Belatedly, I started sending myself postcards from various destinations. Not only do I get something in my mail box, but the memories are fresh, the details vivid, and the front of the card is attractive for my fridge or bulletin board.
Monet’s La Rue Montorgueil is on the front of the postcard, which took only 3 days to travel from Paris to Madrid. With the French tricolor flags flying, it is easy to imagine it is 5th Avenue during the World War 2 ticker tape parade. Hanging in the Musee D’Orsay, the painting is a festive triumph and a happy reminder of a morning spent wandering the upper hall of Orsay. The front of the card, however, has nothing to do with the notes on the back …
How can one defend/explain the impetus to see Le Moulin Rouge cabaret show in Paris? Perhaps as a birthday wish of a certain 18 year old, an 18 year old with who loves movies such as Chicago? Madame Julien had expressed a desire to see the show last year but I’d pooh poohed the idea (as well as nipped a visit to the wax museum in the bud). But now that my baby wanted to go, I was willing. She, after all, is something of a prude. How crazy could it be? Madame Julien agreed to go – she’d never been, even though she lives just up the road in Chantilly. Mrs. O’Leary, who flew in from Connecticut, was also game; she’d never seen the show during the three years she’d lived in Paris in the nineties. So I ordered up four tickets to Feerie, the current show.
In my head I had a vague idea of can can girls, something like the Rockettes. I’d forgotten that the girls might be only partially clad. I was not prepared for two hours of French swooning and swirling.
In a huge hall/amphitheater, tables with white cloths and little lamps are set out in a fan shape around the stage to take in the show. Half of Shanghai was in attendance. After being escorted to our seats, our waiter opened a bottle of champagne (included in our ticket price) and advised that he would not be back during the show. He had worked for the Moulin Rouge for three years. Previously, he had worked at the Lido, which he said was more “American”. We did not ask what he meant (and later, we all regretted not asking the follow up).
The first number started out with about a hundred Barbie and Ken dolls in sparkling silver pants suits, shaking their dainty hips and pointing their toes, lip synching something like “Dance dance dance le France”. This prompted Mrs. O’Leary to remark how happy she was that her husband was not joining us. We devolved from there for the next two hours. A girl dove (topless) into a pool which opened up under the dance floor and swam with a passel of pythons. (I could not watch – pretty much my idea of hell on earth). There was a number with gesticulating circus clowns while the Barbies in skimpy jockey outfits paraded a small stable of baby ponies around the stage. This made Thing 1 and I giggle hysterically for some reason. The can can number, towards the end, was cute but Thing 1 tired of the yipping that accompanied each girl’s split. Instead of intermissions, there were other acts: a juggler, a female/male pair of acrobats, and a mime. The mime was the best but the applause the whole evening was tepid. The Chinese were bored. Not even the tiny breasts on display were entertaining.
Which brings me to the next point: there were no falsies in the bunch. No tattoos either. Each girl had thin thighs and was exactly the same height as the girl next to her. The male dancers were just as evenly matched. The three female “leads” were probably in their mid-thirties and, frankly, were imprecise in their movements, a little bit nonchalant, unconcerned. There was only one black male dancer and one female. Nicole Kidman and Toulouse-Lautrec were nowhere to be seen.
Bottom line: the waiter was right. This was a French evening, sequins to nuts, well worth the price of admission for a glimpse into another culture. Next time, however, we’ll check out the Lido. I’m traveling fearlessly, so you don’t have to ….