The same places are home to the same people.

Beneath the red columns, the painted joists, in this decor of a barbaric palace, roll the same types, male and female dancers linked belly to belly in the communion of rhythm, guys and seeds of guys, scamps, sellers of snow or pipes, merchants of meat or pleasure, artists, strollers, bread swells, unabsorbed by the great human swell of curious foreigners.

To this male element is intertwined the female element, whores, half-girls, bourgeoises, lesbians, and businesswomen.

Everything mixes, merges and merges in the slow whirlwind which, from the track, reaches the edges and the promenades.

Henry Jacques on the Moulin Rouge, 1925.



Once upon a time, Montmartre was a rural village, known for its windmills and vineyards. In the late 1800s when it became part of the city of Paris, its initial low rents attracted a bohemian crowd.

Gradually, the village’s windmills began to take on a different meaning, representing the non-conformist bars and clubs that began to emerge in the area.

One of these clubs was the Moulin Rouge. The birthplace of the can-can and known for its extravagant entertainment, it was here, in an era of rigid classism where people of all backgrounds mixed, dancing and mingling as the performers performed.

The Moulin Rouge was frequented by many famous artists and writers, Toulouse-Lautrec being the most notable for his unashamed involvement with the bar, painting its show posters and portraits of the prostitutes he was close with there.

Singers such as French sweetheart Edith Piaf performed here in their early days.

It’s fair to say that this place was absolutely iconic and a major part of the reason why Paris became known as the city of lurrrv. 








A Night at the Moulin Rouge in 2022
“At the Moulin Rouge” (1892-1895) by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.






Two Blondes In Paris



a night at the moulin rouge I didn’t know any of this when I stood outside
the famous building, aged 11, with my mother
and sister on my first visit to Paris.

But I still remember gazing up at the red building
that stood stark on the wide, bustling street.
I couldn’t take my eyes away from the huge
windmill, turning round and round and round.

Thirteen years later and here we are, my bestie
and I- two blondes in Paris. For one week,
the city is ours.

We scrimp and save, baguette for lunch,
more baguette for dinner so that at the end,
we have enough money left for two tickets
to the Moulin Rouge.

The mood is mellow. We quietly get ready
in the hotel room, I stand in my towel on the
balcony looking down at the Parisians below,
water from my wet hair dripping down my back.

I think about smoking a cigarette but decide
against it. She watches her own reflection in the
mirror as she applies long flicks of mascara to
each eye. We had a relaxed day,
painting in the room.




The sun is setting- a weak pale yellow sun, hazed by soft grey clouds.

This has been the weather for the entirety of the trip so far. I like it, it makes everything look silvery.

When I’m ready, I come and stand next to her in the mirror. We’re both wearing black satin dresses but around my neck I have pearls, whilst she wears a silver choker with a big red jewel in the middle.

We snap stupid pictures together against the velvet backdrop of the hotel foyer on my little digital camera. I put on my cream leather gloves, she takes her tiny triangular bag and we walk out of the Opera district towards Montmartre.

We stop in a touristy bistro with wooden walls and order two cokes and two bowls of onion soup. They bring us a basket of bread, and when we eat all of that, they bring us more. And so we feast!

Afterwards, we buy a bottle of dry rosé from an offy- or whatever they call that over here, and pass it between us as we walk.

Once we’re on the Boulevard de Clichy and we’re passing neon signs that read ‘Cinema X’  and ‘Live Shows’, we start getting comments from the pervy men on the street.

We ignore them and keep on passing the half empty bottle, laughing like idiots now with all the buzz and the seedy vibe.

When we arrive outside we don’t head in right away. We stand staring up at the windmill turning round and round and round.

There’s a big queue of people underneath it, mostly dressed casually to our dismay (!) We join them and once we’re inside a man in a suit and waistcoat takes us into the showroom. It’s grand and doused in red, filled with people sitting at tiny tables with white tablecloths and glowing vintage lamps.

It’s as if the wine only hits us now, we turn to each other, with smiles that mean mischief, and let our coats fall off our shoulders slightly as we weave through the tables.

They seat us near the back with a young couple who hold hands across the table and try to ignore that we’re practically touching shoulders with them.

