Moulin Rouge (French for Red Windmill) is a cabaret built in 1889 by Josep Oller, who also owned the Paris Olympia. It is near Montmartre in the Paris red-light district of Pigalle on Boulevard de Clichy in the 18th arrondissement, it is recognized by the facsimile of a red windmill on its roof. The Moulin Rouge is a tourist destination, offering musical dance entertainment for adult visitors from around the world. Much of the romance from turn-of-the-century France is still present in the club’s decor. Notable performers at the Moulin Rouge have included La Goulue, Josephine Baker, Frank Sinatra, Yvette Guilbert, Jane Avril, Mistinguett, Le Pétomane, Édith Piaf and others. The Moulin Rouge was also the subject of paintings by post-impressionist painter Toulouse Lautrec. Moulin Rouge was the title of a book by Pierre La Mure, which was adapted as a 1952 film called Moulin Rouge, starring Jose Ferrer and Zsa-Zsa Gabor. Several other films have had the same title, including 2001’s Moulin Rouge!, starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman. Both the 1952 and 2001 films were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
The main feature of an evening at the Moulin Rouge is the performance. The Moulin Rouge is famous internationally as the ‘spiritual home’ of the traditional French Can-Can, which is still performed there today. While the dance of the can-can had existed for many years as a respectable, working-class party dance, it was in the early days of the Moulin Rouge when courtesans first adapted the dance to entertain the male clientele. It was usually performed individually, with the courtesan moving in an increasingly energetic and provocative way in an attempt to seduce a potential client. It was very common for them to lift their skirts and reveal their legs, underwear and occasionally the genitals. As time progressed, the can-cans seen at the Moulin Rouge became more and more vulgar and overtly erotic, causing much public outrage. Later, however, with the rising popularity of music hall entertainment in Europe, courtesans were no longer required at the Moulin Rouge and it became a legitimate nightclub. The modern can-can was born as dancers were introduced to entertain the guests, many of them failed ballet dancers with exceptional skill. The can-can that we recognize today comes directly from this period and as the vulgarity of the dance lessened, it became renowned for its athletic and acrobatic tricks.
The Moulin Rouge has lost much of its former reputation as a ‘high-class brothel’ and it would soon become fashionable for French society to visit and see the spectacular cabarets, which have included a can-can ever since. The dance is recognizable for the long skirts with heavily frilled undergarments that the dancers wear, high kicks, hops in a circle whilst holding the other leg in the air, splits, cartwheels and other acrobatic tricks, normally accompanied by squeals and shrieks. As the dance became respected, it became less and less crude, but the choreography is always intended to be a little risque at times, somewhat provocative and ‘a little naughty’.
Today, the Can-Can performed at the Moulin Rouge has iconic status in dance throughout the World. Andrey Bely wrote in his 1906 letter to Alexander Blok about the “Tavern of Hell” at Moulin Rouge, where lackeys were dressed as devils: Sometimes I would venture from my sepulchre to the jazz of night Paris, where having gathered the colours, I would think them over in front of the fire. I could be seen walking through a funeral corridor of my house and descending down a black spiral of steep stairs; rushing underground to Montmartre, all impatience to see the fiery rubies of the Moulin Rouge cross. I wandered thereabouts, then bought a ticket to watch frenzied delirium of feathers, vulgar painted lips, and eyelashes of black and blue. Naked feet, and thighs, and arms, and breasts were being flung on me from bloody-red foam of translucent clothes. The tuxedoed goatees and crooked noses in white vests and toppers would line the hall, with their hands posed on canes. Then I found myself in a pub, where the liqueurs were served on a coffin (not a table) by the nickering devil: “Drink it, you wretched!” Having drunk, I returned under the black sky split by the flaming vanes, which the radiant needles of my eyelashes cross-hatched. In front of my nose a stream of bowler hats and black veils was still pulsing, foamy with bluish green and warm orange of feathers worn by the night beauties: to me they were all one, as I had to narrow my eyes for insupportable radiance of electric lamps, whose hectic fires would be dancing beneath my nervous eyelids for many a night to come.
The People’s Almanac credited the origin of striptease as we know it to an act in 1890s Paris in which a woman slowly removed her clothes in a vain search for a flea crawling on her body. At this time Parisian shows such as the Moulin Rouge and Folies Bergere pioneered semi-nude dancing and tableaux vivants. One landmark was the appearance at the Moulin Rouge in 1907 of an actress called Germaine Aymos who entered dressed only in three very small shells.
Pere-Lachaise Cemetery: (Jim Morrison’s Grave)
Père-Lachaise Cemetery (French: Cimetière du Père-Lachaise) (officially, cimetière de l’Est “eastern cemetery”) is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris, France at (48 ha, 118.6 acres), although there are larger cemeteries in Paris suburbs. Père-Lachaise is one of the most famous cemeteries in the world. Located in the 20e arrondissement, it is reputed to be the world’s most-visited cemetery, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually to the graves of those who have enhanced French life over the past 200 years. It is also the site of three Great War memorials. Père-Lachaise is located on Boulevard de Ménilmontant. Métro station Philippe Auguste on line 2 is next to the main entrance, while the station called Père Lachaise, on lines 2 or 3, is 500 metres away near a side entrance. (Many tourists are reported to prefer the Gambetta station on line 3 as it allows them to enter near the tomb of Oscar Wilde and go downhill to visit the rest of the cemetery.)
Jim Morrison is buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery in eastern Paris, one of the city’s most visited tourist attractions. The grave had no official marker until French officials placed a shield over it, which was stolen in 1973. In 1981, Croatian sculptor Mladen Mikulin placed a bust of Morrison and the new gravestone with Morrison’s name at the grave to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his death; the bust was defaced through the years by the cemetery vandals and later stolen in 1988. In the 1990s a flat stone was placed on the grave, possibly by his birth family, with the Greek inscription: ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ. Mikulin later made two more Morrison’s portraits in bronze, but is awaiting the license to place a new sculpture on the tomb. American singer and songwriter with The Doors, author, and poet. Permanent crowds and occasional vandalism surrounding this tomb have caused tensions with the families of other, less famous, deceased. The cemetery has been forced to hire a full-time security guard for the grave. Many other parts of the cemetery have been defaced with arrows purporting to indicate the direction toward “Jim”, though even these defacements have in many cases been defaced themselves, resulting in arrows that point in two directions.
When I went to see Jim Morrison’s grave it was a very interesting experience. First of all, if you just follow the general flow of tourist through the cemetery then you will end up at Jim Morrison’s grave. Don’t worry to much about if an arrow is right or night. You will see that many of the graves or moseleums that have defaced have been graffitied in Doors lyrics. At the grave you will see that it is very simple, the statue bust of Jim Morrison depicted in the movie the “Doors” by Oliver Stone was already gone by the time I first visited the cemetery. On that day someone had left a bottle of hard red wine with a wine glass as well as a smoke for Jim.