Cabaret is a form of theatrical
entertainment Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest In finance Finance is the study of financial institutions, financial markets and how they operate within the financial system. It is concerned with the creatio ...

music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated concepts , , and ...

song A song is a musical composition intended to be performed by the human voice. This is often done at melody, distinct and fixed pitches (melodies) using patterns of sound and silence. Songs contain various song form, forms, such as those includi ...

dance Dance is a consisting of sequences of movement, either improvised or purposefully selected. This movement has and often value. Dance can be categorized and described by its , by its repertoire of movements, or by its or . An importan ...

recitation A recitation in a general sense is the act of reciting from memory, or a formal reading of verse or other writing before an audience. Academic recitation In academia An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημ ...
, or
drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama, radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a g ...

. It is mainly distinguished by the performance venue, which might be a
pub A pub (short for public house) is an establishment licensed to serve alcoholic drinks for consumption on the premises. The term ''public house'' first appeared in the late 17th century, and was used to differentiate private houses from ...

, a
casino A casino is a facility for certain types of gambling File:A photo of a gambling stand in Paris.jpg, A gambling stand in Paris Gambling (also known as betting) is the wagering of money or something of Value (economics), value (referred to as ...

, a
hotel A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis. Facilities provided inside a hotel room may range from a modest-quality mattress in a small room to large suites with bigger, higher-quality beds, a dresser, a refr ...

, a
restaurant A restaurant is a business Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling Product (business), products (such as goods and services). Simply put, it is "any activity or enterprise entered i ...

, or a
nightclub A nightclub (music club, discothèque, disco club, or simply ''club'') is an entertainment venue during night Night (also described as night time, night-time, or nighttime, unconventionally spelled as ''nite'') is the period of ambient ...
with a stage for performances. The audience, often dining or drinking, does not typically dance but usually sits at tables. Performances are usually introduced by a
master of ceremonies A master of ceremonies, abbreviated MC or emcee, is the official host of a ceremony A ceremony (, ) is a unified ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gesture A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication or non-voca ...
or MC. The entertainment, as done by an ensemble of actors and according to its European origins, is often (but not always) oriented towards adult audiences and of a clearly
underground Underground most commonly refers to: * Subterranea (geography), the regions beneath the surface of the Earth Underground may also refer to: Places Commercial and cultural venues * The Underground (Boston), a music club in the Allston neighborhood ...
nature. In the United States
striptease A striptease is an or exotic in which the performer gradually undresses, either partly or completely, in a and manner. The person who performs a striptease is commonly known as a "" or exotic dancer. In Western countries, the venues where ...

burlesque A burlesque is a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects. Shakespeare William Shakespeare (baptism, bapt. 26 April ...
drag show A drag show is a form of entertainment performed by drag artists impersonating men or women. Typically, a drag show involves performers singing or lip-synching to songs while performing a pre-planned pantomime or dancing. There might also be so ...
s, or a solo vocalist with a pianist, as well as the
venues Venue is the location at which an event takes place. It may refer to: Locations * Venue (law), the place a case is heard * Financial trading venue, a place or system where financial transactions can occur * Music venue, place used for a concert ...
which offer this entertainment, are often advertised as cabarets.


The term originally came from
Picard language Picard (, also , ) is a ''langue d'oïl'' of the Romance languages, Romance language family spoken in the northernmost part of France and Hainaut province in Belgium. Administratively, this area is divided between the French Hauts-de-France regi ...
Walloon language Walloon (; natively ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin is a range of inf ...
words ''camberete'' or ''cambret'' for a small room (12th century). The first printed use of the word ''kaberet'' is found in a document from 1275 in
Tournai Tournai or Tournay ( ; ; nl, Doornik ; pcd, Tornai; wa, Tornè ; la, Tornacum) is a city and Municipalities in Belgium, municipality of Wallonia located in the Hainaut Province, province of Hainaut, Belgium. It lies southwest of Brussels on t ...

