Heart of Louisiana: Barn dance

Image from lvpark.com
Image from lvpark.com

Tucked away in the back of the Lakeview RV Park on the edge of a cow pasture, you'll find this old barn.  And on most Saturday nights, the lights come on and you hear the sweet sounds of a fiddle and the rhythmic harmony of an accordion as Cajun music drifts across the Louisiana prairie.

The campground has been around since the 1960s, but the old barn is a more recent addition.

Owner Bonnie Pitre says, "Actually it was supposed to just be a maintenance barn when we first opened it."

The barn comes from an old sawmill in the town of Eunice. It was taken apart, moved a few miles up the road, and then put back together at the RV park.

The first time a band played in it a few years ago, the owner knew they were onto something special.

Pitre says, "Slowly we've been adding to it. First it was just a dirt floor, nothing here, and we had dances and we started adding the floor and then we added a bar and we've just been adding on to it. And it's been fun."

Except for a couple of months in the winter and summer, the barn dances are a weekly event.

Pitre says, "And it's slowly getting the younger generation involved. The older generation is no problem, they are used to this music and they really enjoy it."

And the dancers come from all over, like Nate Goldshlag who is a repeat visitor from Boston.

Goldshlag says, "This is like just ordinary people having a good time dancing.  Cajun music, it's great. It's real soulful. The waltzes, they're all sad but they're beautiful, the waltzes are beautiful and the two steps are hot, and it's just a good time."

Bandleader Paul Daigle picked up his first accordion at age ten.  Actually the accordion belonged to his brother who had just left for the army.

Daigle says, "One of the last things he said before he left was, 'Don't touch my accordion because I know you're going to break it.'"

Paul ignored his brother, started playing children's songs and then learned how to play Cajun by listening to an uncle who played Cajun accordion.

Daigle says, "He had stopped playing but I was fortunate enough that one of my older brothers had a tape recorded, had a reel-to-reel recorded, and had recorded him exclusively."

And that is the tradition of Cajun and folk music.  It's passed down from one generation to the next

Daigle says, "It's happy music, it makes you want to dance."

Tonight, the happy music also translates into happy feet.  Whether you come from north Louisiana or from the northern U.S.

Goldshlag says, "It's just a great environment, people are really loose, they're here to have a great time."

It just feels right to be dancing in a barn to Cajun music

The Lakeview RV Park and barn dance is located about three miles north of the town of Eunice.  For more information, go online to http://www.lvpark.com.