Teen spirit: The 'Skins' sensation sweeping France

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The Channel 4 teen drama isn't just a cult show in France – it has inspired a wild party scene.

Traditionally, the French are meant to turn an unimpressed Gallic nose up at the paltry British sex life. They are the romantically, erotically inclined ones, so it goes, their British cousins fumbling and frigid. How curious, then, to find a new generation of French people looking across the Channel for amorous inspiration.

French teenagers are embracing free love and organising their own large-scale parties at which drink and drugs flow freely, the dancefloor is for kissing, and the garden is an overflow boudoir for when things get extra-steamy.

But here's the strange part: the partygoers aren't just indulging in regular, hormonally-charged hedonism. They're paying homage to a group of fictional British teens.

"Le Skins parties" are organised by French fans of Skins, the Channel 4 series about misbehaving adolescents. First shown in the UK in 2007, its representation of sixth-form students' wild parties quickly became popular across the channel.

Photographer Claudine Doury glimpsed inside a Skins party in a Parisian suburb earlier this year, and these pictures are her record of that night. Entry cost 20 euros, 10 if you brought a bottle, and there were plenty of drugs on the menu, too. But the parties are also scrupulously organised; a security guard is hired to keep an eye on anyone who's overdone it and to keep away undesirables.

"This young guy's parents had gone away, and he invited three or four hundred people on Facebook to a party in his house," says Doury. "They were all between 16 and 18 – the oldest was 20."

Doury describes scenes of sexual abandon. Delighted young men ask a girl if they can kiss her, and she usually says yes. If things progress, they head to the garden, where bodies sprawl across the grass.

But surely drinking, drug-taking and snogging are teenage party staples? So what's unusual about a Skins party? And why do French teens need British TV to show them how to misbehave?

"To be so free is special," insists Doury. "The most incredible thing was people being sexual in front of everybody – you didn't see too much though, because the security guard would ask them to go out into the garden. It's completely free: 'no limits, no limits', they're always saying.

"The freedom is inspired by the TV show. The foreignness of the series is very fashionable and attractive to French teenagers."

The influence of the TV show can also be seen in guests' outfits. Mimicking a scene from the series, dancers don masks, preserving a degree of anonymity that perhaps makes total abandon a little easier.

But while Doury says that most partygoers "like to hide themselves", there's also plenty of flesh on show. Some girls wear just knickers – Doury snapped an appropriately Union Jack-patterned pair – and flimsy dresses are popular. "It was very practical: they know what to wear so they are not completely naked, but so they can touch each other."

While Skins parties have gone official – you can pay to go to them in clubs, or even on a boat on the Seine – the most popular is the old-school house party. "They all prefer parties in a family house, because you can smoke inside and drink underage," says Doury. The homeowners, she says, usually have no idea they've played host, and organisers put up special material on the walls or even repaint them afterwards. Although the aim isn't total destruction of the venue, things often get messy.

Skins parties have occurred in the UK too – one family home reportedly suffered £25,000 of damage after a Skins-themed event. But the trend didn't take off in quite the same way that it has done in France. Maybe British teenagers take a more sceptical view of on-screen antics (Skins is routinely defended with the argument that it's just entertainment, rather than a realistic portrayal of youngsters' lifestyles). Or maybe the tables have turned – and it's now the French taking their sexual cues from the Brits. Well, in the rarefied land of teenagerdom at least.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent