The 1920s, also known as the “Roaring Twenties”, were the age of dramatic social changes. However many people were uncomfortable with this new, frivolous mass culture. One of the most common symbols of the “Roaring Twenties” era is probably the ‘flapper’ – a young woman with short haircut wearing short skirt; she smokes, drinks a lot, isn’t afraid to tell unladylike things, in addition she is sexually free.
During the 1920s Paris, in particular, for its daring permissiveness, free and easy attitude towards life had gained a “bad reputation”. Many gay and lesbian nightclubs were opened there; among them was ‘Le Monocle’, which is considered the first lesbian nightclub. It was described in the numerous novels of that time, one of the most popular was “Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932” by Francine Prose.
It was opened by Lulu de Montparnasse in the Montmartre district, which was “the main gathering place for Parisian lesbians” in those days. Women who were the frequent visitors of “The Monocle” were dressed is stylish Tuxedos with white carnations in their buttonholes and wore chic bob short hairstyles. And of course all of them wore monocles. The monocle was a sure sign of distinction among the lesbian community of Paris.
Le Monocle was incredibly popular and the most famous lesbian nightclub from the 1920s till the early 1940s, until the Nazis occupied France. They ruthlessly persecuted homosexuals. All the night clubs including “Le Monocle” were closed.
After World War II it was reopened by a new owner and was called “Le Monocle Nouveau” (New Monocle). This time not only lesbians but also gays and straight people were allowed to come to the nightclub. It wasn’t the same place anymore and couldn’t regain its past glory. The golden age of “Le Monocle” sadly ended.