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Paris Cabarets- Moulin Rouge-1

Paris Cabarets- Moulin Rouge-1

The Moulin Rouge has been throwing a wild party for Paris and the whole world since 6 October 1889 and is celebrating this year its 120th anniversary ! Immortalized by the painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, made world famous by its saucy French Cancan, the Moulin Rouge as it is, Ladies and Gentlemen !


Moulin Rouge



International stars such as Ella Fitzgerald, Liza Minnelli, Frank Sinatra, Elton John etc. have given exceptional galas just like their French counterparts Maurice Chevalier, Jean Gabin, Edith Piaf or Yves Montand. Millions of spectators have been left spellbound under the magic of Moulin Rouge for the past 120 years.



Moulin Rouge was founded on 6 October 1889 by the partners Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler, an ace duo who wanted this establishment on the Place Blanche to become “the foremost shrine to women and the grandest of temples to the dance.” Their vision has been held true to date even as Moulin Rouge survived the two world wars and a serious fire in 1915 which needed nearly 7 years of works to restore the beauty of this indomitable Parisian monument.


French Cancan

The 6th of October 1889, the Moulin Rouge opened its doors and welcomed for the first time on stage some young girls who performed a very different dance from the others : 'the Quadrille'. Revolutionary movements, screams, boisterous rythm … frills and flowing skirts were lifted to show the young dancers’ legs and reveal their panties. Most of the time, the dancers were “amateurs”, who by day were mainly washerwomen, linen maids, laundresses, seamstresses, and who transformed themselves into 'Quadrille' dancers at night.


 French cancan   

This new dance was an immediate success in attracting the crowds from middle-class people to princes, from artists to writers- they all came for a little fun ! Two years later, the 'Quadrille' was still fashionable and spread abroad, to the other side of the Channel. A British subject named Charles Morton decided to change the name of the dance and call it “French Cancan”, A funny dance that makes a lot of noise and comes from France ! Many lady dancers with suggestive names became famous : la Goulue (the glutton) - the Toulouse-Lautrec’s muse - Nini Pattes-en-l’Air (a leg-over), Grille d’Egout (drain cover), la Môme Fromage (kid cheese). 



Dancing the French Cancan is not possible for everyone ! For this dance requires specific qualities both artistic and physical. A training period of five weeks is necessary for every new girl and the rehearsals are very frequent. The Moulin Rouge’s French Cancan is famous and reclaimed world-wide. Be it for the Cannes Festival, Hollywood or even Hong Kong, the Carnival of Rio, Sydney, the troupe of Cancan dancers never hesitates to cross the frontiers to represent the Moulin Rouge and Paris.


Story of the Doris Girls

The name of troupe 'Doriss Girls' comes from a little girl from Germany who was taking dancing lessons without her parents’ knowledge and who became Miss Doris, the Moulin Rouge’s famous ballet mistress. Between the Karlshsruhe Opera and the Conservatory, she passed her diploma as a dance teacher and arrived in Paris, where the cabarets attracted her. Miss Doris created her own troupe of dancers, named the “Doriss Girls”. There were 4 dancers to begin with. Jacki Clérico, the owner of Moulin Rouge in 1961 recognized the qualities and potential of Miss Doris to create a great revue. Miss Doris and
Ruggero Angeletti together choreographed great revues that were to follow.


In the sixties, Jacki Clérico, the then owner, decided to bring the grand revues at the Moulin Rouge up to date. It began with 'Frou-frou' that was followed by 'Frisson' two years down the line. Both these shows enjoyed great success with Public. This made way for more reveues such as 'Fascination', 'Fantastic', 'Festival', 'Follement', 'Frénésie', 'Femmes Femmes Femmes', and 'Formidable'.


The fixation with letter 'F' for all the revues is a tradition specific to the Moulin Rouge for whom it symbolizes a token of luck. Not to mention that it is also a reference and a homage to women -glamorous women, refined women and seductive women with a touch of impertinence! The ongoing revue 'Féerie' is no exception to this rule. Over a period of more than a century of bringing sumptuous shows to its spectators such as Valentin-le-Désossé and la Goulue’s Quadrille to the Redoutes and Operettas, from Colette to Mistinguett‘s great revues …the concept is still the same at the Moulin Rouge : feathers, rhinestones and sequins, fabulous settings, original music and of course…the most beautiful girls in the world !

 Moulin Rouge - Final Féerie


Moulin Rouge

82, Boulevard de Clichy - 75018 Paris
Metro: Blanche (Line 2)
Bus: 30, 54, 68, 74


Readers will be able to enjoy Moulin Rouge 2 of this article shortly that will talk about the current revue Féerie, some behind the scene statistics, the dancers' fitness and dance regimen, the restaurant and other details that make Moulin Rouge an institution of its own- a French symbol of frivolity taken to artistic heights ! Read also Moulin Rouge 3.


photos: Moulin Rouge Façade & Final Féerie (c) Moulin Rouge (r) J.Habas. French Cancan (c) J. Serur Yedid