The second industrial revolution saw a time of frivolity unfolding in Paris. With electricity being rolled out across the city, cabarets like ‘Le Chat Noir’, ‘Le Miriton’ and ‘Les Folies Bergères’ were established and offered a place for aristocrats and workers alike to relax and enjoy themselves.
These venues generally settled in Montmartre, at the centre of Parisian nightlife. Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler chose the name ‘Moulin Rouge’, meaning ‘Red Mill’, for their new theatre. They also gave the nickname ‘Le Premier Palais des Femmes’, meaning ‘The First Palace of Women’.
The two founders claimed that the Moulin Rouge would soon become ‘a temple of music and dance’.
The Moulin Rouge featured circus acts, theatre and musical performances, with attractive dancing girls and tableaux vivants. Tableaux vivants- meaning ‘living picture’- were a group of stage models thoughtfully posed and theatrically lit. Throughout the duration of the display, the models did not move or speak, and their presence on stage was intended to imitate art.
The Moulin Rouge quickly gained a reputation for being a place where men could view young Parisian girls with unique and amazing dance skills, most notably the famous Can Can. A French term meaning ‘tittle-tattle’ or ‘scandal’, the Can Can dance became an opportunity to undermine Victorian-era morality, and was part of a growing movement for change.
Paris oozes sex, glamour, indulgence and hedonism, and to this day the area of Pigalle continues to uphold the city’s raunchy reputation. Once a bohemian neighborhood of painter’s studios and literary cafés, today Pigalle plays host to many sex shops, theatres and adult shows on Place Pigalle and the main boulevards. Adult stores proudly flaunt their wares in large window displays, and exotic dancers greet potential customers at the entrance of their clubs.
The Moulin Rouge continues to run a nightly show for adult audiences featuring more than one hundred performers and extravagant costumes laden with feathers, rhinestones, and sequins.
Paid To Dance: Asha’s Story Part Two is available now for pre-order for release on July 20, 2018.