Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

First day at the Moulin Rouge. (1 Viewer)

JoannaMac

Senior Member
I danced at the Moulin Rouge in Paris and wrote a bit about my time there. This is just a little bit about my first day at the theatre.

The Moulin Rouge is situated close to the end of Boulevarde de Clichy, slightly separated from the rest of the street’s erotica. As the most famous cabaret in the world, I imagined it’s façade to look like a grand theatre, perhaps with some columns and a few curlicues. At first sight, I was surprised and slightly disappointed by its small, rather unimpressive entrance and exterior. It looks more arresting at night however, when the lights come on and the red windmill on the roof announces clearly “Yes! You’ve come to the right place. This is the Moulin Rouge!”

On that first day, I’d come to the theatre to introduce myself to Janet, the directrice of the Moulin. I waited for her in the foyer where hanging on the walls were framed originals of flyers and posters for various shows throughout the theatre’s illustrious history. More special were the prints of Toulouse Lautrec’s paintings which made the Moulin immortal. I’d seen them on television, in films, as posters and post cards, but to see them on the walls of the place that inspired them was quite something else. I suddenly felt very proud to become part of it all.

Further inside, the main hall was dark making it difficult to gage how big the place was. Later when I came back to watch the show for the first time, I saw it was a relatively small dining salle with tables for about 400 people. The deep red of the carpet and velvet upholstery glowed in the soft light, creating a warm and intimate atmosphere. Even though everything looked a little worn and in need of repair, that velvety light transformed it all into old world charm.

“You must be Joanna” said a voice with a broad northern English accent. I turned around and came face to face with Janet. She was a tall, slim woman in her late thirties, with a slight stoop and a cigarette dangling from her fingers (a permanent fixture I would later find out). Her light brown hair was short and wavy, and parted on the side in a style that belonged on someone much older than herself. She smiled and introduced herself revealing large front teeth, which instantly put me in mind of English country gentlewomen with horsy faces and braying voices. “Well you weren’t lying about your height” she said laughing. Deeply nasal and penetrating, Janet’s laugh will remain burned on my brain forever. Like the firing of a rather slow machine gun, it could cut across the noise and chatter made by 30 dancers preparing themselves for the show.

“This is all amazing” I said gesturing at the paintings and posters. “Yes” she said vaguely, glancing at them as if noticing them for the first time. “Well come on, I’ll show you around” I followed her through the theatre to the stage. Traces of cooking smells and stale smoke hung in the air, and although it was too dark to see anything clearly, I got a sense of the ‘redness’ all around.

We passed behind the stage curtain and went up a flight of metal stairs which brought us to a costume storage area. Above each rack of costumes was written the name of the girl to whom they belonged. The musty odour up there is one of the most powerful memories I have of the Moulin. ‘Formidable’, the show I would soon begin rehearsing had already been running for over eleven years. The costumes, while well maintained, had been sweated in for years by literally hundreds of girls. It was something we all preferred not to think about too much. De-sensitization sets in very quickly however, but the memory of the smell on that first day will stay with me always.

Next, we went through the dressing rooms, which looked exactly how I imagined they would, like a set from a movie about the theatre. The mirrors were bordered with bright lights and fallen feathers and Rhine stones littered the floor. For months I collected them like a Jackdaw and when there were finally enough stones, I encrusted them on the edges of a large, rectangular mirror I found abandoned in the street.

Glittering costume pieces and head dresses hung from hooks on the walls from which the paint was peeling. Satin dressing gowns lay draped over the backs of chairs. Make up and facial creams covered the dressing tables, and underneath were shelves stuffed with high heeled chorus shoes. To find that such a glamorous cliché really existed was a little dream come true.

We went up another flight of stairs to look at the practice studio where I’d be rehearsing for the next few weeks and back down to the atelier where the costumes were cared for by a team of seamstresses. Janet talked a bit about the everyday workings of the show and about my timetable for the rehearsal period. Lastly, we went to her office where I signed my contract. I’d come to Paris on a promise, so it came as quite a relief to finally sign on the dotted line.
 

JoannaMac

Senior Member
didn't think such a glamorous place could be portrayed as so dingy.

well done, schatz.

Thanks sweetpea. At first Moulin fell short of my expectations. The other big cabaret in Paris is called 'The Lido', which is much ritzier, but after a while my view changed. I guess I became loyal to my show. It happens to most dancers who work there. You realize that while the 'Lido' is newer and more flashy, the Moulin has a history and far more character. It's a true Parisian show, rather than a 'Las Vegas Wannabe'.
 

Mustafa

Member
I really liked it!! I think we are all familiar with seeing something from the outside and then once on the inside how different they can actually are.

I felt like I was there and could see and smell what was being described.

You have some great ingredients for a story. I would love to taste the main course.
 

JoannaMac

Senior Member
I really liked it!! I think we are all familiar with seeing something from the outside and then once on the inside how different they can actually are.

I felt like I was there and could see and smell what was being described.

