La Goulue

“If you feel blue/Look through Who’s Who/See La Goulue” Roxy Music

Louise “La Goulue” Weber, French can-can dancer, 1866-1929


Charming and provocative, La Goulue was the star of Paris cabaret Le Moulin Rouge during the Belle Époque. Her nickname, meaning “the glutton,” referenced her finishing off patron’s drinks during her dance routines. Always precocious, while working with her mother in a laundry in her teens, she would try on the dresses and even borrow them to go dancing. Once discovered, she became the highest paid entertainer of her day, and was immortalized by the painter Toulouse-Lautrec in many of his famous paintings, unmistakeable in plunging necklines, signature black ribbon choker, and fantastical upswept hairstyle.

She often arrived at the Moulin Rouge with her pet goat, and her cheeky routines involved removing men’s hats with a single high kick and flipping up her skirts to reveal her sheer muslin knickers emblazoned with a heart. But hers is also a cautionary tale. When she went out on her own, and after a brief stint as a lion tamer in a travelling circus, the erstwhile “Queen of Montmartre” lived out her life peddling cigarettes and flowers on the street.

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