. The term was used since the 13th century in
Middle Dutch Middle Dutch is a collective name for a number of closely related West Germanic dialects whose ancestor was Old Dutch In linguistics, Old Dutch or Old Low Franconian is the set of Franconian dialects (i.e. dialects that evolved from Frankish l ...
to mean an inexpensive inn or restaurant (''caberet'', ''cabret''). The word ''cambret'', itself probably derived from an earlier form of ''chambrette'', little room, or from the Norman French ''chamber'' meaning tavern, itself derived from the Late Latin word ''camera'' meaning an arched roof.

National history

French taverns

Cabarets had appeared in Paris by at least the late fifteenth century. They were distinguished from taverns because they served food as well as wine, the table was covered with a cloth, and the price was charged by the plate, not the mug., page 737 They were not particularly associated with entertainment even if musicians sometimes performed in both.Jim Chevallier, ''A History of the Food of Paris: From Roast Mammoth to Steak Frites'', 2018, , pp. 67-80 Early on, cabarets were considered better than taverns; by the end of the sixteenth century, they were the preferred place to dine out. In the seventeenth century, a clearer distinction emerged when taverns were limited to selling wine, and later to serving roast meats. Cabarets were frequently used as meeting places for writers, actors, friends and artists. Writers such as
La Fontaine#REDIRECT Jean de La Fontaine Jean de La Fontaine (, , ; 8 July 162113 April 1695) was a French fabulist and one of the most widely read French poets of the 17th century. He is known above all for his '' Fables'', which provided a model for subs ...

La Fontaine
Jean Racine Jean Racine ( , ), baptismal name, baptized Jean-Baptiste Racine (; 22 December 163921 April 1699), was a France, French dramatist, one of the three great playwrights of 17th-century France, along with Molière and Pierre Corneille, Corneille ...

Jean Racine
were known to frequent a cabaret called the ''Mouton Blanc'' on rue du Vieux-Colombier, and later the ''Croix de Lorraine'' on the modern rue Bourg-Tibourg. In 1773 French poets, painters, musicians and writers began to meet in a cabaret called ''Le Caveau'' on rue de Buci, where they composed and sang songs. The Caveau continued until 1816, when it was forced to close because its clients wrote songs mocking the royal government.

French music venues

In the 18th century the ''café-concert'' or ''café-chantant'' appeared, which offered food along with music, singers, or magicians. The most famous was the ''Cafe des Aveugles'' in the cellars of the
Palais-Royal The Palais-Royal () is a former royal palace located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, 1st arrondissement of Paris, France. The screened entrance court faces the Place du Palais-Royal, opposite the Louvre. Originally called the Palais-Cardinal, ...

, which had a small orchestra of blind musicians. In the early 19th century many cafés-chantants appeared around the city; the most famous were the Café des Ambassadeurs (1843) on the
Champs-Élysées The Avenue des Champs-Élysées (, , ) is an Avenue (landscape), avenue in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, France, long and wide, running between the Place de la Concorde in the east and the Place Charles de Gaulle in the west, where the Arc d ...

and the Eldorado (1858) on boulevard Strasbourg. By 1900, there were more than 150 cafés-chantants in Paris. The first cabaret in the modern sense was Le Chat Noir in the Bohemian neighborhood of
Montmartre Image:StPierreParis.jpg, upSaint-Pierre de Montmartre (originally 1133, much of it destroyed in 1790 and rebuilt in the 19th century) seen from the dome of the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur Montmartre ( , , ) is a large hill in 18th arrondissem ...

, created in 1881 by
Rodolphe Salis Louis Rodolphe Salis ( – ) was the creator, host and owner of the Le Chat Noir ("The Black Cat") cabaret (known briefly in 1881 at its beginning as "Cabaret Artistique.") With this establishment Salis is remembered as the creator of the modern ...

