Brooklyn Moment #3: BK Bastille

For the past seven years, each July 14 (or the Sunday closest to it), Francophiles from all over flock to a small stretch of Smith Street in Boerum Hill to party like it’s 1789. At the behest of local bistros Bar Tabac and Robin des Bois, Smith between Bergen and Pacific Streets is cordoned off, tons of sand poured into wooden grids to create the petanque playground known as a boulodrome, merguez is prepared and Lillet, Ricard and Stella Artois flow like water in this Gallic bacchanal celebrating the storming of the Bastille Prison and the birth of modern France.

In the spirit

Le baby-foot

Michael Arenella’s Dreamland Orchestra set up camp on Dean Street, just outside Tabac sporting jaunty straw boaters, a Tyrolean trilby, even a pith helmet — gotta love those sousaphone players — for an afternoon of live music evoking Django Reinhardt, Buddy Bolden and a little Ricky Ricardo swagger, thrown in for good measure.

Michael Arenella

The Dreamland Orchestra

Sousaphone and classical guitar

The mini skate park staged at the corner of Pacific Street had onlookers ooh and ahhing the boarders’ prowess and the boule-tossing commenced just feet away in what has become the largest pétanque tourney (80 teams) in the US.

Francophonic murmurs abound and spirits are high. Brooklyn loves a party. I raise my Lillet Rouge in salute. “vive la France moderne!”


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