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La Grange aux Belles (1984)

By Sophie Bramly, Galerie Babylone & Le Grand Jeu [publishers], Uncle O [artwerk], Paris, 2022. Original Edition limited to 250 copies numbered with one poster and one audio cassette cover. Text in French. 44 pages. 21 x 15 cm. Condition : New.

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The First parties of French Hip Hop

La Grange aux Belles presents for the first time the unpublished photographs that the French photographer Sophie Bramly produced in 1984 in Paris, in a performance hall located in the 10th arrondissement, shortly after her return from New York where, alongside Bernard Zekri, she discovered hip-hop and rubbed shoulders with the big names on the local scene, from Afrika Bambaataa to Futura 2000, via Fab 5 Freddy, Grandmaster Flash, Kool Herc, Grand Mixer D.St and the Cold Crush Brothers.

In Paris, at the start of the 1980s, young people were still bathed in punk/new wave culture and even rockabilly or ska for some. It’s the time of Taxi Girl, The Specials, The Cure, The Clash, Stray Cats or Elli & Jacno… The time also of trendy nightclubs (Le Palace, Les Bains) where the entrance is well guarded for the pleasure of a few happy few. In 1982/83, however, the wave from the Bronx swept over France and took with it a new generation. It is mostly the “little brothers” who discover a culture from elsewhere. Rap, graffiti, breakdance, scratched vinyls, a new language and new codes, hip-hop turns heads.

A meeting and performance hall not far from the headquarters of the French Communist Party, La Grange aux Belles is the first place in Paris where hip-hop music can express itself freely.
The initiative came from Dj Chabin and his friends who for several years (1983-1986) organized Sunday afternoon parties mixing reggae, jazz-rock, zouk, funk and hip-hop. The success is immediate. A whole youth from the four corners of Ile-de-France meet to listen to the latest novelties, challenge themselves to dance and form bands according to their affinities. It is among these young people that we recruit extras for the H.I.P H.O.P show in Sydney. It is in this room that Afrika Bambaataa, passing through Paris, wants to mix. It is in this crowd that we count the future actors of French hip-hop (Solo, Bando, Joey Starr, Kool Shen, Dan de Tikaret, Lucien, Pascal Blaise, Lionel D, EJM, MC Jean Gabin…).

At the Grange aux Belles, photographs were prohibited. We seemed condemned to evoking it only through the memories of the “elders”. Until the day when Sophie Bramly finds some precious boards among her archives. This new issue of Détour is the unique testimony of an afternoon in 1984 where we find all this youth feverish by the very nascent hip-hop culture. The photographs illustrate the words of Sophie and Lucien Papalu and the interview and an exclusive playlist of Dj Chabin, namely that nothing thereafter could really resemble La Grange and that it was more than a party place, it was also and above all a crossroads of trends and meetings open to all without exception.