The Moulin Rouge, or Red Windmill, is as famous as its counterparts the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum. Made immortal through literature, cinema, and of course, song, this popular cabaret opened for business in 1889 and forever revolutionized the meaning of the word “soiree.”
Better known by it French name, the Moulin Rouge–or “ The First Palace of Women” as its owners Charles Zidler and Joseph Oller often referred to it–was a club exclusively for men, with its voluptuous courtesans delivering suggestive song and dance numbers, including the wonderfully raunchy can-can. With a large windmill adorning the top and a plaster elephant holding a number of private rooms at the rear of the building, the grand cabaret was a sight to behold, tempting men to peek inside and become enamored with the grand flamboyancy of beautiful women dressed in stunning costumes swaying seductively to the musing radiating within its walls. Yet many of these curious men found the sensual spectacle of the Moulin Rouge addictive, such as the famous painter, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec who had a permanent seat reserved at the cabaret. Eventually, the notorious vulgarity of the happenings inside the Moulin Rouge sparked a public outcry that led to the cabaret’s transition from little more than a brothel to an exclusive performing hall for the upper class (who had deep and generous pockets).
Today, the Moulin Rouge is an expensive restaurant/cabaret and its red windmill still stands strong among the neighboring Parisian buildings, drawing both male and female tourists eager to catch remnants of the cabaret’s infamous aura. Although much has changed from 1889 to now, the Moulin Rouge has ensured one constant to be ever present: the can-can. –Nicole Ellul
82, boulevard de Clichy
75018 Paris, France
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