A Dive Into Moulin Rouge History

By Swanzal Aurora

Since its opening in the 19th century, the Moulin Rouge has stood as a symbol of glamor and entertainment in Paris.

This iconic cabaret, marked by its red windmill, played a major role in shaping Paris’s cultural scene. 

It remains a testament to the city’s artistic flair.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Moulin Rouge‘s history and its evolution. 

1. Birth of the Moulin Rouge (1889)

The Moulin Rouge, meaning the “Red Mill,” first opened in Paris in 1889.

Joseph Oller, an entrepreneur and Charles Zidler, a showman were its co-founders.

The cabaret opened in the lively district of Montmartre.

Oller and Zidler wanted a space that blended music, dance, and charm. 

They created a revolutionary form of entertainment that would attract the masses.

2. La Belle Époque and the Golden Age (1890s-1900s)

The Moulin Rouge became synonymous with La Belle Époque.

It was a period known for its optimism and cultural growth.

The cabaret’s nightly shows had can-can dancers, live music, and beautiful costumes.

It attracted a diverse audience, including Parisian socialites, artists, and tourists. 

The famous can-can dance and other cabaret dances gained popularity.

They became the signature element of Moulin Rouge performances.

Moulin Rouge’s tickets sell out fast! Don’t forget to book your tickets in advance for the mesmerizing shows and dinners.

3. Toulouse-Lautrec’s Artistic Influence (1890s)

The famous painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a regular patron of the Moulin Rouge.

His posters and paintings preserved the cabaret’s essence.

And his unique style captured the spirit and energy of the performers.

This helped Moulin Rouge gain popularity in the art world. 

Toulouse-Lautrec’s work highlights the cabaret’s cultural value. 

4. Moulin Rouge and the World Wars (20th Century)

The first half of the 20th century was challenging for Moulin Rouge as it dealt with the effects of two world wars. 

During World War I, the cabaret continued to thrive as a symbol of resilience and escapism.

It provided a relief for Parisians amidst the chaos. 

In World War II, the cabaret remained partially closed under German occupation. 

It faced restrictions and difficulties but persevered as a resilient cultural institution.

5. Modern Revival and Global Fame (20th Century Onward)

In the latter half of the 20th century the Moulin Rouge revived.

It embraced new artistic influences while keeping its historical charm. 

The cabaret’s fame reached global heights, attracting visitors from around the world.

Today, the Moulin Rouge stands as living proof of the endless charm of Parisian nightlife.

It continues to host performances that pay homage to its rich history.

Facts about the Moulin Rouge 

1. Historic Charm: The Moulin Rouge, founded in 1889, charms visitors with its rich history and vibrant Belle Époque legacy.

2. Spectacular Cabaret Shows: Renowned for extravagant performances, Moulin Rouge dazzles audiences with high-energy dance routines and elaborate costumes.

3. Parisian Landmark: As an iconic Parisian attraction, Moulin Rouge draws global tourists seeking cultural experiences and vibrant nightlife.

4. Film Fame: Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge!” (2001), starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, catapulted the cabaret into cinematic stardom.

5. Architectural Icon: The distinctive red windmill on top of the Moulin Rouge makes it a visual architectural marvel in Montmartre.

6. Cultural Influence: Moulin Rouge’s profound impact on art, fashion, and popular culture inspires creatives globally.

7. Ongoing Allure: Continuously enchanting audiences, Moulin Rouge remains a vibrant hub, offering current shows and unforgettable experiences in modern-day Paris

Moulin Rouge Fun Facts

1. Swarovski crystals

The wardrobe department at Moulin Rouge has around 1000 garments that have Swarovski crystals on them. These crystals enhance the visual impact of the performances.

2. Champagne consumption

At the Moulin Rouge, there is a large consumption of champagne. According to some sources, it is 1000 bottles per night, whereas some state that it is 240,000 bottles per year. 

3. Dancers changing costumes

The dancers at the Moulin Rouge are known for their quick costume changes. Often it only takes 30 seconds for them to change between acts. This comes after years of practice and precise choreography.

4. Elephant monument

The Moulin Rouge once had a large elephant monument in its yard. The monument is no longer in its original location. It now inhabits the bar and reception area.

5. Moulin Rouge fire and reconstruction

The original Moulin Rouge building was tragically destroyed by fire in 1915. However, it was rebuilt shortly after. The iconic red windmill was added during the reconstruction process. This windmill has become a beloved symbol of the cabaret and its everlasting charm.

Featured Image: Moulinrouge.fr

About the author

Swanzal Aurora is an avid traveler who seeks out thrills and lives a simple, peaceful life. Bright clear skies are her calling.