October 6, 1889, was the day that an odd building with a windmill opened in a rural zone of Paris. The building housed a club called the Moulin Rouge—literally, the Red Mill—that became home to the famous can-can dance. It's been the subject of paintings, movies, and even a Las Vegas casino copycat. Here are five things you didn't know about the Moulin Rouge.
The Original House Burned Down in 1915 The original building that housed the club was known for its electric power, and an electrical short may have been behind a massive fire that gutted the building. The place was rebuilt, of course, and firefighters were able to save all the neighboring buildings. But the fire was so bad that other than the facade and parts of the stage, the rest was a complete loss. Oddly enough, in October 2017, the building that used to hold the old Moulin Rouge casino in Las Vegas also suffered a severe fire, and the structure had to be torn down.
The Iconic Windmill Had a Symbolic Past It looks like a quirky design now, but that windmill on the building wasn't there by chance. The Monmartre area used to be a processing center for items like grain milling and textiles. Windmills were common sources of power, and the one on the club was there as a symbol of the neighborhood. Only two remain, other than the one on top of the Moulin Rouge.
The Building Was Paris' First Electric-Powered Building The Moulin Rouge was located in Monmartre partly because the lack of competition would make the club stand out even more and gain a lot of attention. But that wasn't enough for its founder. The building itself had the first electric power in the city of Paris. Not only were the decor and costumes colorful, but the use of electricity to light the place up added to the spectacle.
Those Dance Moves Broke Some Records Did you know the can-can kicks were record-breaking? Dancers at the Moulin Rouge hold a Guinness world record for number of high kicks in 30 seconds. The official record is "most simultaneous high kicks in 30 seconds by a single chorus line," gained in 2010. A total of 720 kicks were recorded; 30 dancers each made 24 kicks in half a minute. One dancer, Adonis Kosmadakis, holds another record for most kicks behind his head in 30 seconds.
Not All Moulin Rouge Dancers Are Female If Kosmadakis' record stopped you—what do you mean, his head??—you'll find this fact interesting: There are male Moulin Rouge dancers. Most people think of a line of women when they hear about the Moulin Rouge, but the club has male dancers as well.