Don’t blame me if you were injured on the dance floor at Pat’s Atchafalaya Club last Sunday.
You were warned several months ago that I am not the world’s best Cajun dancer.
Last Sunday afternoon Dorsey and Laurin, Byron, Lucius Fontenot, Brandon Broussard, Mona Oglesby, Stephanie and I drove out to the levee inHenderson. Lucius was going to take some photos of several of our beers in their natural habitat (next to giant platters of Cajun food and also grasped by the club’s dancing couples). Afterwards we planned to get a quick bite to eat and a few drinks before the start of the LA-31 Dance Competition Finals. The competition had bracketed the contestants down over the last several months at several of Acadiana’s favorite dancehalls. Now there were only eight couples. The winner at Pat’s that night was to win a seven day cruise provided by Le Voyage travel.
And the Sunday competition was shaping up to be a boiled crawfish and beer fueled contest between old school two-stepping and young gun, freestyle jitter-bugging.
At seven, the band High Performance kicked off their evening show with a one-two-three, old school waltz. Now, I love to waltz more than just about anything else on the planet, so grabbing my bride we headed out to the dance floor.
You might have heard that I look like an arthritic tin man whose been left out in the rain (without the benefit of beaucoup amounts of WD-40 sprayed on his joints) while I dance…an arthritic and rusty tin man with a curious lack of rhythm.
My peculiar twitches and bizarre jerks aside, we glided in circles around the hardwood floor at Pat’s. Octogenarian couples waltzed past us like they were supped up Mercedes Benz’s going downhill on the Autobahn.
Then High Performance kicked off a rousing two-step.
If I stepped on you or your spouse’s feet, or if I either elbowed or pitched my wife into your significant other, I do apologize, I advise you wear protective gear if you find yourself on the same dance floor while I’m jitterbugging.
About an hour into the set, Steve Riley announced the beginning of the Dance Off. Seven couples confidently strutted onto the dance floor for the first round of the two round competition. Fans of the various duos were holding up signs pledging their support and the applause was deafening. The band started off with an old school waltz.
There were two strategies exercised by the rival couples. About half of the contestants danced old—school Cajun; a foot-dragging and smooth gliding waltz. The other half danced a slightly more contemporary waltz, showier footwork, more flashy twirls and spins. After this first waltz, High Performance jumped right into a pretty fast two-step.
And two steps are where you part the true dancers from arthritic and rusty tin men.
The dancing was finer than anything you ever saw on Dancing with the Stars – and when it was over, the panel of expert judges had whittled the field down to three couples.
The band had to take a twenty minute break (yes even Cajun musicians need to go to the bathroom) so all of the Bayou Teche Brewing crew staggered to the bar to get another round of cold bottles of LA-31s. When the band returned, they immediately fired up an up-tempo waltz as the first song for the final two dances of the competition. Three styles of dancing were represented by final couples. One couple was old school, dancing clutched to each other like you watched your grandparents do. The second couple was younger, forsaking the old school style of dancing for a newer, flashier and dancing open and away from each other form. The third couple waltzed a style somewhere in the middle between the schools, taking the best moves from each.
I’m glad I wasn’t one of the judges; I know I could not have picked a winner.
The band headed immediately into a very quick two-step. The dancers really stepped up their game – this was their last chance to impress the judges before the cruise was awarded. It became brutally competitive – I joked to our crew that next year we’d have to build an octagon-steel cage for what was becoming the Cajun Dance version of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. And I think I could win that one, what with my stepping on the other dancers toes, and knocking their spouses off the dance floor with my wild elbow gyrations and funky and out of time head-butts.
And in the end, old school proved victorious. The unanimously chosen, winning couple of the 2011 LA-31 dance off was Charlotte St. Romain and Tony Lavergne. The applause for them and all of the dancers was thunderously well deserved. I trust they will enjoy their hard-won seven days on the Le Voyage providedCaribbeancruise.
And I’m sure they will need all seven of those days to recuperate from this year’s competition
If you’ve been looking for a six pack of our first seasonal release, Courir de Mardi Gras let me apologize. We definitely did not anticipate the incredible demand for this beer. We brewed seventy-five barrels of our crafted version of a Biere de Mars, thinking that would fill all of the orders up to the start of Lent and leave us a little extra for our own imbibing too. We are totally out of Mardi Gras beer just after a week of sales. We sold every drop, not even a bottle left for ourselves.
We’ll brew a lot more next year.
*Special thanks to Le Voyage Travel for the grand prize, a 7-day cruise that went to the winners of the dance contest. When want to book a cruise give them a call:337 224 6927.