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When she was little, all she dreamed of was to be a great, glamorous dancer. Her mother earned a living by working in a laundry. She often borrowed the colorful dresses of the customers and snuck into dance halls. Her most famous dance move was the one where she would do a high kick while tipping off a man's hat with her toe. Soon, she was a local celebrity in the nightclubs of Paris.
Montmartre in the 1890s was a dangerous place. It was known for the revolutionary politics and underground culture. The area thrived with the bohemian culture that mocked the Third Republic's bourgeois morality. Class boundaries were blurred and Montmartre turned into a place for escape from the rest of the world. Then in 1889, Moulin Rouge was opened. It had extravagant shows and outrageous performances every night, and the infamous can-can dance was performed by the dancers. In October 1890, The Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII booked a table to see the quadrilles which were known in all of Europe by then. La Goulue recognized him and called out in the middle of the dance, saying "Hey Wales, champagne's on you tonight!". Her image would later be immortalized in the portraits and posters painted by the famous artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
But her fame didn't last long. She invested her earnings in a show that traveled the country as part of a large fair. The men who had lined up to see her dance in the Moulin Rouge did not want to see her new business venture, and the show failed. La Goulue sank into depression, lost all her fortunes and finally resorted to selling cigarettes and peanuts on the street corner near Moulin Rouge. But no one recognized the once Queen of Montmartre who had turned into an alcoholic and a penniless destitute. She died in 1929 and now rests in the Cimetiere de Montmartre.