The Moulin Rouge [1971]


Everybody has to leave!

My junior year in college I was lucky enough to take a course that included a trip to London, Paris, Rome and Malta with kids from a half-dozen midwestern schools.  Round trip plane fare, three weeks of hotel rooms and meals, plus college credits, all for under $1,000 (1971 dollars).   Made a bunch of new friends, including a small town Iowa guy who was the quarterback of the Luther College football team.   In Paris he and I went out-on-the-town looking for some action (a bar with single girls).  We headed to the only place we’d heard about, the Moulin Rouge.  Most of the bars had some guy in front saying “Girls, Girls, Girls, Come Right In,” but it all seemed too red-lightish to me and I said to my friend, “Let’s find some other part of town with real girls.”

A football QB in Paris

A football QB in Paris

After having no success in any part of town, he convinced me to return to the Moulin Rouge.  It was well past midnite.  There was still one guy hawking in front of an establishment, and no cover charge, so we went in.  Sure enough as soon as we sat down at the bar, two pretty girls sidled up to us.  “Whiis-keey for meee?” they asked sounding more French than English.  Sure we said, but when the bartender said that’ll be 45 francs each (like $50 in today’s money), I knew we’d been taken.  But lo and behold, we were invited down some stairs into a private room with a dance floor, soft music, low lights, and plush red couches.  Okay, I thought, maybe this will be worth it.  Then my quarterback friend, Bill, whispered to me, “They want us to buy them a bottle of wine.”

“Are you kidding?!” I said, “Do you know how much a bottle of wine will cost??!!”

“I don’t care,” he said, “I’m doing it.”  A couple minutes later he was signing over every one of his Traveler’s Checks to the bar.  Okay, I thought, this should be fun.

But no sooner had we popped the cork, then one of the bouncer guys came down and said in perfectly good English, “Closing time – everybody has to leave.”  Now Bill was a pretty big guy, but this guy was bigger – and he had reinforcements, so despite our protestations, we were back out on the street with no girls and Bill with no money.  He was super-pissed.  We waited for awhile to see if anyone else came out or in, but no sign of life.  Then, from across the street, maybe 40 yards down, to my surprise and awe Bill heaved this perfect spiral of a rock right through their plate glass window — and I outran him to our hotel.




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