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originally an improvised presentation given by poets, musicians, or actors in literary and artistic cafés. The performers read poetry, sang topical ditties, and staged short, satirical sketches. There was a master of ceremonies to help create an unconstrained and gay atmosphere. Cabarets became widespread in France (mostly Paris) in the 1880’s but lost their improvisational character gradually, as the bourgeoisie began frequenting them and professional artists from variety shows began to appear on their stages.
In Russia two of the most popular cabarets were LetuchaiaMysh (The Bat) in Moscow and Krivoe Zerkalo (The Distorting Mirror) in St. Petersburg, both founded in 1908. In present-daybourgeois countries cabarets are restaurants with variety showsthat are usually intended solely for entertainment and occasion-ally have erotic and vulgar overtones.