The café-concert offered a varied repertoire at a low price, making it a venue accessible to a wide audience. The focus was on comical, sentimental, or bawdy songs, for which printmakers illustrated the sheet music. The spectacle also consisted of gaudily costumed dancers, acrobats, and variety acts such as boxing kangaroos.
The caricature portraits they made of the artistes and of members of the audience slumped in their seats perfectly evoke the easy-going atmosphere of these venues.
Although the ones in central Paris were a little more salubrious than their counterparts in Montmartre, differences of social class were not important at the café-concert.
Georges Montorgueil, ‘Le Café Concert’, in Georges d’Esparbes et al., Les Demi Cabots. Le Café-Concert, Le Cirque, Les Forains, Paris 1896
Elisabeth Pillet, ‘Cafés-concerts et cabarets’, Romantisme (1992), nr. 75, pp. 43-50
Phillip Dennis Cate et al., The Spirit of Montmartre. Cabarets, Humor and the Avant-Garde, 1875-1905, New Brunswick 1996