Francis Dumaurier, in August 2019, 50 years after Woodstock.
Francis Dumaurier, in August 2019, 50 years after Woodstock.

" It was a big and happy brothel ". Smile to the lips, the 72-year-old French actor Francis Dumaurier remembers the Woodstock festival, which was held from August 15 to 18, 1969 in Bethel, New York. Outstanding solo by Jimi Hendrix. Who's crazy riffs. And in the raucous voice of Janis Joplin, in front of an ecstatic crowd of half a million people. Three days of "sex drugs and rock'n roll" that ignited the summer of 69 in the United States.

If the festival is now a legend, few French people participated. " It was not too much to cross the Atlantic at the time: it was very expensive and you had to know the world on the spot "Says Francis Dumaurier. Determined to discover the country of rock'n'roll, the young man still finds a charter flight from Belgium, and goes on an adventure with $ 200 in his pocket, without a specific plan.

A nice chance

Because the festival of Woodstock remains very mediatized in the Hexagon. And the French people have often landed there thanks to word of mouth. " I heard about it at a bus stop in New York ", Says Nicole Devilaine. In August 1969, the young woman has just won a plane ticket to the United States through the University of Lyon. When young hippies met on the spot offer to accompany them to a festival for the weekend, she does not think that Woodstock will " Mark history ".

A personal turning point

But in addition to being a historic turning point, Woodstock is for many a personal turning point. " Woodstock was a rebirth for me: the beginning of my life as an expat ' Says Francis Dumaurier. " It made me want to test everything. A bit like the hymn of Jimi Hendrix, "I want to know about the new mother" "(Ed .: from the title" Up from the Skies "). Shortly thereafter, Francis Dumaurier became guide in the Amazon jungle before working for five years in Rio de Janeiro, in the travel sector. From there, he decides to return to New York – where he still lives – to practice acting.

Francis Dumaurier in San Francisco in December 1969.

" I already wanted to settle in the United States, but Woodstock fueled my desire for expatriation. It was the idea that in America everything was allowed ", Adds Nicole Devilaine – who put a foot in the world of music and cinema before leading the office of FranceTélévisions in the United States for several years.

Rock'n'roll as a common language

Few, however, the Woodstock French did not feel at odds. " There were young people from all over the world Remark Nicole Devilaine, who went to the festival with young Belgians and South Americans. For Francis Dumaurier, Woodstock embodied a desire to open the territorial and spiritual boundaries of the younger generation: " There were no nationalities. This music was our global communication. Rock'n roll, our common language.

With the election of Trump, the clash of identities and racist shootings – like in El Paso (Texas) this month -, " the spirit of Woodstock seems to evaporate ", Regrets Francis Dumaurier. While the festival is included in the story book of his niece, but he fears that this key date has become an empty shell. " Hope this is not a point of no return, slips Nicole Devilaine. There is still an America like that, although it is not preponderant ".


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