Now here is a French tradition I can really get into - The Annual Firemen's Ball.
The idea is simple. Each neighborhood's fire station opens their doors to the public on the 13th and 14th of July starting at 9PM and throws a humongous ball lasting til 5AM. DJ's are hired, lights are strung up, bars are set up, and firemen in each neighborhood gussy up in their uniforms for the local girls, serving them champagne and beer with a flirtatious smile. (Okay, minus the hats.)
Women talk about the Firemen's Ball with voices filled with hope, as in "So-and-so met her fireman at the Odéon Ball last year, and they're still together!" Parisian firemen are apparently the most sought-after, perhaps in part because it is the hardest brigade to get into, and the one that keeps their recruits in the best physical shape.
As a first hand witness, I can attest that the brave firemen of the 6th arrondissement and their champagne pouring skills are very well selected indeed.
I love the idea of a public service opening its doors and saying, come celebrate the National Holiday with us. Better yet, let me serve you alcohol in uniform! (Vive la France!)
Hell, let's get totally sloshed, dance to themes from Grease, Flashdance and Thriller, and while you're at it, get a load of my abs as I dance on top of the bar for you as a service to the community!
It's a nice little tradition that feels all historical and Old Europe-y. Think about it - a public ball in an enclosed courtyard, the eligible young men in uniform, the giggling girls - only the meddling mothers and Colin Firth were missing!
I wonder if there aren't a suspicious number of calls coming in for fires in young women's apartments on the 15th of July.....