Back when my father was a young man, rural folks in Acadiana still held bals de maison, or house dances. The men would push the furniture to the walls and sweep the floors, while the women cooked a big gumbo and also some sweet dough pies. Since there were not any dance clubs within driving distance, these rural Cajuns would gather weekly and dance at their neighbor’s homes – until eventually it was their own turn to host one at home. At these house dances there were always dance contests – one for the best two-step, and one the best waltz.
I suspect my dad did not win any of those contests.
My dad tells us that later, when salles de dance (dance halls) started opening in rural St. Martin parish, there were still dance contests, though the halls added Jitterbug, Polka and Charleston categories to the competitions.
For over two centuries the Arnaudville Knotts have been cursed with an unexplainable inability to dance. Oh we love to two step and waltz – we just do not look good doing it. Two left feet does not describe it, unless they were Frankenstein’s feet. My grandfather was a bad dancer, as was his father. My father is pretty bad, as are my brothers. As for me, when I dance I look like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, if he was cursed with arthritis and a strange lack of rhythm.
And Frankenstein’s feet.
And curiously we all married women who love to and are fantastic dancers. I am sure my mom won some of those dance contests back in the day (surely before she met dad). I am sure my grandmother did too, she was also a fantastic dancer. My brothers’ wives, as well as my own could, if they were not handicapped by Knotts as partners.
When my brothers and I are sitting around the brewery, talking about those events in our Cajun culture that bisected with drinking beer, one thing that kept coming up (other than Bourée tournaments, trail rides and crawfish boils) was those old-time, Cajun-music driven dances.
So Byron and I did not think it odd when Dorsey and Laurin suggested we sponsor a LA-31 dance off. Keeping alive old Cajun and Creole traditions while enjoying crafted beers is like a Blues Brothers, “we’re on a mission from God” calling for us. Plus no one could accuse us of putting on a dance competition because we wanted to win any of the prizes for ourselves - it is beyond belief that our dancing abilities would allow that.
So put on your dancing shoes (or cowboy boots) and come out and see us this Sunday, February 27th at Whiskey River Landing on the Henderson Levee for the first LA-31 Dance off, presented by Schilling Distributing. We are kicking off at 4 pm with Jamie Bergeron and the Kicking Cajuns. The dance off will have three rounds, ending in a final elimination round to crown the overall best dancing couple.
I hear the prizes are very nice – and will include beaucoup LA-31 biere. While you are there look for my wife on the dance floor – her partner will be dancing like he has on Frankenstein’s boots.