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Sunday, 13 October 2013


Cabaret is a form of entertainment featuring variety turns. The audience usually sits at tables, often dining or drinking and the entertainment is often oriented towards adult audiences.

The first cabaret was opened in Montmartre, Paris on November 18, 1881 by the painter Rudolphe Salis. His Montmartre premises housed not only Friday night poetry readings but also elaborate shadow plays, scripted, designed and musically accompanied by leading artists.

Salis called his entertainment a cabaret because the songs and sketches were set forth like courses on a menu. Its name derives from the French 'cambret' meaning tavern.

Pyotr Tchaikovsky's quick waltz in the middle of the second movement of his Piano Concerto in B Flat was borrowed from the French cabaret song "Il faut s'amuser, danser et rire." ("One must have fun, dance and laugh").

The Moulin Rouge, which means Red Mill in French, opened in Paris on October 6, 1889. The cabaret venue is known as the birthplace of the modern form of the can-can.

Poster by Jules Chéret, 1890
In Germany, the first true cabaret was the Bunte Bühne (Motley Stage), created by Baron Ernst von Wolzogen and Otto Julius Bierbaum in 1901 to offer a superior form of variety show. The same year saw the founding of Berlin's Schall und Rauch (Noise and Smoke) by the young Max Reinhardt and actors of the Deutsches Theater.

Cabaret entertainment was imported to America from France by Jesse Louis Lasky in 1911.

Berlin became a centre for an increasingly political cabaret in the 1920s. Marlene Dietrich and Margo Lion's 1928 song "Wenn die beste Freundin" marked the biggest period of cabaret's popularity, and was an important and early song to deal with lesbianism. The entertainment was later suppressed by the Nazis.

The term karaoke means "empty orchestra" in Japanese, and the karaoke machine was designed originally to provide backing tracks for solo cabaret performers.

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