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Moulin Rouge in Paris France

Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge is French for Red Mill or windmill and is a traditional cabaret, built in 1889 by Joseph Oller, who already owned the Paris Olympia and has become the most famous cabaret in the world since this date.

The Moulin Rouge is situated in the red-light district of Pigalle on Boulevard de Clichy, which is in the 18th arrondissement near Montmartre in Paris.

Moulin Rouge Paris

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Moulin Rouge in Paris France

France and can be instantly recognised by the large red imitation windmill on its roof of the Moulin Rouge.

Over the past hundred years, the Moulin Rouge has remained a popular tourist destination, offering musical dance entertainment for adult visitors from around the world and much of the romance from turn-of-the-century France is still present in the club's decor.

Thanks to its French Cancan, which was immortalised by the painter Toulouse-Lautrec, the Moulin Rouge has always presented sumptuous shows to its spectators and even today the concept is still the same, as the Moulin Rouge has the most beautiful girls in the world.

Many international stars have performed on the stage at the Moulin Rouge and these include Ella Fitzgerald, Elton John, Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli.  They have all given exceptional performances, following in the footsteps of French celebrities such as Maurice Chevalier and Edith Piaf.

The Moulin Rouge was also the title of a book by Pierre La Mure, which was adapted in 1952 into a film called Moulin Rouge, and starred Jose Ferrer and Zsa-Zsa Gabor.  Several other films have had the same title, including 2001's Moulin Rouge!, which starred Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman and both the 1952 and 2001 films were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Can-Can at the Moulin Rouge

The most poignant feature of an evening at the Moulin Rouge is the nightly cabaret performance.

The Moulin Rouge is internationally famous as the home of the traditional French Can-Can, which is still performed there today.

Whilst the dance of the can-can had existed for many years as a respectable, working-class party dance, it was in the early days of the Moulin Rouge, when courtesans first adapted the dance to entertain the male clientele.

It was usually performed individually, with the courtesan moving in an increasingly energetic and provocative way in an attempt to seduce a potential client.  It was very common for them to lift their skirts and reveal their legs, underwear and occasionally the genitals and as time progressed, the can-cans seen at the Moulin Rouge, became more and more vulgar and overtly erotic, causing much public outrage.

Later however, with the rising popularity of music hall entertainment in Europe, courtesans were no longer 'required' at the Moulin Rouge and it became a legitimate nightclub. 

The modern can-can was born as dancers were introduced to entertain the guests, many of them failed ballet dancers with exceptional skill.

The can-can that we recognise today comes directly from this period and as the vulgarity of the dance lessened, it became known for its athletic and acrobatic tricks.

Also, by this time the Moulin Rouge had lost much of its former reputation as a high-class brothel and became a fashionable place for the very best in French society to visit and see the spectacular cabarets, which have included a traditional French can-can ever since.

The can-can dance is recognisable for the long skirts with heavily frilled undergarments that the dancers wear, high kicks, splits, cartwheels, hops in a circle whilst holding the other leg in the air, and other acrobatic tricks, normally accompanied by squeals and shrieks.

And as the dance became respected, it became less and less crude, but the choreography is always intended to be a little risque at times and somewhat provocative and a little naughty.

Today, the Can-Can performed at the Moulin Rouge has iconic status in dance throughout the World and in France, the Moulin Rouge and the dance that made it famous are regarded with great respect as part of the French cultural heritage.


Moulin Rouge in Paris France



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