The French Cancan
Le Moulin Rouge (or Red Mill)

Since its inauguration in 1889, the revolutionary Bal du Moulin Rouge has continued to attract the acclaim of local, global, celebrity and, even royal, audiences, not least because it is the birthplace of the French Cancan (or, as it was originally crowned: the ‘Quadrille Realiste’). This notoriously raunchy and highly energetic style of dancing still remains an iconic feature of its cabaret today, but it is not the only enticing lure.

Throughout the past 120 years or so, Le Moulin Rouge has striven to meet the ever changing demands of popular culture, by playing the role of extravagant host to many of the most infamous and prestigious singers, dancers and entertainers to have ever graced the world with their presence. Integrating some of these acts into the cabaret show itself culminates in a glamorous collaboration of music, drama, humor and, of course, shock value.

The inventiveness of this legendary Parisian institution, in turn, can be attributed to its consistent success at expanding services, like the addition of a pre-show dinner from 1959 that is currently prepared by the prominent Maison Dalloyau, which offers a wide choice of champagnes and themed menus such as the Toulouse-Lautrec or Belle Epoque. Major corporate functions, fashion shows, product launches, music videos, charity events and Le Moulin Rouge’s very own store have also been introduced.

We enjoyed an unforgettable experience at the multimillion euro revue of Féerie, which has been running since 1999, but would lead you to presume that it is more of a premiere considering the sheer volume of queues. Interpret the crowds as a good omen though, as you will be in for a real treat once you have been seated in the vast auditorium (redesigned by the fashionable architect Henri Mahe in the late ‘50s), and the renowned troupe of 60 captivating Doriss Girls plus 20 Doriss Dancers, recruited from around the globe, exhibit a stunning display of choreography.

Féerie was conceived by two famous directors of what are generally considered to be the most recognized shows in the world: Doris Haug (the famed Moulin Rouge ballet mistress responsible for the creation of the ‘Doriss Girls’ from only four in 1957) and Ruggero Angeletti.

Just a taster of highlights encompassed within a colossal production such as this include:
*1000 costumes of ‘feathers, rhinestones and sequins’ bought from La Maison Février (but one of the renowned specialist Parisian workshops that have been purchased by the Moulin Rouge in modern times)
*an aquarium containing 40 tons of water (fitted by the current chairman Jacki Clérico in 1962)
* 5 pythons
* 6 horses, and
* the biggest ‘Brigade’ of maître-d’s, head waiters and waiters in France

It is easy in consequence to absorb the lavishness of this setting despite it being a tourist magnet. The acrobatic skating couple were an absolutely enthralling international act that was featured, and broke up the show brilliantly, while ventriloquist Marc Metral was equally entertaining.

This unique cabaret experience is undoubtedly one of Montmartre’s must-see attractions!