Rodolphe Salis
, a theatrical agent and entrepreneur. It combined music and other entertainment with political commentary and satire. The Chat Noir brought together the wealthy and famous of Paris with the Bohemians and artists of Montmartre and the Pigalle. Its clientele a mixture of writers and painters, of journalists and students, of employees and high-livers, as well as models, prostitutes and true grand dames searching for exotic experiences."Cited in Fierro, ''Histoire et Dictionnaire de Paris'', pg. 738 The host was Salis himself, calling himself a gentleman-''cabaretier''; he began each show with a monologue mocking the wealthy, ridiculing the deputies of the National Assembly, and making jokes about the events of the day. The cabaret was too small for the crowds trying to get in; at midnight on June 10, 1885 Salis and his customers moved down the street to a larger new club at 12 rue de Laval, which had a decor described as "A sort of Beirut with Chinese influences." The composer , after finishing his studies at the Conservatory, earned his living playing the piano at the Chat Noir. By 1896 there were fifty-six cabarets and cafes with music in Paris, along with a dozen music halls. The cabarets did not have a high reputation; one critic wrote in 1897 that "they sell drinks which are worth fifteen centimes along with verses which, for the most part, are worth nothing." The traditional cabarets, with monologues and songs and little decor, were replaced by more specialized venues; some, like the ''Boite a Fursy'' (1899), specialized in current events, politics and satire. Some were purely theatrical, producing short scenes of plays. Some focused on the macabre or erotic. The ''Caberet de la fin du Monde'' had servers dressed as Greek and Roman gods and presented living tableaus that were between erotic and pornographic.Fierro (1996) page 738 By the end of the century there were only a few cabarets of the old style remaining where artists and bohemians gathered. They included the '' Cabaret des noctambules'' on Rue Champollion on the Left Bank; the
Lapin Agile Au Lapin Agile (June 2011) Lapin Agile is a famous Montmartre cabaret Cabaret is a form of theatrical entertainment Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and Interest (emotion), interest of an audience or gives ...
at Montmartre; and ''Le Soleil d'or'' at the corner of the quai Saint-Michel and boulevard Saint-Michel, where poets including Guillaume Apollinaire and André Salmon met to share their work. The music hall#music halls of Paris, music hall, first invented in London, appeared in Paris in 1862. It offered more lavish musical and theatrical productions, with elaborate costumes, singing and dancing. The theaters of Paris, fearing competition from the music halls, had a law passed by the National Assembly forbidding music hall performers to wear costumes, dance, wear wigs, or recite dialogue. The law was challenged by the owner of the music hall ''Eldorado'' in 1867, who put a former famous actress from the Comédie-Française on stage to recite verse from Corneille and Racine. The public took the side of the music halls, and the law was repealed. The ''Moulin Rouge'' was opened in 1889 by the Catalan Joseph Oller. It was greatly prominent because of the large red imitation windmill on its roof, and became the birthplace of the dance known as the French Cancan. It helped make famous the singers Mistinguett and Édith Piaf and the painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Toulouse-Lautrec, who made posters for the venue. The ''Olympia'', also run by Oller, was the first to be called a music hall; it opened in 1893, followed by the Alhambra Music Hall in 1902, and the Printania in 1903. The Printania, open only in summer, had a large ''music garden'' which seated twelve thousand spectators, and produced dinner shows which presented twenty-three different acts, including singers, acrobats, horses, mimes, jugglers, lions, bears and elephants, with two shows a day.Fierro (1996), page 1006 In the 20th century, the competition from motion pictures forced the dance halls to put on shows that were more spectacular and more complex. In 1911, the producer Jacques Charles of the Olympia Paris created the grand staircase as a setting for his shows, competing with its great rival, the ''Folies Bergère'' which had been founded in 1869. Its stars in the 1920s included the American singer and dancer Josephine Baker. The Casino de Paris, directed by Leon Volterra and then Henri Varna, presented many famous French singers, including Mistinguett, Maurice Chevalier and Tino Rossi. ''Le Lido'' on the Champs-Élysées opened in 1946, presenting Édith Piaf, Laurel & Hardy, Shirley MacLaine, Marlene Dietrich, Maurice Chevalier and Noël Coward. The Crazy Horse (cabaret), Crazy Horse Saloon, featuring strip-tease, dance and magic, opened in 1951. The Olympia Paris went through a number of years as a movie theater before being revived as a music hall and concert stage in 1954. Performers there included Piaf, Dietrich, Miles Davis, Judy Garland, and the Grateful Dead. A handful of music halls exist today in Paris, attended mostly by visitors to the city; and a number of more traditional cabarets, with music and satire, can be found.

