Silencio has become something of a mythical place. The private venue in Montmartre has become a go-to spot for networking among Paris’ cultural A‑listers, as well as an essential stop for musicians and artists visiting the city. Now the subterranean club, co-founded by Arnaud Frisch and filmmaker David Lynch in 2011, is set to celebrate 10 years of existence (it’s not counting the year it was forced to close due to Covid).
To mark the occasion, Silencio has released a gallery featuring some of the ‘slebs who’ve slunk through its doors, from Lana Del Rey to the Olsen twins, Baby Keem to Maisie Williams. The club is also revealing the stories behind the shots – for example the snap of A$AP Rocky and fashion ledge Michèle Lamy enjoying a laugh together: “In 2016, in reaction to Trump’s election, A$AP and Lamy joined forces for a live and dramatic visual art performance at [the pop-up of] club Silencio in Miami. A night to remember.”
THE FACE spoke to Frisch to find out more about the Parisian hotspot’s secrets, its marathon parties, and the legends who have stepped through its doors.
How would you describe Parisian nightlife?
It’s multifaceted, from underground warehouses to West Paris’ chic clubs. It feeds on events like Fashion Week and [the art fair] Paris+ par Art Basel and is diverse enough to inhabit historical or contemporary buildings alike. At Silencio, the night is special, a moment when artists are at the centre.
What’s a secret no one knows about Silencio?
Silencio’s physical building was an important place in the fight for freedom and civil rights at the end of the 19th century. It’s located in the former printing house of L’Aurore newspaper, which published Emile Zola’s famous article and historical text against anti-Semitism, J’accuse. After creating Social Club next door, the place was used to record some of the greatest French touch [AKA house] albums in the middle of the 2000s with Justice recording their first album there. [It’s now a club called Sacré.]
What were your thoughts during the year that Silencio was closed due to the pandemic?
We were concerned about the implications of this sort of social change on people’s desire to experience hospitality in the same way. Silencio is a place for individuals to come together, exchange ideas and have collective enjoyment, something which we feared the pandemic may strip people of forever. We are pleased that this has not been the case and we are now focused on the elevation and expansion of our offering.
What is the longest a Silencio party has gone on for?
Every year during its birthday week, Silencio organises a 24-hour party to introduce its cultural programming with talks, premieres, performances and DJ sets.
And your favourite artist to have performed?
We welcomed Prince for the after-show of his last concert in Paris. I will always remember him walking gracefully down Silencio’s golden corridor
Who is your favourite person to have performed at Silencio?
It is hard to pick one. There was Lana Del Rey’s first Parisian concert with an album that was meant to be very “Lynch”. Beth Ditto’s moving tribute to Amy Winehouse when she passed – an acapella version of her song Back to Black. A powerful Kendrick Lamar show, embodying a progressive America, who came after he shot his [God Is Gangsta] video at Silencio.
If Silencio was a song, what would it be?
Probably a track from Roy Orbison, who impacted David Lynch’s movies from Blue Velvet to Mulholland Drive.
What is your favourite meal to eat at Silencio des Pres?
We chose Michelin-starred chef Guillaume Sanchez to create the Silencio des Prés menu with us and we keep the kitchen open to invite chefs for collaborations like Christophe Pelé or contemporary artist Carsten Höller, who did a brutalist menu during Paris+. On the occasion of Silencio’s 10-year anniversary, we will serve a menu free from meat and fish. My favourite meal is faux gras, a replacement for foie gras, and aubergine steak.
And your favourite cocktail?
Floradora by Remy Savage: ginger, raspberry syrup, lime, gin, raspberry, eau de vie, soda. He creates the drinks menus for all our locations. They never disappoint.
What does the next 10 years of Silencio look like?
The first 10 years were focused on art, music and cinema. Our challenge now is to preserve the avant-garde culture that makes us different while adapting to the new ways of life that emerged after the pandemic. That pushed us to open a place to share ideas and work during the day, [Silencio des Prés] in [the district of] Saint-Germain-des-Prés that challenges the future of food, and a beach club in Ibiza where visitors are invited to discover the best chefs and DJs in a place of serenity.