The Moulin Rouge And The Times

In the late 1800’s Montmartre was a “bad” suburb of Paris, notorious as an immoral place, a place for streetwalkers (called “pierreuses”), beggars, alcoholics and other marginal members of society. But for now, its lowlifes existed at a safe distance from the city. Things began to change with the advent of clubs such as Moulin Rouge. Unlike their city counterparts, those clubs were more informal and sold alcohol for cheap. Being outside the city limits, those cabarets were not subject to high taxes like their city counterparts. In fact they remind me of XVIIth century theaters where street vendors mingled with noblemen in a sort of coral and actors were not spared live comments from fishmongers or passersby. There was eating and drinking, stealing and fighting, and the spectacle was as much on stage as off the stage. At the turn of the century, slumming aristocrats, demi-mondaines, and bourgeois tourists in search of “adventures” started to drift to those lively places.