You have some great ingredients for a story. I would love to taste the main course.

Thanks Mustafa! I'm actually about three quarters of the way through the book I'm trying to write. It's unedited, but I'll start cleaning up some more bits and pieces to post here ok? :)
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
c'est formidable, ma petite!... am looking forward to further installments... saw only a few little goofs to be fixed, tagging you as a better writer/proofer/editor than most i see... let me know if you need help with anything, as i think this has the potential to actually make it into print [the paid kind!] and would be happy to help you on your way...

love and hugs, maia
 

JoannaMac

Senior Member
c'est formidable, ma petite!... am looking forward to further installments... saw only a few little goofs to be fixed, tagging you as a better writer/proofer/editor than most i see... let me know if you need help with anything, as i think this has the potential to actually make it into print [the paid kind!] and would be happy to help you on your way...

love and hugs, maia

Thank you Maia. Please tell me what the goofs are. Can you perhaps email me a correction? I'm glad you like it though. I don't have that much confidence in my writing and have been quite shy about posting it here.But since a couple of you have shown some interest, I feel really motivated to clean up a few more Moulin snippets. Thanks again :)
 

BWE

Senior Member
Quite beautiful. In an age where we so often accept reality as offered, seeing it as something to notice occasionally shocks me into a strange kind of euphoria. Loving something for its backstage as well as its facade rarely makes its way into cultural writing that I see and we all identify with both parts. You put me there.

If I were to offer any constructive criticism, it is simply that opening an essay or story with a passive sentence always struck me as requiring special justification.

Not that you don't have that but, FWIW, I always try to articulate it just to convince myself that I meant to do it.
 

JoannaMac

Senior Member
Quite beautiful. In an age where we so often accept reality as offered, seeing it as something to notice occasionally shocks me into a strange kind of euphoria. Loving something for its backstage as well as its facade rarely makes its way into cultural writing that I see and we all identify with both parts. You put me there.

If I were to offer any constructive criticism, it is simply that opening an essay or story with a passive sentence always struck me as requiring special justification.

Not that you don't have that but, FWIW, I always try to articulate it just to convince myself that I meant to do it.

Thanks for taking the time to read and give feed back. What did you mean about opening the story with a passive sentence, and it needing special justification? And what is FWIW? I'm not really up on the latest jargon :)
 

BWE

Senior Member
The Moulin Rouge is situated close to the end of Boulevarde de Clichy, slightly separated from the rest of the street’s erotica.
When you use a form of "to be", in this case "is" as the verb in an opening setting you don't ask the reader's mind to do anything or go anywhere. Sometimes, you mean for them to stay put and sometimes you just forget to scoop them up.

The second sentence makes them act by parsing the word "imagined".
As the most famous cabaret in the world, I imagined it’s façade to look like a grand theatre, perhaps with some columns and a few curlicues.
(its is a possessive pronoun not a contraction by the way or BTW for short)

One way to change the sentence might be
The Moulin Rouge, situated close to the end of Boulevarde de Clichy, stands slightly separated from the rest of the street’s erotica.
The reader has to stand the building rather than simply observe.

Like I said above though, if you can justify it to yourself and you like it that way then don't worry.

FWIW= for what it's (short for it is) worth ;)

Is that helpful at all?
 

JoannaMac

Senior Member
Thanks very much, your version does sound a lot better :) I'll post a few more of my Moulin Snippets and I hope you'll read them. This kind of advice is very useful.
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
fwiw [wink], even better/more reader-impactful might be:

The Moulin Rouge stands slightly separated from the rest of the street’s erotica, near the end of Boulevarde de Clichy.

...gets us right to the intriguing erotica bit w/o futzing around... ;-)
 

Shinn

Senior Member
Hey Jo! :)

Just thought that I would read this snippet while I was on here. It is as good as the first one that I commented on. Keep up the good work! ^^

~ Shinn
 

winner

Senior Member
Standing ovation

=D>​

Your a very good writer. You held my interest all along. Good choice of adjectives without over using them, you sparked it up with intermittent dialogue, you timing was just right, you didn't spent too much time on any one thing, good character descriptions, your choice of topic was an interesting one. If you are not a published writer, you should pursue this. You could have a career in writing.
 

winner

Senior Member
WARNING !!!!!!!!

I just read your replies and see one writer that is telling you to e-mail you material to him to review and make corrections, edit. DON'T DO IT!!! Don't ever send your material to another writer to review for any reason whatsoever. Manuscripts are stolen that way. The Writing business and publishing industry is a cut throat business. Writers get screwed out of their material all the time. Before anyone views you manuscript, get the copyright on it. Make it legally yours. Then let an editor, agent, publisher, etc take a look at 1-3 chapters of it only. And then sign a contract. Only after it is copyrighted, and a contract is signed do you hand over the full manuscript. Many writers will try to maneuver or manipulate you out of your material and many times it will be in the disguise of being helpful or friendly. BEWARE! You have good material and could go far I feel, but don't be naive about how you handle this.
 
Top