Dutch (from 1885)

In the Netherlands, cabaret or ''kleinkunst'' (literally: "small art") is a popular form of entertainment, usually performed in theatres. The birth date of Dutch cabaret is usually set at August 19, 1895. In Amsterdam, there is the Kleinkunstacademie (English: Cabaret Academy). It is often a mixture of (stand-up) comedy, theatre, and music and often includes social themes and political satire. In the mid twentieth century, "the big three" were Wim Sonneveld, Wim Kan, and Toon Hermans. Nowadays, many cabaret shows of popular "cabaretiers" (performers of cabaret) are broadcast on national television, especially on New Year's Eve, when several special cabaret shows are aired where the cabaretier usually reflects on large events of the past year.

German (from 1901)

German ''Kabarett'' developed from 1901, with the creation of the Überbrettl (''Superstage'') venue, and by the Weimar era in the mid-1920s, the ''Kabarett'' performances were characterized by political satire and gallows humor. It shared the characteristic atmosphere of intimacy with the French cabaret from which it was imported, but the gallows humor was a distinct German aspect.(1997
''The new encyclopaedia Britannica''
, Volume 2, p.702 quote:

Polish (from 1905)

The Polish ''kabaret'' is a popular form of live (often televised) entertainment involving a comedy troupe, and consisting mostly of comedy sketch (comedy), sketches, monologues, stand up comedy, songs and political satire (often hidden behind double entendre to fool Censorship in the People's Republic of Poland, censors).
It traces its origins to Zielony Balonik, a famous literary cabaret founded in Kraków by local poets, writers and artists during the final years of the Partitions of Poland.The Little Green Balloon (Zielony Balonik).
''Akademia Pełni Życia,'' Kraków.
Zielony Balonik.
2011 ''Instytut Książki'', Poland.

In post-World War II, war Poland it is almost always associated with the Dance troupe, troupe (often Touring theatre, on tour), not the Theater (structure), venue; pre-war revue shows (with female dancers) were long gone.

American (from 1911)

American cabaret was imported from French cabaret by Jesse Louis Lasky in 1911. In the United States, cabaret diverged into several different styles of performance mostly due to the influence of jazz music. Chicago cabaret focused intensely on the larger band ensembles and reached its peak during Roaring Twenties, under the Prohibition in the United States, Prohibition Era, where it was featured in the speakeasies and steakhouses. New York cabaret never developed to feature a great deal of social commentary. When New York cabarets featured jazz, they tended to focus on famous vocalists like Nina Simone, Bette Midler, Eartha Kitt, Peggy Lee, and Hildegarde rather than instrumental musicians. Julius Monk's annual revues established the standard for New York cabaret during the late 1950s and '60s. Cabaret in the United States began to decline in the 1960s, due to the rising popularity of rock concert shows, television variety shows, and general comedy theaters. However, it remained in some Las Vegas-style dinner shows, such as the Tropicana Resort & Casino, Tropicana, with fewer comedy segments. The art form still survives in various musical formats, as well as in the stand-up comedy format, and in popular
drag show A drag show is a form of entertainment performed by drag artists impersonating men or women. Typically, a drag show involves performers singing or lip-synching to songs while performing a pre-planned pantomime or dancing. There might also be so ...
performances. The late 20th and early 21st century saw a revival of American cabaret, particularly in New Orleans, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Oregon, Portland, Philadelphia, Orlando, Florida, Orlando, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tulsa, Asheville, North Carolina, and Kansas City, Missouri, as new generations of performers reinterpret the old forms in both music and theater. Many contemporary cabaret groups in the United States and elsewhere feature a combination of original music,
burlesque A burlesque is a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects. Shakespeare William Shakespeare (baptism, bapt. 26 April ...
and political satire. In New York City, since 1985, successful, enduring or innovative cabaret acts have been honored by the annual Bistro Awards.

