The building on U.S. 190 on the western outskirts of Opelousas has been slowly tumbling down since it was closed in 1996, but in its day it was what swamp pop historian Shane Bernard describes as, "one of the oldest, perhaps the largest, certainly the most-legendary swamp pop nightspot" in south Louisiana."
Bernard wrote about a visit to the old club as it might have been in the days when Lionel "Chick" Vidrine made it the spot that outshone such legendary rivals as the Step Inn Club and the Green Lantern in Lawtell, the Purple Peacock in Eunice, the Jungle Lounge and the Rendezvous in Ville Platte.
"You enter the vast, smoky, dimly lit structure, cross a dance floor of swirling couples and glance at the familiar figures mingling around the bandstand: Johnnie Allan, Warren Storm, Rod Bernard, Tommy McLain, Clint West, Bobby Charles.
"A motley group, one performer might wear sneakers, worn-out blue jeans and perhaps an old letter jacket; another, two-toned suedes, pleated slacks, a fancy dress coat and a flashy tie studded with musical notes.
" Most share an interest in pomade and wild pompadours, but some prefer the simple flattop. Allan takes the stage as a guitarist bangs out a random riff, a drummer stomps his bass pedal and a mike screeches momentarily.
"The singer gives a quick nod and the band breaks into the opening strains of a typically gut-wrenching South Louisiana ballad. Eyes shut tightly, his face contorted as though in pain, Allan belts: Lonely days and lonely nights, Dear, I cry myself to sleep.... You've just observed swamp pop in its natural habitat."
Johnnie Allan and The Memories were the house band at the club for a while, but yielded the stage regularly to big-time talent. Fats Domino played the Southern Club five times. Chuck Berry, Dee Clark, Jimmy Reed, Loretta Lynn and her sister Crystal Gayle were among the music legends who brought in the crowds.
Chick opened the club in 1949 and ran it until his death in January 1994. His wife continued to run it for several years, but it got to be too much.
It closed in 1996 and today offers only "stacked tables and chairs, dusty billiards tables and a maze of faded puzzle pieces strewn about the floor," according to a description by Opelousas reporter Zane Hill. There's a big hole in the ceiling in the back room.
But Rayburn Vidrine and Ron-ald Credeur, Chick's brother and cousin, think the club can make a comeback - perhaps as a night club, more likely as something else.
They are working with John Sharp and Jennifer Guidry of ULL's Center for Cultural and Eco-Tourism to get it listed on the National Historic Register, which would pave way for grants.
That's a time-consuming process that requires much documentation, but a start has been made.
You can contact Jim Bradshaw at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1121, Washington LA 70589.