Reading Paris Nights: My Year at the Moulin Rouge

As an avid reader I find myself gravitating to particular genres like classic literature, history and memoir. I love a good memoir and find that I often can relate to the authors and find a little of myself in them. Every once in awhile I read one where the author’s life is so far from my own that I can’t relate at all. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it’s fascinating to catch a glimpse into the unknown and that’s just what I did when I read a review copy of Paris Nights: My Year at the Moulin Rouge.

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Paris Nights: My Year at the Moulin Rouge is written by Cliff Simon with Loren Stephens. Mr. Simon is an actor (and LA local!) known for his long running role on Stargate SG-1. I must admit I never watched the show so a glimpse into his world was entirely new to me.

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Cliff grew up in apartheid era South Africa and spent two years in the South African Air Force. A gifted athlete and dancer he spent the years after his discharge performing in venues around the country. Once day a former Air Force pal gave him an offer he couldn’t’ refuse – join him in Paris to work as a dancer at the world famous Moulin Rouge. Without hesitation he booked himself on a one way ticket to Paris and a year of adventure soon followed.

Simon’s life is so far removed from my own that I could only read in disbelief at the shenanigans he and his fellow dancers were involved in. From regular fisticuffs to casual love affairs to dalliances with criminals he lived in a world right out of the movies. Paris in the 1980’s sounds like a raucous era and he made the most of it. For a brief time I found myself right there with him taking full advantage of the City of Lights.

If you’d like to delve into Paris Nights: My Year at the Moulin Rouge you can catch Mr. Simon at Chaucer’s Bookstore in Santa Barbara on September 15th where he’ll be giving a reading.

 

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