British (from 1912)

The Cabaret Theatre Club, later known as The Cave of the Golden Calf, was opened by Frida Uhl, Frida Strindberg (modelled on the Kaberett Fledermaus in Strindberg's native Vienna) in a basement at 9 Heddon Street, London, in 1912. She intended her club to be an avant-garde meeting place for bohemian writers and artists, with decorations by Jacob Epstein, Eric Gill and Wyndham Lewis, but it rapidly came to be seen as an amusing place for high society and went bankrupt in 1914. The Cave was nevertheless an influential venture, which introduced the concept of cabaret to London. It provided a model for the generation of nightclubs that came after it. "The clubs that started the present vogue for dance clubs were the Cabaret Club in Heddon Street . . . . The Cabaret Club was the first club where members were expected to appear in evening clothes. . . . The Cabaret Club began a system of vouchers which friends of members could use to obtain admission to the club. . . . the question of the legality of these vouchers led to a famous visitation of the police. That was the night a certain Duke was got out by way of the kitchen lift . . . The visitation was a well-mannered affair'

Swedish (from 1970s)

In Stockholm, an Underground music, underground show called ''Fattighuskabarén'' (''Poor House Cabaret'') opened in 1974 and ran for 10 years. Performers of later celebrity and fame (in Sweden) such as Ted Åström, Örjan Ramberg, and Agneta Lindén began their careers there. ''Wild Side Story'' also had several runs in Stockholm, at Alexandra Charles, Alexandra's (1976 with Ulla Jones and Christer Lindarw), Camarillo (1997), Rosenlundsteatern/Teater Tre (2000), Wild Side Lounge at Bäckahästen (2003 with Helena Mattsson) and Mango Bar (2004). Alexandra's had also hosted ''AlexCab'' in 1975, as had Compagniet in Gothenburg.Lasse Råde in ''Göteborgs-Tidningen'' 1975-11-21 ”Jubelshow!” p. 16

Notable venues

* The Butterfly Club, Butterfly Club in Melbourne, Australia * Cabane Choucoune in Port-au-Prince, Haiti * Cabaret Red Light in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania * Cabaret Voltaire (Zürich), Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich * Carlyle Hotel, Café Carlyle in New York City * Café de Paris (London), Café de Paris in London, England * American Cabaret Theatre, The Cabaret in Indianapolis, Indiana * Cabaret rooms at various Chuck E. Cheese, Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatres * Crazy Horse (cabaret), Crazy Horse in Paris, France * Darling Cabaret in Prague * El Mocambo in Toronto, Ontario, Canada * Feinstein's/54 Below in New York City * Folies Bergere in Paris, France *
Lapin Agile Au Lapin Agile (June 2011) Lapin Agile is a famous Montmartre cabaret Cabaret is a form of theatrical entertainment Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and Interest (emotion), interest of an audience or gives ...
in Paris, France * Le Lido in Paris, France * Metro Chicago in Chicago, Illinois * Moulin Rouge in Paris, France * Tropicana Club, The Tropicana in Havana, Cuba

See also

* Cabaret (1972 film), ''Cabaret'' (1972 film) * ''Cabaret Paradis'' * Dinner theater * ''La Soirée'' * Nightclub act * Revue * Vedette (cabaret)




Notes and citations

External links

An Anatomy of Dutch Cabaret
article from the magazine ''The Low Countries'' (1994)
Dutch cabaret in 8 steps
article on 'The Netherlands by numbers' (2015)
''The Cabaret'', 1921 painting by Alexander Deyneka

"The last remaining true cabaret club in America
{{Authority control Cabaret, French inventions