Moulin Rouge

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Coordinates: 48°53′3″N 2°19′56″E / 48.88417°N 2.33222°E / 48.88417; 2.33222

Moulin Rouge (French pronunciation: [mulɛ̃ ʁuʒ], Red Mill) is a cabaret built in 1889 by Joseph Oller, who also owned the Paris Olympia. Close to Montmartre in the Paris red-light district of Pigalle on Boulevard de Clichy in the 18th arrondissement, it is marked by the red windmill on its roof. The closest métro station is Blanche.

The Moulin Rouge is best known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance. Originally introduced as a seductive dance by the courtesans who operated from the site, the can-can dance revue evolved into a form of entertainment of its own and led to the introduction of cabarets across Europe. Today the Moulin Rouge is a tourist destination, offering musical dance entertainment for visitors from around the world. Much of the romance of turn-of-the-century France is still present in the club's decor.



The venue was built in 1889 by Joseph Oller, who also owned the Paris Olympia. In the early days of the Moulin Rouge, courtesans first adapted the can-can, which had hitherto been known as a respectable, working-class party dance, to entertain the male clientele. The dance was usually performed individually, with courtesans moving in an energetic and provocative way in an attempt to seduce potential clients. It was common for them to lift their skirts and reveal their legs, underwear and occasionally the genitals,and as time progressed can-cans seen at the Moulin Rouge became increasingly vulgar and overtly erotic, causing much public outrage.

Later however, with the rising popularity of music hall entertainment in Europe, courtesans were no longer required at the Moulin Rouge and it became a legitimate nightclub. The modern can-can was born as dancers (many of them failed ballet dancers with exceptional skill) were introduced to entertain the guests. The can-can that we recognise today comes directly from this period and, as the vulgarity of the dance lessened, it became renowned for its athletic and acrobatic tricks.

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