T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History
The Paradise Club
Judy Montgomery-Gauthia and Elaine Robinson by Chelsea Arseneault, 2016.
CHELSEA ARSENEAULT: Do you remember the first house he [Valery Montgomery] moved into in Mossville?

JUDY MONTGOMERY-GAUTHIA: I would assume right down the street from here. It was a . . . The address was 401 Prater Road. It used to be Route One I think . . . route . . . I think its Route One, Box 401.

ARSENEAULT: Is that the same address as the Paradise Club?


ELAINE ROBINSON: It was right across the street. Had a balcony on top.

MONTGOMERY-GAUTHIA: Oh, the club? Yeah. Yeah the . . . They had two parts. They had, like, a club part in the front and then they built . . . Later on, they built a dance hall. They wanted to have, you know, something so the people to come for entertainment.

ROBINSON: Had a stage.

MONTGOMERY-GAUTHIA: Big groups, a band . . . so that was some big entertainers came through.

ROBINSON: I’m telling you.

ARSENEAULT: What do y’all remember about the Paradise Club?

ROBINSON: I remember everything. [laughs] That was our little stomping ground. That’s where everybody went, to The Paradise. And he had a lot of concerts back in the days. We’d get to see all of the artists, the singers, you know. That place was popping.

MONTGOMERY-GAUTHIA: Tina Turner, Bobby Blue Bland, James Brown.

ROBINSON: James Brown.


ROBINSON: We’ve seen all of them here.


ROBINSON: Yeah, right there at the Paradise.

MONTGOMERY-GAUTHIA: Then they had a . . . like a little café and they would cook, like, short orders. I know my daddy brother, Wes, would barbeque and people would love his barbeque. He was a good cook. Then mama and them had the club part and they would sell the liquor and stuff . . . You’d hear all kind of stuff going on.

ROBINSON: But a lot of teens. There was more teens there than anything on weekends. Didn’t have too much older people there. During the weekdays, you know, daytime sometimes, but most of the time the weekends was the teenagers there.

ARSENEAULT: So what was a typical Saturday night like?

MONTGOMERY-GAUTHIA: They would all come in kind of late around eleven. Starting at eleven o’clock. Then they would start coming in. And they danced until they get tired and then mama would say, “Alright it’s time to shut it down,” stuff like that. So they’d have a good time. And everybody liked to go to The Paradise. ROBINSON: Go there and have a good time. Didn’t have no fighting and all of that. No shooting. They come from everywhere. It was a good place to be. You can go there and enjoy yourself and not have to worry about the . . . Nobody getting hurt. You can walk outside and go to your car. You didn’t have to worry about that either. They didn’t have the drugs . . .

MONTGOMERY-GAUTHIA: And sometimes some of them thought they was a good dancer, they would take turns trying to out-show the other one like, “Oh I got this move.”

ROBINSON: They had dance contests. They had plenty of them.

MONTGOMERY-GAUTHIA: [Agrees]. I got this move . . .

ROBINSON: I won some of them. And they used to give out albums, tickets to something, they had another place in Lake Charles that was Paul’s Auditorium.

Sometimes you could get tickets for that or tickets to different things.

ARSENEAULT: How did they advertise the musicians that were going to be there?

MONTGOMERY-GAUTHIA: They’d have it on the radio.

ROBINSON: And then they’d have it on posters.

MONTGOMERY-GAUTHIA: [Agrees]. My daddy would have us making some posters and they’d go tack them on the telephone trees. And posters . . .

ROBINSON: On the posters and on the stores, on the front of the stores, the stations. You see them. We didn’t have a Ticketmaster then. We didn’t have nowhere to buy no ticket. You come get them here, or you get them at the door, or whoever was selling them.

MONTGOMERY-GAUTHIA: They’d get different ones to sell them for them.

ROBINSON: And they was so cheap, but it was high back then. We thought it was high. Three dollars. You can’t even see a concert for three dollars now.

MONTGOMERY-GAUTHIA: No, no. that’s different now.

ROBINSON: Can’t even buy a Coke in the concert for three dollars.
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This project is a collaboration between the Imperial Calcasieu Museum and LSU Libraries to document the history of Mossville, a historic African American community in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.
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