The history of the Moulin Rouge: a mythical place where dances and songs transport you to a magical world
After the defeat of Napoleon III during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and the economic depression that followed until 1896, France tries to rebuild itself and heal its wounds by plunging into recklessness, feast and lightness. This new breath which invades the whole of France is mainly felt in Paris, city of all excesses where the euphoria of the period replaces the evils engendered by the war. At that time Europe was experiencing great social, political and economic progress and the momentum of general positivism took precedence over the wounds of the past. In the heart of the French capital, itself in the midst of urbanization and modernization, Parisians from the middle-class bourgeoisie profit from economic progress and are enchanted in cafés, cabarets and concert halls. It’s here Belle Epoque . At the heart of all this popular boiling, butte Montmartre is a real symbol: its concert halls and café-concerts become the sulphurous emblems of Paris during this period full of joy that will last nearly 40 years.
Moulin Rouge, birth of a symbol
It is in this context that the Moulin Rouge opens for the first time, October 6, 1889. Located at the foot of the Butte Montmartre, the cabaret is an immediate success. The vision of the two businessmen who run it is a hit: Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler know the tips of the fingers of the Parisians and want to make this place the real headquarters of the city’s biggest night owls. . The public is at the rendezvous. The bourgeois in search of debauchery go there to tinker with the girls of joy. As for painters and writers, they get drunk in the exhilarating atmosphere of this cabaret to inspire what will become their most beautiful works.
The decor of the cabaret is recognizable among a thousand others: a mill with wide moving wings, entirely painted in red, decorated with a miller and a miller who seem to exchange a complicit glance at the windows. Inside, the revelers discover a huge dance floor with a small stage. The walls are covered with mirrors reflecting the dim lights escaping from the large chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Behind the mill hides a garden planned for the beautiful days and in which stands an enormous elephant in life-size plaster, coming from the universal exhibition of 1889. Inside the animal, a belly dancer makes turn the heads of guests soaked. Straight out of the imagination of French painter and caricaturist Adolphe Léon Willette, the decor is totally revolutionary for the time. No other place is like the Moulin Rouge and the triumph is monumental.
Frills and dancers
Temple of celebration and dance, the Moulin Rouge recruits the most famous dancers of the time. But it is a dance, called the Quadrille and created in 1850 by a dancer of Bal Mabille , Celeste Mogador , which will give rise to the birth of the most famous step of Parisian dance, the French Cancan . On the wild rhythms of Jacques Offenbach, the dancers of Quadrille are already losing the head to all the bourgeois of the city. But it’s actually on the other side of the Channel, in London, that the French Cancan was invented as we know it. This dance inspired by the Quadrille and improved by the English producer Charles Morton in 1861, creates a real frenzy in the world of dance.
Indecent, jovial and popular, the French Cancan’s popularity is the art of making the splits with a leg up, while lifting his petticoats. Dressed in black stockings, garters, lace and frilly, the dancers of Cancan literally spell the customers of the Moulin Rouge. Many dancers, such as La Goulue, Miss Jenny or Nini Pattes-en-l’air then become the symbols of cabaret and bait the client in search of thrills. The great French painter of the time, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec , will immortalize these colorful dance scenes and nocturnal delirium in some of his now famous works.
The beginnings of the Moulin Rouge
In 1880, businessmen Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler bought the Queen Blanche, a crumbling music hall located in the malfamé district of Pigallein Paris. Many brushstrokes and a total refreshment later, they place a bright red mill on the roof: the Moulin Rouge was born! At the time, the cabaret had a dance floor, an art gallery, a garden, and you could also walk on donkeys! The upper middle class of the time pressed for slum.
The success of the Moulin Rouge
The cabaret owes its success to several elements: a revolutionary architecture, sumptuous decor, themes of evenings where one mixes dance, humor and music, shows inspired by the circus, alluring costumes and the famous “french cancan” which makes its appearance at the beginning of the 20th century! In fact, the Moulin-Rouge troupe has won six world records, including the largest number of leg lifts! Great stars of the music hall will succeed: Mistinguett, Jean Gabin, Edith Piaf, Yves Montand, Line Renaud, etc. It is not for nothing if it is called “the most famous cabaret of the world”! In 1989, a centennial gala was even organized, bringing together celebrities from around the world such as Charles Aznavour, Lauren Bacall, Ray Charles, Tony Curtis, Ella Fitzgerald, Barbara Hendricks.
A revolutionary room architecture, sumptuous decor sticking to the style of the time, themes of evenings where festivities and humor intermingled wonderfully: fairy shows inspired by the circus, famous attractions like the “Petomane” , costumes alluring but daring that please. This is the craze and the beginning of the long history of the Moulin Rouge! People from all over the world make the trip to admire this legendary place. Bohemians and artists make it their favorite place. Renoir and Lautrec exhibited their greatest works, which earned the Moulin Rouge an international reputation!
A new dance is emerging: the “french cancan” ! Slightly stripped women swaying gracefully on the track: this is the beginning of the first “reviews”. The success is at its height the first ten years, but will decline suddenly, during a show that will shock the manners of the time: “Quat’zarts” . It was in 1902that the hour of the last balloon struck! Directed Cleopatra naked by four men with virile girls equally naked. It was the scene of too much!
