(Jan. 22) -- One place that has played an integral role in Las Vegas' integration was the Moulin Rouge. It was the first integrated casino here in the Valley, and it opened before segregation ended.
The Moulin Rouge isn't a casino any more; just apartments and a hotel now. But one showgirl who opened the place in 1955 remembers the excitement because it was the first establishment to see integration in Las Vegas.
Dee Dee Jasmin's home is like a Moulin Rouge casino museum. Her halls are covered with photos of her co-workers and all the stars who came to see them perform in 1955.
"It was so, so different than the shows on the Strip," she said, adding that the Moulin Rouge offered a "black show" that attracted black performers before they were famous, like Gregory and Maurice Hines and Lionel Hampton.
But it wasn't just the stage that was jumping. From its opening night, the place was packed.
"The main point was that it was interracial," Jasmin said. "The two races, they did want to mix and at that time, we could not go on the Strip at all."
The Moulin Rouge brought black and white people together in a time that racial fighting was going on outside the casino doors. It was such a unique concept that it was featured on the cover of Life magazine.
But the music sadly died just six months after it opened. The owners were said to have left with un-paid bills, and it was unclear to Jasmin whether it was ever their intention to keep the place open.
Seeing the Moulin rouge now is difficult for her: "Just a lump in my stomach, because knowing what it was and how much it gave to the people," she said.
Jasmin still keeps in touch with most of the 22 dancers she worked with. She is also the founder of a program called ETTA, Educating Through the Arts, which is an after-school arts program for local children.
The new Moulin Rouge owner is working with the Historical Preservation Society to open a museum here with the hopes of reopening the casino in the future.