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An Exotic History: The Windmill Theatre

Named after a windmill that had once stood at the same site, The Windmill Theatre first opened in London as a small playhouse, replacing Britain’s first art house cinema, the Palais de Luxe.

Laura Henderson, the widowed wife of a wealthy merchant, bought the Palais de Luxe in 1930. Mrs. Henderson and her theatre manager, Vivian Van Damm, decided to use the venue as a variety house with non-stop performances, and their show ‘Revudeville’ was an immediate success. The public flocked to the theatre to see the new productions, which ran from the afternoon until late into the night.

Despite its initial popularity, Revuedeville’s profitability declined, and the theatre lost £20,000 in its first few years of operation. In an effort to reinvent the theatre, Van Damm began to incorporate glamorous nude females on stage, inspired by the Folies Bergère and Moulin Rouge.

The influence of Parisian debauchery was tentatively received by the licensing and theatre censorship authorities in London, and was only allowed under the condition that the women remained absolutely still for the duration of the performances. Should the models have moved a muscle, the theatre would have been closed down.

Mermaids, Red Indians and Britannia-themed costumes filled the stage, and movement was eventually introduced with the incorporation of fan dancing. A naked female model was concealed by feather fans held by her and four other female attendants, and at the end of the act her attendants removed the concealing fans. The model would then hold the pose for approximately ten seconds before the close of the performance.

The Windmill Theatre was the only entertainment venue to remain open throughout World War II, and performers often slept in the theatre during the worst periods of bombing. This historic venue and its unique brand of sensual entertainment has grown and transformed with the times, taking on a modern approach. These days, The Windmill International operates as a gentleman’s club, featuring both nude stage shows and tabletop dancers.
Sexy Womanh hold hands and fingers on legs in fishnet stocking posing

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A Exotic History: The Moulin Rouge

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.

Sexy Womanh hold hands and fingers on legs in fishnet stocking posing

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Paid To Dance: Researching An Exotic History

The earliest evidence of exotic dance can be traced back twenty thousand years to Palaeolithic cave paintings in the south of France, and proof has also been found by archaeologists near the Black Sea regions of Bulgaria and Romania.

It is thought to hold its origins in ancient rituals associated with fertility, not only for motherhood but also agriculture and farming. During the height of the Roman Empire and Ancient Greece, priestesses performed in sacred temples, and this practice was also commonplace in India. Exotic dance even makes an appearance in the Bible, where Salome seductively performs the Dance of the Seven Veils for the guests of Kind Herod’s birthday celebrations.

During the 12th Century, belly dancing captivated voyeurs throughout the Middle East. While the performers did not remove their garments, vigorous movements of the hips and pelvis entranced the audience, who in turn tossed coins to the dancers as a gesture of their admiration.

From the Far East to the West, from ancient ritual to modern-day table dancing, striptease continues to enchant audiences around the world, providing a pathway to financial independence.

Sexy Womanh hold hands and fingers on legs in fishnet stocking posing

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