Location: Ville Platte
From Facebook group “Cajun French Virtual Table Francaise”:
Herman Miller: “(I) Remember going there in late 50’s. Had a low age set for entering, just pay at the door, and they stapled a ticket on your shirt collar. You could go in and get to the bar from the dance hall to get beer. The band had a singer and guitarist with missing fingers on his left hand however; still played well. His signature song was “Red Sails in the Sunset”, played it by request 4or 5 times a night. Good times.”
AW Michot: ” (I) heard a story once about a guy who was there with his friends but he got too “tired” and went and passed out in the back of the car in the lot. When he woke up he was in the car halfway to Bayou Chicot with a couple in the front who he proceeded to scare the dickens out of.”
Terry McDaniel: “I’m from Pine Prarie, which was somehow a dry ward in the 1950s. I was a regular patron at both the Evangeline Club and Club Rendezvous from 1956-64. I had my first beer at the Evangeline Club at fourteen years old. Back then, if you could put the money on the bar, you could buy it. My buddies and I would take dates to the Evangeline Club to dance, then we’d take them home and go to Club Rendezvous, where the girls had looser restrictions and hours.
On the right hand side of the Evangeline was a room for the mothers to sit and supervise the daughters while they danced and courted. If they could, the girls would escape to the deepest corners of the club with their beaus. If they wanted to escape, they’d sneak out the fire escape door on the side and then later their friends would let them back inside through it too.
Otis Smith and his Orchestra played there regularly. Their most popular songs were “In the Mood” and “Barefoot Rock.” They would have to play those five or six times every night. The dance floor was always packed.
There were sometimes epic fights there between soldiers from Fort Polk and locals- particularly Oakdale boys. Sometimes the fights would grow so large that they’d spill out of the Evangeline and shut down Highway 10 outside. People would stand around on the porch and watch until it was over.”
From “Images of America: Ville Platte”, Arcadia Publishing, 2014 by Jean Keisel and Jane Vidrine: “The Evangeline Club, co-owned by brothers Clem and Claude Morein, was located one mile west of Ville Platte. It opened in 1935 and was especially popular with servicemen from nearby bases during World War II. It was known for featuring local bands and was teh site of many community functions. The club closed in 1984 and was demolished in 1988, but the memories live on…Dancing was a popular activity for young couples. Of all the clubs in Evangeline Parish, and there were many, the Evangeline Club was known for having the most popular bands. The best was the Otis Smith Orchestra, which played there five nights a week and on Sunday afternoons at 5:00 p.m. for many years…The Evangeline Club boasted a well-stocked bar and kitchen that offered full-course meals as well as sandwiches and snacks. The Evangeline Club was located near the corner of LA 10 and US 167 on the road to Vidrine. Currently the Evangeline Club sign hangs on the side of a private camp. Crawfish was served on Saturday nights after football games. Many people also remember seeing the Boogie Kings perform there. In addition to the excellent music offered there, the Evangeline club was reknowned for the frequent fights that occured there between patrons. As with many dancehall fights, it is usually noted that at least one of the participants was from a neighboring community.
Photo Credit: Ashlee Michot, Pam McGee, Bobby Dardeau, and Photo from the Johnnie Allan Collection at the Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Louisiana at Lafayette.