 1981, freedom started to govern our lives like never before. Bars, clubs, it was exciting for people who, like me, were in their 16 or 17. Everything was new. So we had sex. I was not among the more promiscuous, maybe 2 or 3 guys a week was my highest record, but I remember some who had 5 or 6 encounters at night in the backroom of The Broad.

In fact, I was not a full time gay, I was essentially a « rocker », with involved in politics. And I was also very curious about music, fashion, art.

1984/ 1985 was the pinnacle of the « world music » culture in Paris, with an important community of Ivorians, Senegalese and Congolese (we used to say Zaire at the time). It was soukouss (a western african style of music very popular at the time). Many africans used to dress like Grace Jones, her androginious look was a real fashion. The haircut especially.

Grace Jones and her partner Jean-Paul Goude are still, to me, the symbol of that moment in Parisian culture. A moment when culture was not defined by things from the past, but what anyone could bring to make something new, original and powerfull. There is no hasard this is the time of La marche pour l’Egalite (a one month demonstration from town to town from the young generation of migrants).
What a powerfull song, what powerfull visuals. It was a different moment and this is now history, and memory.

Grace Jones records are slowly reussied, and I felt I had to put the music in its context, a moment of intense creativity but also a moment when the gay community in Paris was entering a nightmare it had no idea, which would make our city the center of the epidemy in the developped world, with the loss of young writers, designers, artists, and others, anonymous. By tthousands, tens of thousands…



Une réponse à “1985, Grace Jones, Slave to the Rhythm”

  1. I arrived in France as Mitterand was elected, fleeing thatcherite Britain! God she ruined that great country and opened the flood gate to greedy pigs. France under Mitterand was a haven for humanity for all those years.

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