Coming from the indie rock scene in New York, it was with high expectations that I planned a Friday night out at Pop In, the long-popular hipster destination set in the lively Oberkampf district, in Paris' somewhat gritty 11th arrondissement. Clad in a black mini dress and heels, I was a bit overdressed as I entered the first level of the three-story bar. Visitors enter directly into a small, standing room-only bar area, where after grabbing affordable drinks, you climb a winding staircase to the second floor which serves as a lounge.
Arriving at 10 pm, we were able to secure two seats by a window, which we were also able to open, as the club is infamous for lacking ventilation. Looking around as I sipped my vodka tonic, I felt as if I were in a friend's living room. There is an old piano available for play, rock posters on the wall, and vintage furniture that could have either been very expensive or found on the curb. Crossing a small hallway where one bathroom was available (toilet paper-packed though!), led me to another lounge area which had its own bar and two seating areas that served well for large groups.
Location and Contact Info:
During the week, Pop In hosts an array of French indie bands in the basement, while weekends are reserved for the dancing hipster crowd.
Address: 105, rue Amelot, 11th arrondissement
Metro: Saint Sebastien Froissart (line 8) or Oberkampf (line 9 and 5)
Open: Every day from 6:30 pm to 1:30 am
Tel: +33 (0)1 48 05 56 11
Visit the official website
Drinking at Pop In:
This venue offers a full bar with beer, wine and cocktails in relatively inexpensive range, with pitchers of beer also available, a true rarity in Paris. Food is not served here, though, so you might want to grab some street food on the nearby Rue Oberkampf, or falafel in the Marais, before heading here.
Read related: Best Cocktail Bars in Paris
Time to Dance?
As both the club and Paris metro finish at 1:30 am during the weekends, I had expected the dance "cave" to be already open when we arrived, but after watching several people, including myself, navigate the steep staircase to the basement only to find the door closed, I learned that the room didn't open until close to 11:30 pm. It was during this waiting period, that the bar became especially crowded with not much room to move and seating no longer securable. I also noticed that I was surrounded by mostly anglophones and French students. Needing some air and a quick scene change, we ventured next door to the Panic Room club, which already had the dance room open, but with music that was more for a top 100 crowd. The smell of the take out food that is allowed in also didn't sit so well, so we bar-hopped back into Pop In, where the dance floor had just opened.
Read related feature: Top Dance Clubs in Paris
The "Cave" Dance Floor:
Lit by only two flashing red lights, the basement dance floor features a small stage, which attracted women dressed in jeans and heels or ballerina flats, while the guys stayed toward the small DJ booth, clad in T-shirts and jeans.
Already after midnight, I was a bit disappointed with how unpopulated the dance floor was. With the likes of Depeche Mode and The Smiths spun in between electro loops, I expected a little more from the DJ as well. I did, however, rejoice in the fact that not only could I breathe downstairs, but I could also dance without anyone bumping into me. As we walked back to the metro to catch the last train home, twenty-somethings and younger were still piling into the club. Perhaps it was a bit comforting to realize that in the past ten years, nothing at Pop In has really changed.