The gardens of the Moulin Rouge, featuring a massive hollow elephant.

Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In 1889, businessmen Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler bought the decrepit White Queen Dance Hall in the seedy Quartier Pigalle of Paris. They completely renovated the space and placed a vibrant red windmill on the roof. That’s how the new cabaret club earned its name, Moulin Rouge.

The venue soon became notorious for its provocative can-can dances and raucous atmosphere

The dancers became famous in their own right. They included Louise Weber, “The Glutton,” known for whirling through the crowd and stealing patrons’ drinks; Mistinguett, who went on to become the highest-paid female entertainer in the world, with legs insured for 500,000 francs. Read more…

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A century of bawdy fun at the Moulin Rouge