The can-can was a raucous dance that reached its height of popularity during the Belle Époque, 1900 Paris. Parisian cabarets promoted it and Jane Avril and La Goulue popularized the dance in the night clubs of Montmartre. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec depicted it in his famous painting, At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance. And, Jacques Offenbach left us with the memorable tune.
What made the dance so tempting? Why did aristocrats and the growing French middle class make their way to the Montmartre in what must have been a steady stream of horsedrawn carriages from the center of Paris? They came to the famous cabaret district with the express purpose of witnessing the flamboyant and naughty dancers.
Here is a scene in the novella, when the protagonist (Adrienne, a time traveler) first arrives at the Moulin Rouge.
“People danced all around her, in clusters. Some fell—obviously tipsy. Companions pulled them upright and began dancing again, kicking up heels and stumbling, determined to conquer the new dance.
Instructor, Valentin the Boneless, bowed to the can-can dancer in the orange dress and bright red stockings. The end of her lesson? The young woman moved aside as he motioned to the next in line, a teenager in a bright green skirt framed by an abundance of white petticoats.
This can’t be, Adrienne cautioned herself, staggering backwards. Impossible. She’d traveled back in time over a hundred years!
The red-stockinged can-can dancer grabbed Adrienne’s arm. Attention,” she said. “You mustn’t upset Monsieur Toulouse-Lautrec. He’s busy sketching.” Adrienne turned around. The artist sat at a small round table just behind her.
“Oh, my,” she said pressing her had to her throat. “E-Excuze-moi.”
Lautrec glanced up, mumbled something about her poor French, and returned to his drawings.
The Can-Can Girl and the Mysterious Woman in Pink is available on Amazon as an e-book and paperback. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NBWOLQU
You may also enjoy a YouTube depicting the bawdy life of the Moulin Rouge: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exrcnq6Uac4
The Moulin Rouge: Life among the can-can dancers From the Novella: The Can-Can Girl and the Mysterious Woman in Pink Blog Post by Pamela B. Eglinski