To dance the cancan. A free-and-easy way of dancing quadrilles invented by Rigolboche, and adopted in the public gardens, the opera comique, and the casinos of Paris. (Cancan familiarity, tittle-tattle.)
They were going through a quadrille with all those supplementary gestures introduced by the great Rigolboche, a notorious danseuse, to whom the notorious cancan owes its origin.
—A. Egmont Hake: Paris Originals (the Chiffonier).
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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