Traditional Chinese calendar illustration
courtesy of Temps du Corps
by Georgina Oliver

Ready, steady... February! Brace yourself for an exuberantly eccentric month. As romantic as Valentine’s Day (Feb 14). As exotic as Chinese New Year (from Feb 12). And — when “in the mood”... madly erotic!

Chinese New Year
2002 coincides with the Year of the Horse which this city’s various Chinatowns will doubtless celebrate with the unbridled impulsiveness associated with this oriental astrological sign... A cheery family event, the Nouvel An Chinois also marks the beginning of spring, a period of renewed, positive energy in Chinese mythology. On Saturday, February 16 and Sunday, February 17, the Les Temps Du Corps cultural center hosts a weekend fiesta focusing on traditional dances, songs and music. Among its highlights: workshops demonstrating Qi Gong relaxation techniques or showing visitors how to make their own Dui Lian New Year decorations. (10 rue de l'Echiquier, 10e, tel: 01 48 01 68 28)

Exotic Menu
Been to Komodo yet? Run by Englishman-in-Paris Jeremy Hague, this savvy Left Bank resto revisits recipes from China, Thailand and Indonesia — giving them a fresh twist. From February 12 to 16, Hague offers a special 500F — or 76 euro — New Year cum Valentine’s menu, including a glass of litchi champagne, a bottle of Château de Camarsac Bordeaux and a digestive. Its star dish? An updated classic: “whole crispy pig served with Chinese vegetables and a soy sauce.” A great place to propose if the message is “I promise... Marriage won’t prevent us from traveling to faraway destinations.” (16 rue du Dragon, 6e, tel: 01 45 48 49 49)

Foxy Fashion
Officiellement... politically incorrect stereotypes such as the bison-hunting caveman waited upon by a bevy of simpering “concubines” belong to a bygone Dark Age. So, now, it’s okay to wear clothes that poke fun at pre-“Women’s Lib” clichés. A certain laissez-faire is suddenly apparent in everything from footwear to underwear... For Valentine’s, Vassarette is bringing out a supersexy, ultra-dainty lingerie line. Available at major supermarkets and “hypermarkets” in silver or red à la “Moulin Rouge,” its key feature is a stretchy lace cupped bra, with matching panties and string (all sold separately). How about wearing them under jeans, with a foxy “footnote”? For instance, Brit “trainer” brand Acupuncture's “Suki Saki” urban running shoes embroidered with an erotic geisha motif. (On sale chez Tim Bargeot, 3 rue de Turbigo, 1er, tel: 01 42 21 09 69.)

Bedroom Chic
On Saturday afternoons, cool couples have been crowding into Caravane chambre 19, a spanking new revamped warehouse/boutique dedicated to art de vivre... in the bedroom, (19 rue St-Nicolas, 12e, tel: 01 53 02 96 96). In the same spirit as its sister shop, Caravane, a too chic for words loft owners paradise that Françoise Dorget opened a decade ago, within walking distance of the Pompidou Center... “19” encourages its clientele to loaf around in style. Sleek slippers and XXL “siesta sofas” are de rigueur. The concept? Life's a grand pyjama party!

Music Ambience
What will you be listening to on Valentine’s night? The soundtrack of Tom Cruise’s post-Nicole Kidman love-hate thriller, “Vanilla Sky”? — that deftly “cruises” from R.E.M. and Radiohead to Bob Dylan, via Paul McCartney... From Jeff Buckley’s “Last goodbye” to The Chemical Brothers’ “Where do I begin?”
This millennium’s grooviest albums tend to belong to one of two increasingly popular categories: irresistible motion picture compilations... or, musical “cocktails” specially concocted to echo the ambience of hip and happening DJ venues. The Buddha Bar, Hôtel Costes... Every nightspot in town seems to have brought out an in-house CD — not to say several! Among these, British design magnate Sir Terence Conran’s Alcazar bar/restaurant on rue Mazarine.
As always, at the avant-garde of marketing strategy... Conran has taken the idea a step further, with a release titled “The Conran Shop.” Hand-picked by Radio FG's Aurore Leblanc, this suave selection of nova jazz and cool electronica is out now — “everywhere, not just at the furniture store.” Its aim? “ capture the essence of the pure and modern style of the Conran Shop in Paris — of course — but also London, New York and Tokyo.” And, bien sûr, to attract extra customers!

Nude Attitude
This capital’s latest folly? So-called “Porno Chic” cabarets! Just launched by Cathy and David Guetta — the bright sparks behind the world famous “Les Bains” nightclub — in a “sex’n’jet set” locale concepted by former Philippe Starck collaborator, Imaad Rahmouni... Pink Platinum is promoted as “Un nouveau clubbing!” — based on “striptease luxe.” Every night from 11:30pm to 6am some 50 topless “Show Girls” recruited from England, America and Canada will slither to the sound of sensual remixes... The question on everybody’s lips? Are les Guetta about to invent “strip hop” — not to be confused with “hip hop” or “trip hop”? (49-51 rue de Ponthieu, 8e, tel: 01 58 36 19 20)
What would you say to a Stringfellow’s, Paris? Early next month “Swinging London” icon Peter Stringfellow will be inaugurating the “Cabaret des Anges” (27 av des Ternes, 17e, tel: 01 47 66 45 00). “Nude Attitude” all week from 8pm to 4:30am, while Sunday night is for the ladies... featuring a male striptease act orchestrated by Wade Childress, an ex-Chippendale from Texas.

Tandem Taxis
If raunchy stag or hen nights ain't your thing... If you're an incurable romantic who dreams of eloping on a bicycle for two... You'll be keen to try an alternative form of transport. Last summer, 27-year-old Stéphane Bouriez embarked on a crazy adventure, creating Tandem-Services. His business plan? “Instead of grabbing a regular cab, wouldn’t Parisians prefer to hail or call a tandem? The ideal taxi for clients ‘late for an important date,’ able to ‘cycle’ them from one arrondissement to the next, without getting stuck in traffic...” (Association Tandem-Services, Parking St-Germain l’Auxerrois, pl du Louvre, 1er, M° Louvre-Rivoli, tel: 01 42 60 66 55)

"Suki Saki" shoes
courtesy of TKR

Caravane Chambre 19
courtesy of Mariette Landon

Vassarette's special Saint Valentine's lingerie line named "Angela"
courtesy of PNF

courtesy of PSCHENT

Qi Gong demonstration
courtesy of Temps du Corps