Let me be upfront and say this: if I could do this day again, I would have taken a train to Switzerland – for even as little as two hours – instead of buying a 190€ show ticket to Moulin Rouge. I feel that in regards to price, value and entertainment, Crazy Horse is better. Point blank, period.
Now, the following is the story of why.
I went in with the Highest of Hopes…
I really, really wanted to enjoy my time at Moulin Rogue. I’d originally fell in love with the idea during my first trip to Paris, in college. I was wowed by the city and the area. To me, this was where the artists lived, dined and wrote. I was in love with the idea. The beauty of my imagination idealized the venue and what I expected. From the historic lore to the iconic idea of the famous Moulin Rogue in Montmartre, I truly wanted to experience the high kicking classic can-can.
Earlier in the day, stepping out of the metro at Blanche was exciting. The iconic windmill hits you in the face. On a whim, I walked up to the box office and inquired about available tickets for the evening. When the attendant said yes, it felt like everything worked together for me to be there, right then.
But when she said 190€, my immediate response was, “Wait, what?”
On the website, the tickets were 110€, for a later show, the day before. I know this because while talking to the bartender at Cafe Cassette, we discussed Moulin Rouge and I checked the price. Now, I want to stress that the 190€ was JUST for a ticket to the show itself. Not including champagne or dinner. My ticket to Crazy Horse, the show with a bottle of champagne, was 130€.
Shocked, I asked if the price gets higher – like a Ticketmaster scalper – the day of the show?
The attendant said that it was the usual price.
Again, because the ticket was available at the original time I wanted and not later in the evening, I paid for the ticket.
Later, when the appointed time to arrive at Moulin Rouge came, I followed directions, got my ticket scanned and waited in the grande hallway for seating.
The Seat Situation:
Do Not Waste my Time or Money
I usually have no problem traveling as a single person. I usually get the best seating and have the best time. This is what I expect.
So, when the main host alerted the seating host of where to sit me, I was excited to see the grande ballroom and setting. Until, I got to my seat.
It was in the back of the venue, near the very back of the auditorium, with a very obvious pole blocking half the sage.
I literally took one look at that seat and said – No.
Not for 190€. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.
Before I could even say “Wait, what is this bullshit?” the seating host had disappeared.
Now, I don’t care what country I am in or what language a person speaks. I know when my time and money are being disrespected. I arrived on time for the doors opening for general seating, at 8pm. The show was set to start at 9pm. There was clear availability for unobstructed view seating. Likewise, there was absolutely no reason I should have been assigned a seat with a blocked view.
Period and done.
Not being the one or the two in line for bullshit, I immediately walked down and flagged down a passing waiter. I quickly informed him that I wanted to move to the table at the base of the stairs, at the lower edge of the row of tables. Even that seating was far from the most ideal setting. However, it was better than the previously assigned seat at the back of the theater.
The waiter paused and communicated my desires to the seating host. The seating host told me to wait a moment, while he confirmed if it was possible.
When he returned, he beckoned me to follow him. I was led to table in the main dining area, with an unobstructed, clear view of the stage.
Later, during the show, I looked back at the first seat and it was unfilled. Curious, isn’t it?
The Pre Show:
Am I at a Backyard Family Reunion in Anytown, Ohio?
Settling into my new seat, I looked around the space. I immediately saw that I was surrounded by Americans. Now, as an American, I know Americans. It’s a very distinct energy. It’s also a tell when the pre show live band plays American boomer classics in English, and people get up and sway dance to it.
It was giving peak backyard wedding in Anytown, Ohio. Sending me into backyard family reunion with white wine and conversations about football vibes.
The only thing that felt like Paris were the uptight waiters busting around and the Belle Époque style décor within the ballroom.
I remember taking a deep breath and making a choice. I thought to myself “do I want to be right – or do I want to be happy?” The main problem – the shift from the blocked view to a clearer view – was fixed. Personally, I thought the pre-show live music was corny as all hell. But, people were having fun. So, it was my choice to change my feelings about the matter and start making an internal list of positive aspects about the night.
About 30 minutes before the show start, a friendly man from Palma, Mallorca off the coast of Spain was sat across from me, at the table. We managed to hobble together a decent conversation in English about musicals, experiencing life and the joy of travel. It definitely lifted my mood. Plus, he gave me some of his champagne.
A History of France, in French, for a Predominatly English Speaking Audience
In contrast to the English language pre show music, the ACTUAL PERFORMANCE of Moulin Rogue is 98% French. I overheard some nearby Americans complaining about this fact. But, it was what it was. At a certain point, you need to release expectations that everything in the world is catered to your primary language.
The show itself was high energy was fun, energetic and offered a visual history of Paris. From colonizing Indonesia (complete with a woman being thrown by “natives” into an aquarium filled with giant, 9 food long snakes) to showcasing the can-can to the “modern era” dancing of the 60s, it was a cute look…….
The only way you could follow the story is to let yourself understand the language of dance and visual storytelling.
But – to be direct – Moulin Rogue feels like it’s where you take your 70 year old parents for dinner and a show. It’s where you go if want a feeling of dated Las Vegas style dance – in Paris. It gives very vintage Stardust casino showroom on the Las Vegas Strip, circa 1970 – 1990s.
I will say that the skill of the ensemble were great. The dance interludes between the main acts were the best parts of the show.
But wait! There’s more!:
The Fight in the Audience During the Third Act
The show flowed decently, with me going along with the story – until I notice a commotion, at a dining table near the base of the stage. Almost immediately, two men who looked like they were from Ohio stood up, with both of them squared to punch each other.
Two men, in the middle of a show at Moulin Rouge, squared up and prepped to throw hands, during the third act. This was peak ‘Murica mayonnaise, in full display. I gagged at the absurdity.
Fingers were pointed and I could see that one man was yelling at another man, while various other patrons in the area yelled for security. The first line of defense, slim fit security in suits arrived and assed the situation. Then, the second wave of outside security came over.
During all of this, the dancers did not break one line of lip syncing or a dance step.
Within 15 minutes, the situation ended. People were escorted out and the show kept moving along on the stage. I later joked that I literally forgot that I was in Paris.
It made the show that much more memorable, to say the least.
The 9pm show was over at 10:40pm. Within minutes, I was on the Metro, then back at the Hotel du Louvre, double fisting two cocktails and waiting for my Uber Eats delivery from McDonalds at Officine du Louvre by 11:30pm. The texts I sent my social circle about the experience were fierce and priceless.
So, dear reader, if you truly cannot fathom having a time in Paris without going to this place, go right on ahead. But, I suggest you don’t be a simp like I was and get the cheapest possible ticket online. Or, keep your money and go to Switzerland for the day.
Or, take the Eurostar to London.
Or go to bed early at your hotel.
You’d be better off.
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Paris, France 75018