Flying solo in Club Silencio

Photographer Jo Duck gets a private tour of David Lynch’s club Silencio.

Not being one for clubs, or any kind of nightlife, I was surprised to recently find myself drinking over-priced beer and dancing to Azaelia Banks at the place to be in Paris. Did I mention I was by myself? What a hero. To explain how this happened, I must stress to you how much I love David Lynch. Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive, Eraser Head, Wild at Heart & Blue Velvet have all provided visual inspiration for numerous fashion editorials I’ve shot over the past three years. As someone who shoots fashion heavily inspired by mood and atmosphere rather than pose and trends, I will often have a David Lynch film playing while I’m getting mood boards together. I even bought (not downloaded) his super weird 2011 album ‘Crazy Clown Time’.

So when I went to Paris in February I was eager to get into Lynch’s new members only ‘Club Silencio’. Members pay an annual fee to access the club and enjoy access to concerts, films and performances specially curated by international artists, musicians (Au Revoir Simone, Lykke Li and Air have all graced the stage so far), and generally amazing people.

Members only clubs are new in Paris, an idea popular in London & New York. However, Lynch’s club is also open to those who must wait in line (the dreaded public), from midnight to six am each morning. After mashing small pieces of my limited French into a Frankenstein like sentence, I managed to get past security, down the six flights of dimly lit stairs and arrived to meet the Club’s manager Coralie, who had agreed to give me a personal tour. I arrived just in time for the Saturday evening culinary discovery. Truffled Prusciotto and organic wine, madamoiselle? Oui. Merci.

Coralie explained the ‘decomposed and recomposed marble’ used to create the textured wall, pointed out the carpet created from one of Lynch’s artworks and the dim and beautifully designed lighting by Thierry Dreyfus. There is a golden tunnel that leads to the library, where books on film, art, design and fashion are stacked next to furniture realised from Lynch’s previous foray into furniture design. The lighting was less than accomodating for any curious readers but hey, it’s all part of the Lynch vision.

Then, on to the dance floor and stage. And yes, the lighting and velvet curtains are reminiscent of the club of the same name in Lynch’s ‘Mulholland Drive’ (2001). The many mirrors and sharp edged entrances made me feel as if I was still standing in the golden tunnel, even though I was on the dance floor at least 20 feet away from it. Undoubtedly, my favourite place in the club was the cinema. The press release states the cinema seat ‘owns a reduced inclination and straightforward geometry to allow the guests a liberated position’. They sure looked comfy.

The attention to detail in the club is impressive, but what I really wanted to know was if little Lynchian secrets could be found throughout the club. Perhaps there are hidden doors and booby traps? My question remains unanswered.

8.30pm on a Saturday night, the club was still a members only affair and the mood was relaxed. I decided to come back at 11.30pm to see what the changeover would be like at midnight. There was a queue of impatient (but obviously not important enough) Frenchies waiting outside the door as I arrived. I was given looks of disgust as I swanned past them all and greeted the security man as though I was a regular. Salut!

Silencio had now transformed into a club. Loud music, dancing, a queue at the bar. Everyone in the club seemed young, and I wondered how many of these people were actually paying an annual fee to be a member. I had been told that not everyone who applies for a membership is granted one. Silencio wants to create an artistic society where people can come not only to enjoy a drink, film or performance but can also network and meet other creatives.

The sense of superiority I had relished as I passed the queue evaporated after 40 seconds of being by myself. I was adamant I wouldn’t just stand there and play with my phone. So after drinking two of the cheapest things on the menu (Heiniken, 10 euro) I decided I could play the ‘I’m writing an article for a magazine in Australia’ card.

I asked the closest and least intimidating looking people some questions.
‘What do you do?’
‘I dj for Fendi, Mui Mui and Prada, and this is my boyfriend who makes fims for Chanel’.
‘Are you members?’
‘But it’s not midnight yet, how did you get in?’
‘We just did’.

I spoke with about eight djs, designers, models, photographers or artists. None of which were members. By one am the club was louder and it was time to leave. It’s certainly nice to dress up and put yourself in an intimidating environment and challenge yourself to have a good time, but sometimes you just want to go to a bar, drink a beer for four euro and dance to Warren G. Which is precisely what I did on my way home.