Kyle On: Shawn Rougeron
Traveling through the city streets of Morocco, French-American nightclub promoter Shawn Rougeron was lost. No, not lost in the physical sense as one would think common when visiting a foreign country. Shawn was lost spiritually, emotionally, creatively.
After attending a wedding on a whim with newfound friends she met in the South of France, Shawn took an impromptu trip to Morocco to flee the financial and emotional ambiguity that awaited her in America. It was there in the marketplace, with vendors shouting to passersby about their products and cobras rising out of baskets solely from the sound of a flute that Shawn sat Indian style across from an old African sage for a palm reading. The old woman closely examined her hand, scrutinizing every crack and wrinkle. After a few moments, she proclaimed that Shawn would return to Los Angeles and fall in love with a French boy and that he would turn her life around.
With newfound confidence, Shawn booked her flight home to California, where oddly enough, her prophecy was fulfilled. And just like that, she found her man and became one quarter of one of the most prominent promoting groups in the current nightlife scene; Circle16.
Shawn’s life was not always so encumbered. As the daughter of a fashion photographer father and model-turned-actress mother, her childhood was anything but destitute. She was born in Cannes before moving to San Diego as a youngster, acquiring a dual citizenship between America and France in the process.
“I have nothing against San Diego and I think it’s great,” she says, “but if I had to choose again, I wouldn’t have picked to live there. For someone as cultured as me, I felt like I was living in a box.”
To escape the box, Shawn would often travel to Los Angeles with a group of equally beautiful friends and explore all the nightlife the city had to offer. Because her parents had traveled to and from the city all her life, she felt comfortable there, like the place was more of a second (or third) home.
Upon graduation from East County High School, Shawn and a friend of hers from the E! Network’s “Sunset Tan” fame moved to Hollywood. There, as a young college student, she continued her habitual nightlife partying and always brought along friends. You know those painfully gorgeous girls that always cut to the front of the line, seemingly just batting their eyelashes at the bouncer to gain entry? That was the group Shawn Rougeron rolled with. She lived the high life. Rich. Pretty. Worry-free. But don’t hate her, yet.
It was around that time that Shawn’s family unexpectedly underwent serious financial hardship and she had to, wait for it…
Joining the leagues of aspiring actresses and models everywhere, Shawn began waiting tables to pay the rent. She persisted to upkeep her lifestyle, her relationships with her friends, and her residence, all the while still a student at Cal State Fullerton.
“I seriously debated whether I should drop out of school or not,” she admits. “It was just becoming too much for me to handle.”
In response to her newfound poverty, Shawn took a leave of absence from college and fled to France for three months to gain perspective and be in the one place where she felt most grounded and like herself. It was there, in the city of lights, where she met Alexandre Benichou, a French-American, like her. The two began a swift romance and moved in together once back in L.A. Benichou, at the time, was a very good club promoter, organizing events for many of the major nightclubs in Hollywood and was always around town working late hours.
“When he saw how unhappy I was with everything, he reached out to me and asked if I had ever thought about promoting. Soon after, we became a team.”
The promoting world was a career that seemed almost tailor-made for Rougeron; she knew how to party, she knew how to attract beautiful, and sometimes famous, friends to clubs, and she knew how to show people a good time. She was a shoe-in, right from the start. L.A. didn’t even stand a chance.
Soon after, Franco Ponce, an associate of Benichou’s, was hired to bring more girls to the clubs, and Driss Ouazzani was added to the team as well. Circle 16 not only has the nightlife business on lockdown, but they are making a name for themselves in a variety of ventures. Benichou has a clothing line appropriately called “French Vintage”, the group is sinking their teeth into a luxury car rental company, and Shawn herself has professional ties with the Rockstar Energy Drink label.
As far as the nightlife world goes though, the Circle 16 kids work for BNG, which stands for Boulevard Nightlife Group, a cutting edge hospitality company that specializes in VIP services, marketing, and promotions to all the clubs in LA that matter (Hemingways, Supperclub, The Roxbury, to name a few). Shawn coined her role within Circle 16 as “the sprinkles on the cupcake” and “the fluffer”; they assign her the clients who need a lot of attention so she can provide that gentle, womanly touch. And her touch, has worked. Many high profile clients, or those booking tables at the venues, seek out Rougeron and Circle 16 to find out where to go and to secure those oh-so-hard-to-get tables at the hotspots.
“I have an advantage because I’m the only girl in the group,” she went on. “I’m like the mom. Promoting can be a really tough business.”
Rougeron expanded on the fierce competition that exists between rival promoters, but said that working with a team makes Circle 16 stronger. Benichou and Driss are partner promoters when they work a venue on a night when BNG is sponsoring, and though every contract differs depending on the club, the team usually gets a percentage of the gross sales of the night and a share for doing the actual promotion and organization.
“It’s all competitive, but friendly,” Shawn mentioned. “In the end, we’re all getting paid to party so you can’t take it too seriously.”
And though Shawn and Benichou have gone their separate ways romantically, they still are business partners with a solid foundation. On her break-up she says, “sometimes you just can’t mix business and pleasure with this lifestyle.”
As for what’s next for Shawn, she embraces the cliché of mid-twenties girls everywhere and candidly admits that she wants to fall in love and travel the world. As a recent college grad with her BA in Business with a concentration in entertainment and hospitality, her education is important to her because she knows having a degree is something she can always fall back on.
“I hate stereotypes in L.A. for women,” she explains, “because everyone is either an actress or a model. I’ve done that too, but I’m multitalented and there’s so much more out there.”
Acting and modeling she has indeed partaken in, having worked on low-budget horror films like “Deadly Renovations” and “Piranha 3D.” But Rougeron is a smart girl and adamantly avoids putting all her eggs in one basket. She says she does not want to make a career out of her promoting job, but is eternally thankful for all the opportunities it granted her. Talk about the best part time job, like, ever.
“I definitely was able to pay my tuition,” she smiles.
The next chapter of her life though, she is leaving open to fate and is ready for whatever happens next. One of her best qualities is her open mind and adaptive nature. Being a child jetsetter does that to you.
So who is Shawn Rougeron? Think Paris Hilton meets “Eat Pray Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert, on a quest to change her life all the while rubbing elbows with Europe and L.A.’s crème de la crème.
“I’m not lost, I’m not confused, and I’m not sure what it is next that I’ll be doing, but I will find it and it’ll be perfect.”
*This article was written for Adanai.com