The venue, Le Bikini, which is located in Ramonville, near Toulouse, France has been organizing concerts and club nights for the past 31 years. During this time, the establishment, which takes its name from a painting by the artist Clovis Trouille called "Les filles en bikini" ("Girls in bikinis”), has become one of the best-known concert venues in France. Today, Le Bikini hosts more than 150 bands each year, including household names such as Indochine and even Coldplay.
To enable it to accommodate both its artists and its patrons in a professional manner, Le Bikini has recently updated its range of fixtures through the acquisition of new MAC Quantum Profile LED fixtures, manufactured by Martin Professional.
In the wake of this investment, we caught up with Technical Director Fabrice Sansonetto, to talk about Le Bikini, its importance within the French cultural landscape and the lighting equipment used at the venue.
The story began in 1983 in a villa on the banks of the Garonne. To start with, its main focus was on club nights, however this concept rapidly evolved until it was mainly about hosting concerts. The venue's innovative program, coupled with its desire to always keep on top of new musical trends, has helped build its reputation. Numerous artists, including Zebda, Placebo, C2C and Laurent Garnier have made their debuts at Le Bikini, which has become a key venue on both the national and international touring circuit.
In other words, today Le Bikini is considered a true landmark of the French cultural landscape. Fabrice Sansonetto explains: "Our primary motivation is not to host a nightclub, it is to host concerts. We welcome bands with open arms, doing everything we can to make them feel at home, and to make them want to come back."
A key aspect of ensuring that artists returns is the ability to offer them a professional environment. In 2001, the villa on the banks of the Garonne was destroyed in a fire, so Le Bikini's management decided to construct a new building - this time beside the Canal du Midi. "We wanted to reinstate the venue in a grander and more professional guise", said Sansonetto while showing us the concert hall, which reopened its doors in 2007 boasting a new capacity of 1,500 people.
In terms of lighting, Le Bikini possesses a range of cutting edge fixtures, including the MAC Aura from Martin Professional. "When we host bands, it is our responsibility to suggest the best possible venue configuration based on their own technical specifications, but using our equipment. Occasionally bands bring their own kit, but this doesn't happen very often. For this reason, it is very important that we have lighting that is both up to date and easily adaptable to the extremely diverse needs of the artists."
As the spotlights were no longer able to meet these requirements, Sansonetto turned his mind to updating the equipment. "It wasn't long before we found ourselves being drawn in by an new product", he explained, "but then Lionel Collet, who is a lighting designer, came to see me saying that Martin had released a state-of-the art fixture that can fill the same needs as the MAC 700."
This was a very interesting prospect for Sansonetto, as the MAC 700 is included in almost all of the specifications provided by the bands that play at Le Bikini. Therefore, he approached DUSHOW Toulouse for an initial demo. "I was won over right from the very start", Sansonetto explained. "All of a sudden, the competing product appeared obsolete to us. Although the technology in this field is developing at an extremely rapid pace, resulting in a market that is constantly evolving, the MAC Quantum is on the verge of becoming indispensable for future requests. I'm absolutely certain that from now on we will be in possession of a professional tool that will respond perfectly to our needs.”
Every now and then we ask bands what they think of the new fixture. The response is unanimous! Everybody tells us that ‘it really is a superb choice’.