On January 10, 2013, a tornado peeled back the roof of the La Poussière dancehall. The damage was extensive–water logged ceiling, busted sheet rock, roof, rafter, and electrical damage, as well as destroying the entire kitchen. Facing thousands of dollars in repair bills, the owners, Lawrence, Judith, and Nicole Patin were distraught. The hall is a family tradition started by Lawrence’s parents in 1955. Running a dancehall had always been a time consuming second job for the family, so immediately after the storm they were faced with a tough decision–whether or not it was time to close down La Poussière for good.
Unknown to the Patins, a plan to cover the repairs was hatched before the damage was even assessed. A few of the musicians who consider La Poussière a second home got on the phone and arranged a benefit concert with an all-star lineup. By the following Monday, local companies had started the repairs. In less than one month the doors were once again open for business. Held on February 2nd, the benefit–dubbed “The Welcome Home Celebration”–was a twelve-hour dancing marathon. Artists donating their time and talent to the cause included Jackie Callier and the Cajun Cousins, Geno Delafose and French Rockin Boogie, Cheryl Cormier and Cajun Sound, High Performance, Walter Mouton and the Scott Playboys, and Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys. Over the course of the day, over eight hundred people came to honor La Poussière and witness it made whole again. The response was so great that it was almost necessary to dance in shifts.
For over forty years, Walter Mouton and the Scott Playboys appeared weekly at La Poussière, which means “The Dust” in Louisiana French, for their Saturday night dance. Mouton is famous not only for his longevity, but for the fact that his well-known band does not have a large recorded output–only a few scarce songs can be found on commercial releases. This is because they consider themselves a dance band–many longtime regulars at La Poussière can attest to this fact. Probably for this reason, La Poussière and Mouton are forever linked.
La Poussière is a long rectangular hall with the majority of the floor space dedicated to the dance floor. Along the wall and edge of the dance floor are tables, many designated as reserved by a plastic sign holding the name of a regular. Those regulars, mostly older, make a weekly trek from all over the southern portion of the state to visit and dance. The old time atmosphere, great Cajun music, a colorful cast of regulars, and the well-worn dance floor make a trip to Breaux Bridge to visit La Poussière a genuinely good time.
La Poussière features live music from various popular local Cajun bands every Saturday night around 7 p.m. Every Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m., Jackie Callier, Ivy Dugas and the Cajun Cousins play. They have their own unbroken streak going of playing once a week for almost 15 years! It is also worth noting that all events at La Poussière are smoke free.
John Sharp, a documentary filmmaker and folklorist, is the Assistant Director for Research at the Center for Louisiana Studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. His 2011 film, Water on Road, deals with the natural and man-made issues facing the Native American community of Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana. His current research and film project is Dancehalls of South Louisiana, for which he won the 2012 Louisiana Filmmaker award from Louisiana Economic Development. For more information on Sharp’s current project like him on Facebook or visit LouisianaDancehalls.com.