‘Gand a fini par faire comme les autres.’ The rise of the café-concert and variety theatre in late nineteenth-century Ghent’s ‘society of the spectacle’Cafés-concerts and variety theatre have generally received only a cursory mention within the vast literature on the late nineteenth-century culture of spectacle in Europe’s major cities. This article uses Ghent as a case study to demonstrate that even in provincial towns, there was an abundance of spectacle available to the public during this era. Cafés-concerts and variety theatre played a particularly significant role and were closely interwoven with the spectacular urban renewal that took place in Ghent during the late nineteenth century. In addition, these forms of entertainment carried the seeds of the type of mass spectacle that would emerge in the twentieth century. Why, then, have the café-concert and variety theatre gone unexplored by academics for so long? In an attempt to answer this question, this article offers a means for identifying these two specific forms of spectacle in major urban centres and provincial towns in Belgium and abroad, thereby enabling a more thorough exploration of the phenomenon based on a wide range of sources. This, in turn, will allow the café-concert and variety theatre to emerge from obscurity and take their rightful place in the debate on the modern ‘society of the spectacle’.

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Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis

Jonckheere, Evelien. (2017). ‘Gand a fini par faire comme les autres.’ De opkomst van het café-concert en variététheater in de laatnegentiende- eeuwse Gentse ‘spektakelmaatschappij’. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 20(2), 74–95. doi:10.18146/2213-7653.2017.328