Reopening the Bataclan will be a ‘long and painful journey’
The Bataclan venue in Paris, where Islamic State group gunmen murdered 90 revellers and injured 200 more on November 13, could re-open by the end of next year.
In an interview with French daily Le Monde, Olivier Poubelle and Jules Frutos, who own 30% of the music venue (with the rest belonging to French publishing giant Lagardère) said they were determined to see the Bataclan brought back to life.
Both Poubelle and Frutos state openly that they are struggling to come to terms with the massacre at the venue, by far the worst of the multiple attacks on November 13 which claimed a total of 130 lives, mostly in Paris’s 10th and 11th arrondissements (districts).
“No other music venue in the world has been the victim of carnage on such a scale,” said Poubelle, while Frutos added that both of them were wracked by feelings of guilt.
"An emergency worker told me 'You're not responsible', but still...” Poubelle explains. “Two of our colleagues are dead, as are music professionals that we knew well. Others are seriously injured. I was not in the theatre and I think about that all the time.”
Poubelle said he rushed to the venue when the news first broke on November 13.
"There were dead and injured all around," he told Le Monde. "(The police) wanted to know the layout and what they were going to find behind the door, how to get upstairs as quickly as possible."
Lost friends and colleagues
Poubelle said two of his colleagues who were killed that night – a lighting technician and a press officer – were in fact off duty and having fun at the Bataclan when they were gunned down.
He described the area – the 11th arrondissement in eastern Paris – as one of the more mixed and left-wing in France, but criticised attempts in some quarters to label or politicise the attacks.
“It wasn’t an attack on music, they opened fire on the spectators and not on the American Eagles of Death Metal band performing,” said Poubelle. "They just wanted to kill as many people as possible.”
Both said they had turned down help from the French ministry of culture to stage a homage to the people who lost their lives on November 13.
“The best homage we can give to the victims would be to reopen the Bataclan as soon as possible, start booking acts and get the public back in again,” said Frutos. “We need life. It is necessary that the doors should reopen. Our employees need that, the artists need that.”
Eagles of Death Metal have already said they want to play the first concert when the Bataclan re-opens.
The Bataclan, a four-storey building whose Chinese-style architecture makes it a neighbourhood landmark, has a long and colourful history. Built in the mid 1800s and named after the Offenbach operetta “Ba-ta-clan”, the Bataclan theatre and music hall became a cinema in the 1920s, before being reborn as a legendary rock venue in the early 1970s. The list of groups and artists who have played there is long, from The Velvet Underground, The Ramones, The Cure, Prince, Snoop Dogg, and Kylie Minogue among many others.