Skirt Dancing, Cancan and the Invention of ‘Gay Paree’ 1867-1914

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This talk will consider how an unlikely cross-Channel coalition of skirt-dancers, purity campaigners, magistrates, music hall singers and visual artists conspired together in the years between 1867 and the Great War to create that "invisible city" we know as "Gay Paree": a city located largely in the imagination. It challenges the familiar account of cancan's emergence, itself founded on a tendency to see Paris and London as polar opposites. The construction of Gay Paree played up to these stereotypes even as it covertly challenged them, turning them into a lucrative brand for impresarios on both sides of the Channel to exploit mercilessly. Talk given by Dr Jonathan Conlin, University of Southampton. £1 to attend, students free.