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I Can Do the Cancan If You Can

My 30th birthday was the last time to have seen the spectacular show at the Lido. No, I won’t tell you how many years have passed, but it was every bit as much fun and fanfare as it was then. This is how I chose to celebrate my 13th anniversary in Paris, with a visiting friend playing tourist all day culminating with the 1.5 hour Champagne Revue titled “Bonheur” led by “Diana.”

Tickets aren’t inexpensive (at 100€ for the 9:30 p.m. performance and 90€ for the following performance at 11 p.m., and with dinner starting at 140€), but the memories will last as long as they did from the first time having enjoyed it. Seventy dancers fill the stage over 23 different sets and wearing 600 elaborate feathered and sequined costumes (that could mean for some as much as a 23-time costume change in 1.5 hours, or one every 4 minutes!)

You could relate the show at the Lido (as well as the Moulin Rouge “spectacle”) to a one in Las Vegas show, with the exception of the female dancers whose breasts have not been artificially enlarged, or whose noses have not been reduced to bobs. Here the women are naturally French, slender and A cup. It wasn’t intimidating nor particularly sexy, although quite stunning.

The Moulin Rouge is a very similar affair, with dinner at 7 p.m. (from 145€) and the performance starting at 9 p.m. (99€) or the later one at 11 p.m. (89€).

Which has a better show? Tough to say. Of course, the Moulin Rouge is legendary, thanks to the Cancan which first appeared in the working-class ballrooms of Montparnasse in Paris in around 1830 and then made famous by such entertainers as La Goulue and Jane Avril, who were highly paid for their appearances at the Moulin Rouge.

It is said that the British were rather shocked by the dance, bordering on the edge of indecency, but in Paris the popularity was still growing…dancing women of at least 1,70m (5’5″) tall in black stockings, garters and frills who spun in contentment in a series of gracious ‘pizzicatti,’ doing splits and uncovering lacy underskirts before the eyes of bewitched clients.

On July 10th in the year 2000, French Rock’n’Roll star, Johnny Hallyday, celebrated 40 years in the music business by holding a huge free concert at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Hundreds of thousands of fans turned out to watch the mega-show — and while I was never a fan of the French copy of Elvis Presley, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world! For added pizzazz, he engaged the Crazy Horse dancers to perform, right there in broad daylight, in all their topless glory.</f ont>

The toplessness was not shocking by French cultural standards, but this was certainly not a performance one could imagine taking place at the Washington Monument! The Crazy Horse dancers are yet another typically French revue worth seeing. Don’t count on much budget for feathers, but the Crazy Horse is famous for its “groundbreaking use of lighting, with film and kaleidoscopic projections washing over the dancers, using their bodies as canvases to paint in patterns of light” (as noted in a review by Mike Weatherford). Possibly more mechanical dance than sensual (although the producers wouldn’t agree with me), the dancers all have identical body forms, impossible to tell one from the other under their wigs and triangular-shaped pubic areas.

There are plenty of other cabarets in town worth taking in, such as the Paradis Latin ( and Brasil Tropical (, all competing for the same tourist euro, and all very much a part of the Paris experience.

Editor’s Notes:

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A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris


P.S. The weekly Community Calendar is back! Visit
/parlerparis/calendar.html …see you next Tuesday at La Rentrée Parler Paris Après Midi, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at La Pierre du Marais!


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