Famous throughout the world for its wild French cancan, the cabaret was created in 1889 by Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler, who already owned the Olympia music hall. To boost their venture, the duo fitted the rustic scene of the “bal de la reine Blanche” with a false windmill, complete with turning sails and bright lights. In the garden stood an enormous stucco elephant in which belly dancing shows were held.
Parisians in search of frivolity flocked to the Boulevard de Clichy. There, under colourful and often saucy stage names – Grille d’Egout, la Môme Fromage, Nini Pattes-en-l’Air – the most famous cabaret dancers of the day vied to outshine each other. Their most loyal admirer was the painter, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec who immortalised the period. Seventeen of his works are inspired by the cabaret and by the dancer, la Goulue, famous for her cheeky humour.
From 1903, the shows began to resemble music hall acts. In 1925, “Ça c’est Paris” starred Mistinguett and was a triumph.
Beyond France, the Moulin Rouge is still a symbol for the Parisian party mood. And the fact is that it’s also one of the biggest champagne customers in the world. Around 240,000 bottles are quaffed here every year.
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