Bastille Day firemen’s ball: background and origins of this French tradition

Published by Cécile D. · Published on 29 June 2022 at 13h38
This is a celebration highly anticipated: July 14 – or Bastille Day – rhymes with firework show, and firemen’s ball! Where does this popular party come from? Let us tell you more about it.

To celebrate Bastille Day on July 14 in France, are held a military parade, firework shows obviously, and a firemen’s ball! These traditional festivities have different backgrounds and meanings, some more famous than others. But what about the firemen’s ball?

On July 13 and 14, all over France, a lot of people will dance to French song classics and summer hits with firemen. A typically French celebration originating from Montmartre – according to the legend.

According to Paris firefighters’ website, the first firemen’s ball was held on July 14, 1937, at the Montmartre fire station, on the initiative of Sgt. Cournet. Story has it that Montmartre firefighters – when returning from the military parade – were followed by citizens happy to celebrate the National Day.

Given the euphoria at the moment, the firemen decided to open the doors of their station to passersby to extend the party with an impromptu dance.

The party was such as success the stations around wanted to do it too. Celebrations increased year after year, all over the country. At first, during these balls, firemen and civils showed off their gym skills. And bit by bit, music and drinks became staple for the party.

During WWII, the balls were banned. But made it back at the end of the war and have been enjoying a growing success since then. In Paris, lots of balls are held every year, in iconic districts and places in the city.

Where are you going to dance this July 14, then?

Practical information

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