6 October 1889: Le Moulin Rouge opens its doors

On this day in 1889, Le Moulin Rouge cabaret club first opened in Paris during the Belle Époque era.

The Belle Epoque was a time of great excitement in Paris. The French capital had put the humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 behind it, and looked forward to the coming 20th century with a renewed sense of optimism.

Meanwhile, the industrial revolution steamed ahead. New and exciting technological innovations began to appear, for example in photography and film. Not to be left behind, painting and music also flourished, with Toulouse-Lautrec in the vanguard of the post-impressionist art movement.

In 1889, Paris basked in the limelight. That year the Exposition Universelle was held in the city, focusing the world's attention on the scientific and cultural achievements of France. Nothing was more emblematic of this huge swell of Gallic pride than the erection of the Eiffel Tower – the tallest structure in the world until 1930.

But the Eiffel Tower wasn't the only offspring of the Belle Epoque. Not far away, on the evening of 6 October, a brand new music hall was making ready to open its doors for the first time on the fashionable Boulevard de Clichy – Le Moulin Rouge.

“The public came to discover this extravagant place with its huge dance floor, mirrors everywhere, and galleries that were the last word in elegance, to mix with the riff-raff and girls of easy virtue, in a garden decorated with a big elephant with rides on donkeys for the ladies' pleasure”, notes Le Moulin Rouge's website. “There was such a wild atmosphere that the show was not only on the stage but all around: aristocrats and louts in caps had fun side by side, in an atmosphere of total euphoria.”

Whether it was the restoration of the republic with its egalitarian values, or simply the allure of the cabaret that appealed to universal human nature, the rigid class barriers of the 19th century began to dissolve in the heady, rarefied air of the famous red windmill, Le Moulin Rouge conditions that would one day lead to the performing of one of Paris' most popular, and, for the time, outrageous cultural icons: the cancan.

Recommended

The US Federal Reserve is about to rein in its money-printing – what does that mean for markets?
US Economy

The US Federal Reserve is about to rein in its money-printing – what does that mean for markets?

America’s central bank is talking surprisingly tough about tightening monetary policy. And it’s not the only one. John Stepek looks at what it all mea…
23 Sep 2021
The uranium price is soaring – here’s the best way to play it now
Energy

The uranium price is soaring – here’s the best way to play it now

Uranium, the key ingredient to nuclear power, has been ignored since the bubble of 2006, but now the uranium price is rising again. Dominic Frisby exp…
22 Sep 2021
I wish I knew what contagion was, but I’m too embarrassed to ask
Too embarrassed to ask

I wish I knew what contagion was, but I’m too embarrassed to ask

Most of us probably know what “contagion” is in a biological sense. But it also crops up in financial markets. Here's what it means.
21 Sep 2021
Why is the UK short of CO2 and what does it mean for you?
UK Economy

Why is the UK short of CO2 and what does it mean for you?

The UK is experiencing a carbon dioxide shortage that could lead to empty shelves in supermarkets. Saloni Sardana explains what’s going on and how it …
21 Sep 2021

Most Popular

The times may be changing, but don’t change how you invest
Small cap stocks

The times may be changing, but don’t change how you invest

We are living in strange times. But the basics of investing remain the same: buy fairly-priced stocks that can provide an income. And there are few be…
13 Sep 2021
Two shipping funds to buy for steady income
Investment trusts

Two shipping funds to buy for steady income

Returns from owning ships are volatile, but these two investment trusts are trying to make the sector less risky.
7 Sep 2021
How to stop recurring subscriptions becoming a drain on your money
Personal finance

How to stop recurring subscriptions becoming a drain on your money

Tracking and pruning subscriptions isn’t as easy as it sounds. Here's how to take charge.
14 Sep 2021