Cajun and Caribbean cultures meet at new venue

The latest addition to Shreveport’s entertainment scene isn’t just another downtown club. From the sound of upbeat zydeco music inside that flows through the outdoor speakers near the entrance to the island-style awning that covers the bar area, the antique decor and the Cajun-themed memorabilia lining the walls, Lake Street Dance Hall is where South Louisiana and Caribbean culture blend into one unique experience.

And for the owner, Dr. Bill Pogue, that’s the whole point.

“When we presented it to the (Shreveport Downtown Development Authority) we told them this was not just going to be another bar, but a place where we showcase music not just from the region, but the state,” Pogue said.

The no-smoking venue includes a stage and dance floor and much of the club’s style, design and offerings are reflective of the Hammond native’s experience growing up in South Louisiana, as well as the time he spent living in Trinidad and Tobago.

For instance, the venue will feature Caribbean, zydeco and oldies rock and roll, with live performances on a weekly basis, starting out.

Every Saturday, from 9 a.m. to noon will be the Breakfast Dance, based on an old, popular Cajun tradition where people gather on Saturday mornings for zydeco music and dancing.

Every Sunday afternoon, from noon to 4 p.m. will be Sunday School, featuring soca music, Caribbean jerk chicken and black beans. The event is named after a popular outdoor street party held every weekend in Trinidad.

“I’m really hoping to find a soca band, that’s a regular part of Sunday School,” Pogue said.

Guests got a chance to check out the dance hall during its recent VIP grand opening night. The diverse crowd included everyone from young professionals to baby boomers, all stopping by to explore the new place.

Local favorite the Bill Bush Combo launched into “When the Saints Go Marching In” and, in minutes, a New Orleans’ style second line formed with patrons waving their white handkerchiefs and umbrellas in the air.

Young friends Katie Rickert and Ashley Edwards were all smiles as they looked on from the second-floor balcony. “I love the place”» the live music”» it’s just a really cool atmosphere,” Rickert said.

Edwards added. “I like that it’s an open atmosphere where you can have good conversation and good music,” she said.

Martha Coleman and Tom Ward sat at a table on the first floor taking it all in.

“It’s nice to find a place that caters to people my age and with good music and good drinks, you can’t go wrong,” Coleman said.

Ward added, “I’m glad to see something new here. These are great old buildings. This is history and if they can be refurbished, that’s better than tearing them down,” he said.

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