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Moulin Rouge, Paris, France

You can hardly find someone who hasn't heard about the famous Moulin Rouge (Red Mill - translation from French). Many people know it owing to homonymous film telling about the unfortunate love story of a dancer and a poor novelist. In fact this place was a tenement of lust and carnality, not that romantic love shown in the film.

It all started on 6 November 1889 when Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler opened a new cabaret dedicated to the end of Eiffel tower construction and opening of International Expo in Paris. Very soon "dropping in at Moulin Rouge" talked much about one's prestige. Any type of people could be found here: artists, robbers, prostitutes, aristocrats... The owners of the cabaret easily enticed the best dancers from other cabarets: only the nicknames of the dancers were quite promising: la Goulue (Glutton), Ray d'Ore (Golden Ray), Nini Pattes en l'Air (Nini-legs up), le Desosse (Boneless). French can-can was born here (quadrille named so by the English), which was the most sensual and defiant dance. One of the most famous can-can dancers of that time Margarite Rigolboche once said: "In order to dance can-can one must have a special temperament, an outstanding spirit, you can never dance it just according to instructions, you must imagine, create. Can-can is the madness of legs".

Crazy scenes from Moulin Rouge are now famous thanks to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec who used to spend every evening in the cabaret watching the dancers and making sketches.

It is said that stripping also was "founded" here but it's not quite right. In the summer of 1893 students of art schools were celebrating their graduation, and two tipsy young ladies started dancing on the tables and got absolutely undressed. Actually it was something quite extraordinary for those times. The real Moulin Rouge dancers used to show only the naked part of their leg between hose and panties, letting the visitors to imagine as they like.

In 1915 Moulin Rouge closed down and reopened only in 1921. Since 1962 the manager of the club has been Jacki Clerico. First-row stars counted themselves honored to sing in Moulin Rouge - Liza Minnelli, Frank Sinatra, and Ginger Rogers. On the 90th anniversary of Moulin Rouge Charles Aznavour and Jerry Lewis performed here.

This is Moulin Rouge: the symbol of crashed and fulfilled dreams, broken and connected hearts, art and lust, beauty and outrage...

By Sona Gasparian,



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