The following year will mark a turning point in the history of the Moulin Rouge! Major works were undertaken by the famous architect Niermans ; creator of the “Casino de Paris”, “Folies Bergères” and other popular places of the Belle Epoque. Until the First World War the Moulin Rouge was the “cabaret dinner-show temple”, a great first! The spectators were there to laugh and be moved by the best known magazines like “Voluptata”, the “Leaf of Vine”, the “Dream of Egypt”, or “Shut up you flabbergasted me” A real treat for the public, totally conquered.
1907: the “Mistinguett” years in “La Revue de la Femme”. A lady of character, singer and comic actress with poignant repartee! His talent seduces the spectators unanimously!
The history of the Moulin Rouge today
Today, this place full of stories makes the world dream and remains synonymous with charm and fairy-tale “French”. Strass, sequins, feathers, sets, dancers, everything is there to amaze the audience. Did you know ? The Moulin Rouge is the largest champagne customer in the world, with more than 350,000 bottles consumed per year!
The Moulin Rouge is still and again more beautiful and refined magazines, rhinestones and sequins, feathers, decorations always more crazy and girls all more surprising than the others. His magic operates on the whole world.
It is close to this mythical place full of history and magic that the whole team of the Cloche d’Or awaits you to offer you a 100% Frenchy dinner, just like this neighborhood and this atmosphere so much Parisian!
The origin of the french cancan
In the 19th century, couples danced the corner-corner that was also called cancan. In duet, the choreography had the particularity of showing the frous-frous women, hidden under long dresses. But the cancan is really a place thanks to Celeste Mogador, the star of Bal Mabille, who puts the cancan on the front of the stage by hiring acrobatic dancers and daring, alluring outfits to entertain the whole Paris.
On the other side of the Channel, the producer Charles Morton imports the dance that he calls French Cancan and which takes Offenbach’s tunes that are not to displease, while bringing a liberated image of the French girl of the time. But back to France, where the cancan becomes the star dance of the best Parisian cabarets: the Moulin Rouge, the Folies Bergères … Painters make it a theme of reflection and La Goulue or Valentin the Boneless are the pictorial heroes of the painters of Montmartre, including Toulouse Lautrec. This Parisian dance also inspired Jean Renoir for his famous eponymous film where Jean Gabin and Françoise Arnoul hold the top of the bill.
Dancers and dancers become famous, the Goulue, Miss Jenny, Grid, Serpolette, Nini Paws-in-the-Air who will open a school of Cancan, The Cheese Cheese, Valentine’s Boned, Jane Avril said Jeanne the Mad. Artists find their inspiration, especially Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, who immortalize these colorful scenes and dancers, especially La Goulue. La Goulue, whose real name is Louise Weber, was born in Clichy-la-Garenne on July 13, 1866, in a Jewish family in Alsace. His mother ran a laundry in Clichy.
The little story says that she borrowed the clothes of the clients for her outings.Dancing in small suburban dances, Louise Weber quickly became a part of her mentor, Charles Desteuque, a popular personality, loved both for her dancing skills and for her charming, daring attitude. Despres, the brothers Oller and Charles Zidler launched it into the cancan. When she danced the naturalistic quadrille, she teased the male audience by the whirlwind of her skirts with raised ruffles that showed her panties, and tiptoe, she was flying a hat of a man. Her first mentor and her habit of emptying clients’ glasses while she was at their tables earned her the nickname ” La Goulue “.
In 1893, she was the first star to inaugurate the Olympia stage, founded by Joseph Oller. She is, in a way, the show godmother of all the stars who will eventually follow in her footsteps. At the Jardin de Paris, she attacked the Prince of Wales, future Edward VII: ” Hey, Wales! You pay champagne! Is it you who is enjoying, or is your mother inviting? When she rented a sumptuous mansion on Avenue des Champs-Elysees, she was the best-paid star of her time.
La Goulue arriving at the Moulin Rouge Rich and famous, in 1895 she decided to leave the Moulin Rouge and In Montmartre, she met Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who introduced him into a group of models who earned extra money by posing for artists and photographers. Achille Delmaet, companion of Marie-Juliette Louvet, who became famous later, made many nudes-photos of Goulue .
On April 6, she commissioned her friend Lautrec with decorative panels to decorate her dancer’s house. In December 1895, she gave birth to a son, Simon Victor, of unknown father (“a prince,” she said). A modest fairground adopted it and gave it its name. In 1898 she performed with Adrien Pezon who taught him to train the lions.
In 1900, at the town hall of the eighteenth arrondissement of Paris, La Goulue married the magician Joseph-Nicolas Droxler (born in Paris on March 24, 1872, domiciled rue de Belfort in Paris). He became a tamer. The couple lived at 112 Boulevard Rochechouart (18th arrondissement).
Every evening dancers perform on the stage of the cabaret, more or less bare, in front of people of all ranks drinking alcohol: counts, bourgeois, as men of small jobs. It is in these circumstances that the famous dance of Cancan develops in this place. Many intellectuals rub shoulders at the Moulin Rouge which becomes a real reference for artists. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec , captivated by the district of Montmartre, regularly goes to the cabaret to make paintings there: he even had a table reserved for him. He left an important collection of paintings depicting scenes of life at the Moulin Rouge.
The architecture of the building was eccentric, mixing all cultures, allowing everyone to recognize themselves.