With five minutes to go before the show begins, we run to the toilet, just for the sake of getting to walk around the room again and make eyes at people.

We spot a free table- a little circular one with two seats that’s just calling our name. At the last minute we grab our coats and champagne bucket and set up house, leaving the lovers some privacy.














The Show



moulin rouge in the present day



The lights go down… the music starts, suddenly the stage is lit, revealing lines of performers in glittering silver suits and glittering smiles to match.

They dance and sing in unison and the audience watches, awestruck. It continues like this…waiters top up our glasses, as lights turn off and on to reveal new scenes and new costumes: a circus dance, a medusa dance, a lioness dance and of course the notorious can-can.

Huge headdresses, and lots of bodies in little thongs, bare breasts and big white smiles. My favourite performance is a solo act- a blonde girl dives into a huge tank of water with snakes inside.

She dances in the water, her hair swirling around her in slow motion as the snakes weave around her body. It’s mesmerising.

Another solo act is a stocky man who does acrobatics to the menacing Moulin Rouge track ‘Roxanne’. The song roars out as his performance gets increasingly dangerous.

By this point we’re pleasantly smashed, and back onto wine having finished the champagne. I’m flirting too much with the waiter who asks what we’re doing after the show, and we’re whooping and cheering at the end of each performance in true joie de vivre spirit.

At one point a woman from a group on the table next to us asks if we could stop cheering so much as it’s distracting her from the performance. I guess you can take a girl out of England but you can’t take England out the girl (!)

It seems we are the liveliest table in attendance. I’m sure the 1890s crowd would’ve welcomed us with open arms. Like everything that becomes a novelty attraction, the Moulin Rouge is of course now something that people do to tick off the Paris must-see list.

It’s not something they would likely normally do, and so the atmosphere isn’t quite like the bohemian, anything-goes vibe that seemed to have made it so special back in the day. But we should’ve expected this.

By the end of the show, I’m pretty blackout. We leave, and seemingly inspired by all the dancing,  I spot a makeshift podium with air vents blowing a breeze up from the ground and decide this is the time to have my Marilyn Monroe moment. 

I twirl around as the breeze from below blows my dress up and I push it down, feigning coyness. My friend films me. The Parisians watch with utter disdain, and eventually I lose my balance and fall to my demise in true Brit Abroad style. Time to get a taxi.










The Moulin…Beige?


The next morning we lie in bed and talk about the night.  The Moulin Rouge was once famous for its nonchalant, blasé attitude. This seems long lost.

Instead, the show felt quite mechanical and run-of-the-mill. Although we had a blast, I must admit that I’ve seen plenty of other burlesque shows that somehow had much more soul to them. 

Even though there were half naked dancers on stage, the show didn’t feel sexy. In fact, the performances seemed intentionally un-sensual. 

This too was expected as the modern day Moulin Rouge is open to all minors over the age of six.  As well as the slightly soulless vibe, we also agree on that the lack of diversity was kind of awful.

Whilst the dancers were great, every female body was the same- to the point that they were barely decipherable. On top of the fact that this is just not very cool, it also added to the sexlessness of the show.

Part of watch burlesque is subconsciously finding your eye drawn to a specific performer, whom attracts you the most; it’s just part of  the voyeuristic nature of humans.

This didn’t happen to me at the Moulin Rouge, because every performer looked identical-  long thin legs,  B-cup breasts and white, white skin.

The uniqueness and diversity of different bodies is part of the beauty, part of the erotica. Are big breasts or brown skin too explicit for the modern day Moulin Rouge? 

Nevertheless, as we sipped our hotel room instant coffee in bed with banging headaches, we decided  that we didn’t completely regret our visit.

The grandeur of the building alone was well worth it, not to mention the talent of the performers, the flirty waiters and the fact that, well, it was thee Moulin Rouge. But from sex-lover to sex-lover, don’t get your hopes up for too much spice.






adult entertainment
erotic dance



Iso is a writer and filmmaker based in East London. She is passionate about all things erotic and leads a sexy, shame-free life in hope that she can inspire others to do the same. Originally from a Northern seaside town, she is naturally drawn to the best things in life: candyfloss, trashy karaoke bars and heart-shaped sunglasses.

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