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The French cancan

The legendary dance of cabaret shows in Paris

Do you know the French Cancan? This legendary cabaret dance was born in the ballrooms of Paris in the 19th century. The Paradis Latin tells you more about its history and origins. And if you want to see a genuine French Cancan show in Paris, you may attend the revue “L’Oiseau Paradis” at the Paradis Latin.

french cancan show paris

Paris, cabarets and French cancan

The French Cancan is a famous cabaret dance traditionnaly performed by a group of women. The cancan dancers are well known for their multi-colored ruffled skirts and petticoats. The most famous move of the French Cancan is the high-kick. The female performers, with suppleness and agility, kick their legs up and lift their petticoats, revealing their undergarments. They jump and sway their hips in a chorus line, and the men dance beside them and do acrobatics (jump splits, cartwheel, etc.).

The French Cancan is an iconic part of Parisian cabaret shows. It is traditionally danced on a music with a frantic rhythm: the Infernal Galop of Orpheus in the Underworld by Jacques Offenbach. This dance represents the “uproar” moment of the show, when the dancers shout characteristically. It is a joyful, festive and rather frivolous scene, reminiscent of the optimism and carefree life of the Belle Époque period.

Come and experience a French Cancan which is both traditional and modern in the show L’Oiseau Paradis, at the Paradis Latin.

A brief history of the French Cancan in Paris

The origins of the French Cancan go back to the 19th century, when Parisian life was punctuated by numerous balls. In the 1820s, the most popular dance was the quadrille, an extremely intricate dance in which couples had to perform figures in a specific order. Eager to leave room for improvisation, some men began to dance in an extravagant and disorderly way. For the bourgeois society of the time, it was scandalous! The criticism increased when, a few years later, women also started dancing this way.

In the ballrooms, this dance was called “chahut” (uproar), “cancan” or “coin-coin” in reference to the quack and waddle of ducks. Considered cheeky and provocative at the time, it was therefore banned from ballrooms. However, some women ignored the ban. Thanks to them, the cancan has become very popular, and in the middle of the 19th century the whole Paris was in love with it. The cabarets, which entertained Parisians since their appearance in the 1880s, then decided to include the most famous cancan dancers in their shows. The cancan later conquered England which gave it its definitive name: the French Cancan.

This dance continues in popularity to this day. It is performed in Parisian cabarets with the same music, footwork and multi-colored ruffles as before, sometimes in a more modern form. Worldwide, the cancan symbolizes French freedom and frivolity, and women’s empowerment.

french cancan dance history
french cancan cabaret paris

Attend a genuine French Cancan show in Paris, at the Paradis Latin

If you are looking for a French Cancan show in Paris, you may go to the Paradis Latin! This mythical venue located in the 5th arrondissement is the oldest cabaret of the French capital.

Come and enjoy the wonderful revue “L’Oiseau Paradis. This spectacular show, created by the famous French choreographer Kamel Ouali, subtly mixes tradition and modernity. You will surely be amazed by the colorful French Cancan, and the others magical scenes of the show.