Le Chat Noir
Le Chat Noir (French pronunciation: [lə ʃa nwaʁ] ; French for "The Black Cat") was a 19th-century cabaret, meaning entertainment house, in the bohemian Montmartre district of Paris. It was first opened on 18 November 1881 at 84 Boulevard Rochechouart by the impresario Rodolphe Salis, and closed in 1897 not long after Salis' death (much to the disappointment of Picasso and others who looked for it when they came to Paris for the Exposition in 1900).
Le Chat Noir is thought to be the first modern cabaret: a nightclub where the patrons sat at tables and drank alcoholic beverages while being entertained by a variety show on stage, introduced by a master of ceremonies who interacted with people he knew at the tables. Its imitators have included cabarets from St. Petersburg (Stray Dog Café) to Barcelona (Els Quatre Gats).
Perhaps best known now by its iconic Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen poster art, in its heyday it was a bustling nightclub that was part artist salon, part rowdy music hall. The cabaret published its own humorous journal Le Chat Noir, which survived until 1895.
Early history 
The club began by renting the cheapest accommodations it could find, a small two room affair at 84 Boulevard Rochechouart, (a site now commemorated only by a historical plaque). The site's success was assured with the wholesale arrival of a group of radical young writers and artists called Les Hydropathes (“those who are afraid of water”), led by the journalist Emile Goudeau. The group claimed to be averse to water, preferring wine and beer; their name doubled as a nod to the "rabid" zeal with which they advocated their sociopolitical and aesthetic agendas. Goudeau’s club met in his house on the Rive Gauche (left bank), but had become so popular that it outgrew its meeting place. Salis met Goudeau, whom he convinced to transfer the club across the river to 84 Boulevard Rochechouart.
The club began by serving bad wine and with a rather inferior decor. But from the first, at the door, guests were greeted by a Swiss guard, splendidly bedecked and covered with gold from head to foot, supposedly responsible for bringing in the painters and poets who arrived, while barring the "infamous priests and the military." Eventually Salis' tongue-in-cheek admirational piece was on a high marble fireplace: The skull of Louis XIII as a child
Second site 
Le Chat Noir soon outgrew its first site. Three and a half years after opening, its popularity forced it to move into larger accommodations a few doors down, in June 1885. Located at 12 Rue Victor-Masse (which before 1885 had been Rue de Laval 12), the new establishment was sumptuous. It was the old private mansion of the painter Alfred Steven, who, at the request of Salis, had transformed it into a “fashionable country inn” with the help of the architect Maurice Isabey. On 10 June 1885, with great fanfare, Salis moved to new premises at 12 Rue Victor-Masse. Very quickly, poets and singers who performed at The Black Cat found the best practice for their craft to be had in Paris.
Salis most often played, with exaggerated, ironic politeness, the role of conférencier (post-performance lecturer, or emcee). It was here that the Salon des Arts Incohérents (Salon of Incoherent Arts), the "shadow plays" and the comic monologues got their start.
According to Salis: "The Chat Noir is the most extraordinary cabaret in the world. You rub shoulders with the most famous men of Paris, meeting there with foreigners from every corner of the world."
Famous patrons of the Chat Noir included Franc-Nohain, Adolphe Willette, Caran d'Ache, André Gill, Émile Cohl, Paul Bilhaud, Sarah England, Paul Verlaine, Henri Rivière, Claude Debussy, Erik Satie, Charles Cros, Jules Laforgue, Charles Moréas, Albert Samain, Louis Le Cardonnel, Coquelin Cadet, Emile Goudeau, Alphonse Allais, Maurice Rollinat, Maurice Donnay, Marie Krysinska, Jane Avril, Armand Masson, Aristide Bruant, Théodore Botrel, Paul Signac, Yvette Guilbert, August Strindberg, George Auriol, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
Last location 
The club would eventually move once more, before it closed, to 68, Boulevard de Clichy. Today, this last location has been transformed into a modern boutique hotel, with a few nods to its raucous past.
Cultural associations 
A poster of "Le Chat Noir" can be seen prominently in the crime scene photos from the 2001 murder of Kathleen Peterson by her husband and novelist Michael Peterson
Le Chat Noir also survives as a recognised biscuit brand in France.
-  The plaque at 84 Boulevard Rouchechouart
- Paris, crossroads of arts and letters, 1880-1918, Jacqueline Baldran, ed. L'Harmattan, 2002
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