Thursday Featured Cabaret Performance Venue: La Belle Époch de Paris

Welcome to McElrath Cabaret–We hope you enjoy our cabaret blog!


The term “cabaret” has been traced back to the mid-17th Century (the word referred to a “tavern”). However, music historians generally agree that the performing art form we now know as cabaret started to take on its modern characteristics in Paris, France during what is known as “La Belle Époch,” or the Beautiful Age.


This period, which coincided with America’s Gilded Age, was a time of relative peace, prosperity and optimism in France (at least among the upper classes). It was marked by scientific discoveries and technological advances. These conditions allowed literature and the arts to flourish in a way that is unusual at any time or place in history.


The privations of the First World War brought The Beautiful Age in France to a screeching halt (the period was actually named in retrospect). It would be decades before the French people would again experience anything even remotely like it. However, the  entertainment of that idyllic time is remembered  at a Paris nightspot that bears the name, La Belle Époch.  The decor pays some tribute to the early 20th Century, and occasionally one can see old-time “can-can” dancers complete with the frilly skirts. In general however, the acts are more reminiscent of Las Vegas of the 1960s and 70s than Paris of the 1890s.


If you are fortunate enough to visit Paris and go to La Belle Époch however, you will find that an evening’s entertainment offers tremendous variety – not unlike that offered in New York nightclubs in the late 1940s and 1950s.


This scene from the 2001 film Moulin Rouge contains music and choreography that is anachronistic. However, it does a good job of presenting the look and feel of what someone at that time would have experienced. In fact,director writer and producer Baz Luhrman wrote in the liner notes for the sound track that he deliberately juxtaposed modern pop music with the period setting and costumes in order to “decode what the Moulin Rouge was to the audiences of 1899 and express that same thrill and excitement in a way to which contemporary movie-goers can relate.”


See if you don’t agree.


Have you seen any cabaret performances or visited any venues abroad? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below!


Is there a cabaret blog, website or performer that you would like to see featured on McElrath Cabaret? Leave us a note in the comments below—we always love to hear from our readers!


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Till next time, 

ps–The Cabaret Soiree Link Party will begin anew on Monday–you can visit anytime to click on the links and see what others have posted, or you can share your own recent cabaret blog or website link every Monday through Thursday.  Link is below.


Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:

Mondays:  Cabaret Soiree Cabaret Blog Link Party

Tuesdays:  Cabaret Tip Tuesday

Wednesdays:  Ask A Cabaret Question

Thursdays: Featured Cabaret Blog, Website, Performer

Fridays:  Cabaret Through Time

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About KJ at McElrath Cabaret

KJ McElrath is a piano player and singer who relishes performing works by Porter, the Gershwins, Harry Warren, Yip Harburg and the other writing denziens from the heyday of Hollywood, Broadway and Tin Pan Alley.
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