For years, I had a copy of this French poster hanging on the wall in various apartments I lived in in Chicago.
I never knew the reference. I always assumed it was from a novel or story.
During my recent visit to Paris, I picked up a postcard for my parents with the same photo. They have a black cat named Oz, who is one of the Great Loves of my Life — despite the fact that Oz, for reasons my family and I have never been able to decipher, HATES me with a burning passion.
I decided to Google “Tournée du Chat Noir” (tour of the black cat) in order to finally learn the history of the poster. According to Wikipedia, Le Chat Noir was, “a nineteenth-century entertainment establishment, in the bohemian Montmartre district of Paris. [April’s note: This is the same neighborhood where you can find the Moulin Rouge.] Le Chat Noir is thought to be the first modern cabaret: a nightclub where the patrons sat at tables and drank alcoholic beverages while being entertained by a variety show on stage.”
And, upon further reading, I discovered this: “Its imitators have included cabarets from St. Petersburg (Stray Dog Café) to Barcelona (Els Quatre Gats).”
Wait, what? I’ve actually been to Els Quatre Gats! I was in Spain last February.
The meal I had at Els Quatre Gats was probably the best thing I ate during my whole trip. (And future travels, take note: the lunch special includes a 3-course meal. That + wine cost me only 20 Euro.)
How funny to learn of the connection now!