I originally wrote this piece as an entry to a travel writing competition back in May. Obviously I didn’t win but I really like it anyway.
In it I talk about the Blue Moon Saloon, which to this day remains one of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed in. Check them out here.
I am always wary of a recommendation that includes the phrase ‘it’s where all the locals go!’ I’m even more suspicious when a venue is advertising ‘authentic local musicians’.
A couple of years ago in Morocco, my friend and I went into a restaurant that that had a similar sign outside. I’m not sure what we were expecting (maybe some kind of drumming) but we ended up being serenaded by a lone ex-hippie who insisted on singing only Beatles songs once he learnt we were from England. We were the sole customers in there and only managed to escape when my friend deliberately knocked over his drink to create a diversion so we could make a dash for the door.
So yeah, anywhere that advertises itself as a ‘local’ hang out immediately sends alarm bells ringing in my head.
But Laffayette, Louisianna is a small town. There’s only one hostel. It’s called the Blue Moon Saloon and guess what? It’s where all the local musicians go to hang out!
Great, I think as I pay for my dorm bed. Can’t wait to meet even more Europeans on my American holiday!
Evening rolls around and the temperature drops from death heat to moderately sweltering. I’m sat in my dorm as near to the air conditioner as I can get when I hear a fiddle start to play. Soon another one joins in then another then an accordion and some kind of double-bass. It sounds a little like Irish music but with an added country twang.
I like it. A lot.
I get up and head out onto the back porch. The whole place is packed out. People of all ages are gathered in groups around the edge of the porch nursing beers while couples dance in the centre, spinning and waltzing in circles. A cheer goes up when a voice starts crooning croaky vocals in French.
I’ve been stood there for about ten seconds when a man in a cowboy hat asks me to dance.
“Do ya know how to Cajun Two Step?” He asks, tipping his hat back to wipe his brow.
“I’m from London,” I say, because I’m not so good in the heat and a man in a cowboy hat has just asked me to dance.
“Well then let me show you!” He declares and off we go, two-stepping in amongst the other dancing bodies.
“Do you come here often?” I ask when we stop to get a drink between songs.
“Every Friday night for twenty-five years.” He says, meeting my eye. “It’s the best damn music venue in town.”
Later on when I’ve had to sit down and rehydrate with a beer, I see my dancing cowboy up on stage, accordion strapped across his chest and foot tapping in time.
Touché, Blue Moon Saloon Hostel. Touché.