Photo: Mata Hari performing in 1906, wearing only bra and jewelry
Mata Hari brought to the European stage a carefree provocative style of oriental dance, she picked up during her stay in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and her style was an instant hit with the audiences. Her dance style was spectacularly successful and she elevated exotic dance to a more respectable status, thereby breaking new ground in a style of entertainment for which Paris later became world famous. Her free-willed attitude and uninhibited dancing in exotic and revealing clothing made her a very popular woman. She posed for provocative photos and mingled in circles of wealthy and powerful men in politics, royalty, and military, not only in Paris but all other capitals and major cities of European countries. In that period, as most Europeans were unfamiliar with the Dutch East Indies and thought of Mata Hari as exotic, it was assumed her claims of being a Javanese princess of Hindu origin were genuine. By 1910, innumerable imitators of her exotic dance style had arisen in Paris and other European cities.