Behind the scenes at the Moulin Rouge: history and know-how

The Moulin Rouge was opened in 1889 and has not aged since. His success and charm so Frenchy have not wavered over the years, quite the contrary! It is a historic site with an incredible soul and a lot of emotion. And not just at night!

I discovered the Moulin Rouge by day, when the Moulin Rouge is sleeping… There is a unique indescribable atmosphere.

All I have to do now is offer myself the opportunity to get to know the two faces of the Moulin Rouge.

The show is called “Revue” and it’s the same one that has been happening for 17 years ! For all these years, the Revue has not run out of steam, since the Moulin is full every evening of the week without exception ! The revue has been reproducing itself over and over again for 17 years without ever tiring visitors, it is still an extraordinary artistic performance.

The Moulin Rouge and its French Cancan have become mythical, it must be said.

So I take you in the backstage to discover its secrets, its magical atmosphere and the skills that contribute to such a success.

First of all, a little history….

In the beginning, the dancers danced among the clients.

The richer you were and the closer you were to the artists, the poorer you were, the further back you were.

The Moulin Rouge was a great success from the beginning for two main reasons :

1- There was a strong social mix : everyone could go to the Moulin Rouge. We found the nobility, the bourgeoisie, as well as the workers’ circles.

The address was not reserved for men. You would come with your wife or lover, or at least you would come with someone else.

2- The Moulin Rouge was made famous in 1891 thanks to Toulouse Lautrec and its famous advertising poster

When the Moulin Rouge opened, the creators called on a dancer they had spotted a little further away at the Elysée Montmartre, called La Goulue. This woman had an incredible personality and her friend is the painter Toulouse Lautrec… He immediately fell in love with the place. The creators of the Moulin then asked him to create the first advertising poster.

The poster will be placed on all the walls of Paris and will cause a scandal because it represents La Goulue lifting her skirt to show her panties.

This poster will make the Moulin Rouge famous but also its author at the same time.

The Moulin Rouge burned in 1915 and was reborn from the ashes in 1929, in the same place in the same building. The room is transformed into a theatre with seats and sets.

We call upon the queen of the Music Hall who was at the Casino de Paris : Mistinguette. She remained there until 1939.

During the 1950s, the greatest artists of the time came to perform on the stage.

At the end of the 1950s, the new owner wanted to restore the Moulin’s reputation by recreating Revues as in the days of Mistinguette. The first Revue “Froufrou” was a great success, so by superstition, the owner decided to name all the following ones with titles starting in F. Today, the last review of 1957 still takes place.

The secret of such a performance can also be explained by the know-how on which the Moulin Rouge is based. Two main crafts contribute to its success :

Shoemaker/bootmaker : Maison Clairvoy is the official shoemaker of the Moulin Rouge. They produce all custom-made dance shoes, in accordance with the rules of the art. It is necessary to follow 250 manual steps to create a shoe in a traditional way.

Plumber : The Maison Février, whose workshop is located in the heart of the Moulin, is in charge of all the feather costumes. Everything is done by hand. A single suit can represent up to 200 hours of manual work.

And you, do you know the Moulin Rouge and French Cancan ? Did you ever go there watch a show ?

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Loren Fascianel
Personal Stylist & Coach
My name is Loren. I grew up in Paris, France.…
Elisabeth Kounou
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I'm Elisabeth. I am French. I was born in Cameroon,…