Django: A Life on the Move
Mandolinette, The Zone, 1918

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Django Reinhardt 01

A number of Romani encampments developed around the outer ramparts of Paris’ old fortifications, at Porte de Choisy, Porte d’Italie, Porte de Montreuil and Porte de Clignancourt. All were impoverished, makeshift places, avoided by most Parisians. After years on the road, Django’s mother, Négros, settled her family in the Zone. She occasionally moved her caravan from one encampment to another, and her young family grew up in an extended community, which remained of primary importance to Reinhardt throughout his life. (ChD p.35 / MD p.11)

Bal-musette was the popular dancehall music that Django grew up listening to. Often incorporating waltzes, polkas and tangos, it was played in working-class districts by bands that usually included an accordion and banjo. Mandolinette by Charles Péguri, a polka with a pronounced oom-pah rhythm, was the first musette accordion to be recorded (1913).