Mojojack's Travels

Le Moulin Rouge – feather boas and swimming with snakes

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Staying just 100 metres away at Hotel Le Chat Noir and with it on both our bucket lists, an evening at Le Moulin Rouge seemed ‘de riguer’.

We joined the long queue to enter a grand cabaret theatre lit in reds and gold. Seated ‘first come, first served’ we were given a table on a tier with a young surfy Australian couple who were treating themselves after six weeks in a camper van. We greeted each other with “bonsoirs”. We’d bought our tickets online a few days in advance to not miss out; they bought theirs that morning. The theatre was packed.

We were urged not to take photos of the show and at exactly 9pm, the hundreds of table lamps dimmed and the curtains opened for the first act.

I enjoyed a lot of it; the group dances complete with fake fur, high kicks, tight transitions and the Cancan, were what I came for. The fantastic jugglers and acrobats between sets were other highlights. However, I left bewildered at large parts of it.

Much of the show had a circus theme with a ringleader, clowns, and dancers dressed as lions. A female dancer dove into a large aquarium to swim with five or so very large snakes. I’m no expert but they looked like pythons. She wound them around her body and pulled them back under as they raised their heads above the water to, I presume, catch a breath. The dancer seemed absolutely safe with the snakes, I felt more concern for them. In another act, miniature horses were trotted onto the stage. I was pleased they didn’t have bits in their mouths but the loud music, vivid lighting and the sight of the audience must be frightening even if they do this every night. I wonder if any animal protection group has visited the show. Our table at least felt the use of the animals was completely unnecessary.

Another section told a story of pirates set in a weird blend of colonial Asia which I think was meant to be Indonesia. It was like watching a well-choreographed crowd at the rugby ‘Sevens’ with lots of white people in Indian, possibly Thai and maybe Chinese costumes. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

Le Moulin Rouge is iconic to Paris but no matter its history its productions could do with an update.

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