From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Folies Bergère is a Parisian music hall which was at the height of its fame and popularity from the 1890s through the 1920s. As of 2008 the institution is still in business. The Folies Bergère inspired the Ziegfeld Follies in the United States and other similar shows. One of its most popular representations, Édouard Manet's 1882 well-known painting A Bar at the Folies-Bergère depicts a bar-girl, one of the demimondaine, standing before a mirror.
The name was the word "folies", derived from the Latin word for "leaves" (foliae), connoting the idea of an outdoors entertainment venue, combined with the name of one of the adjacent streets, the "rue Trevise". (It was on the intersection of the rue Richter and the rue Trevise.) Unfortunately, the Duc de Trevise, a prominent nobleman, did not want people to think that he was associated with a bawdy dance hall. As a result, it was renamed the Folies Bergère on 13 September 1872, after another nearby street, the rue Bergère. 
The Folies Bergère catered to popular taste. Shows featured elaborate costumes; the women's were frequently revealing, and shows often contained a good deal of nudity. Shows also played up the "exoticness" of persons and things from other cultures, obliging the Parisian fascination with "négritude" of the 1920s.
In the early 1890s, the American dancer Loie Fuller starred at the Folies Bergères. Nearly thirty years later, Josephine Baker, an African-American expatriate singer, dancer, and entertainer, became an "overnight sensation" at the Folies Bergère in 1926 with her suggestive "banana dance", in which she wore a skirt made of bananas (and little else).