After French-Prussian, war was over Europe entered a new era known as the Beautiful Era or the Belle Époque. That period was marked by series inventions like automobile, phonograph, telephone, and cinematograph. World Fair in Paris demonstrated impressing inventions of the technique and technology achievements. Such misfortunes as Dreyfus Affair could scarcely overshadow such a miracle like Eiffel Tower. Many authors who have ever written about the Époque used the word satiety. Since Italian Risorgimento succeeded and independent Italian kingdom was proclaimed the Church has considerably lost, its influence in temporal affairs Europeans sought not only for the new forms of making their daily bread but also for the new forms of spending their spare time.
It was significant that pompously inaugurated in 1881 Basilica Notre-Dame du Sacré-Coeur assigned to lend Montmartre some virtue it did not lose its fame of an ill-frequented neighborhood. Music halls cabarets swarmed with artists eccentrics, courtesans and those who sought for entertainment still mushroomed up. These were the undefeated by the Basilica venues, which gave birth to such a phenomenon like the nightlife and cabaret in particular The cabarets became first entertainment venues accessible for both the rich and for representatives of the middle cal and workers. Here the audience could enjoy non-conformist songs performed by Aristide Bruand who satirized renowned politicians. These venues were the places where such famous literary groups like Les Hydropathes, founded by the Bohemian Emile Goudeau or Les Incohérents appeared.
The most notorious Parisian cabarets of the époque were Folies-Bergére and Moulin Rouge. Moulin Rouge which inspired Toulouse-Lautrec was built in 1889 in red-light district of Piegalle in Paris near Monmartre and is renowned for the red windmill model mounted on its roof. That cabaret is famous worldwide as the cradle of Can-can. In fact, can-can had existed long before building Moulin Rouge as a decent labor-class party dance. In the early days of Moulin Rouge, however adapted by courtesans to entertain mail audience. As time was passing on the dance gradually acquired more and more vulgar and erotic features causing much public outrage. The Guide to Paris nightlife, edition 1898, are describes the French Can-can dancers as an army of young girls in Paris who dance this divine dance with such an elasticity when they launch their legs upwards that we may presume that they are at least as flexible with morals.
However, the first decade of the Cabaret was marked not with can-can only. The venue was famous e.g. for the show of Pétomane (the ‘farting’ man). Nonetheless, later with the growth of popularity of that kind of entertainment throughout Europe prostitutes and men suffering from meteorism no longer played in cabarets. Moulin Rouge itself became a legitimate nightclub. Since then can-can has gradually lost its outward vulgarity yet is still famous for its athletic and acrobatic tricks.
Nowadays, the Can-Can performed at the Moulin Rouge is considered iconic in dance throughout the World. During the thirteen years preceded, the World War I Moulin Rouge became a genuine temple dedicated to operetta.
Although Moulin Rouge is but the most notorious cabaret in the world and is considered iconic in can-can, it was not the first theatre to play in that genre. The true pioneer of cabaret theatre was Folies Trévise. Built after the pattern of the Alhambra music hall in London it was opened on 2 May 1869. The music hall presented such performances as operettas and pantomimes acrobatic sketches. However, since the nudity
came into fashion in Parisian venues in 1894, the theatre has been producing rather provoking shows with women in scanty but splendid attires. Shows of that kind soon overshadowed its other performances. The venue has rather curious origin of its name. The word “folies” is the French for “leaves” connoting the idea of an outdoor venue. The theatre was situated on the intersection of rue Richer and the rue Trévise. However, Duke de Trévis a prominent nobleman did not want his name to be mingled with such an indecent dance-hall so the name of the venue was changed for Folies Bergère after another nearby street rue Bergère.
Folies Bergère could be esteemed as the theatre, which pioneered striptease, as it is known by now. Nevertheless more than a hundred years passed since its opening it is still followed as the pattern by venues of a kind throughout the world.
The French have but the always been the pioneers of any progressive changes in Occidental civilization. They were the first to formulate the Declaration of Human rights, the y were the first who adopted the first Civil Code (aka Napoleon code) which secured equal protection of the law regardless of the class origin. They were the first to contrive legal means for entertainment accessible for anyone regardless of estate. Advent of such aphenomenon as nightlife signified the emancipation of people’s minds, their liberationfrom ecclesiastical dogmas imposed by hypocritical clergymen. People began feeling like being free; they realized themselves belonging to themselves regardless of sex and their social origin.
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