Le Moulin Rouge (meaning - The Red Mill) is a very famous cabaret club in the Montmartre area of Paris and is situated on a road called le boulevard de Clichy.
It was opened in 1889 - the same year as the completion of the Eiffel Tower!
The building is recognised by an imitation red windmill on its roof.
In the 1830s a dance known as the cancan first appeared in Parisian cabaret clubs. It was regularly performed at le Moulin Rouge. The cancan is a very energetic and acrobatic dance. It is performed by dancers dressed in frilly skirts who have to kick their legs high, perform cartwheels and the splits. They squeal and screech as they dance.
The word cancan means 'scandalous gossip'. In fact, the dance has always been considered most 'scandalous' because the dancers lift their petticoats and show their legs.
The famous artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painted the dancers and scenes at le Moulin Rouge. The painting below is called La Troupe de Mlle. Eglantine, 1896.
The two most famous cancan dancers were Jane Avril and La Goulue. They were regular performers at le Moulin Rouge.
Below (left) is a photo of La Goulue. Her real name was Louise Weber and she lived from 1866 to 1929. Below (right) is a photo of Jane Avril. Her real name was Jeanne Louise Beaudon and she lived from 1868 till 1943.
The most famous piece of music that is used to accompany the dancing of the cancan was composed by Jacques Offenbach in 1858.
It is called le Galop Infernal and it is from his operetta Orphée aux Enfers - Orpheus in the Underworld.
Click to listen.
A famous singer who regularly performed at le Moulin Rouge was Edith Piaf. She was very small and usually performed wearing a black dress. It was said that she looked like a little sparrow, so she was given the nickname 'La Môme Piaf' which means 'little sparrow' in Parisian slang.
One of the most famous songs performed by Edith Piaf is Je ne regrette rien (I regret nothing).
To listen to the track and to sing along click on the link below: