ReportageThe giant musette ball in Maine-et-Loire, where hundreds of people came to eat every Sunday, closed its doors in 2020 due to the health crisis. Regulars dream of being able to navigate there one day, to the sound of the accordion.
The flons have died down in Omlande. The accordion no longer expires, the lanterns languish, the floor mourns its missing dancers. At the time of its splendor, fifteen months ago, this retro dancehall welcomed 400 to 600 people every Sunday, the vast majority of them retirees, determined to play on the air of paso-doble or bolero, sometimes even of cha- cha-cha.
Planted in the heart of a forest, in Brion (1,200 inhabitants, Maine-et-Loire), this large marquee is one of more than 400 discos, clubs and other cabarets today that have filed for bankruptcy because of the pandemic, according to figures from the professional branch. Its closure may not be final, however. Acquired in January by a local investor, Omlande could be reborn by the end of the year. AT condition, of course, that the places dedicated to dance reopen to the public, a decision that the government must announce around June 21.
For now, all is grief and despondency among its regulars, deprived of tea dancing for too long. “There is great distress among them”, confirm Jocelyne Paulin-Dufour and Jean-Claude Charles, managers of the place until November 10, 2020, the day when justice pronounced the liquidation of their company. To hear them, Omlande, it was the Sunday outing, the festive meeting that punctuated the week. “The party, the conviviality, the social bond, they add. The gentlemen put on their best suits, the ladies went to the hairdresser. “
The late arrival of government aid was fatal to this dance hall. In eight months, it received only 3,880 euros from the state. As the couple did not dare to take out a loan guaranteed by the State in the face of the uncertainties associated with this type of activity, the cash set aside – 50,000 euros – proved insufficient to cover the fixed costs (rent, electricity , taxes…). “Borrowing without knowing in how long we could reopen, or under what conditions, we did not like it”, explain the former managers. While the health crisis has especially accelerated the bankruptcy of financially ill-health discotheques, they perceive the fall of Omlande as an injustice: “We never had a dime overdraft, ever! “
The establishment had carved out a pretty reputation in the circle of musette balls and Sunday open-air cafés. Firstly because of its 430 m² dance floor, one of the most spacious in the Center-West. Then by its natural setting. Bought in the town of Mazé, the imposing beige marquee sat in the middle of a former 10 hectare forest amusement park, created in the 1990s by an industrialist, Olivier Martinet, specializing in sand extraction in the Loire. . It is by associating his initials with the concept of sandy “moor” – unless it is in reference to Disneyland – that he founded “Omlande”.
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