Mary Tutwiler

Dancing in the dust

by Mary Tutwiler

Race is a tough issue to tackle. No matter how delicately a writer walks the line, there is always the possibility of a misstep, and that one false step always calls down thunder. Music writer Herman Fuselier, in The Times of Acadiana, clearly knows where to put his feet.

In this week’s column, “La Poussiere makes history with a good time,” Fuselier two-steps and waltzes his way through the racism mine field like a Creole Fred Astaire. All I can do is watch, and applaud his aplomb.

Fuselier’s subject is the integration of La Poussiere, which means "the dust," the Breaux Bridge dance hall that has been overtly and covertly whites-only since its inception in 1955. He wasn’t talking about 1964, when the Federal Civil Rights Act was passed. Nor was he writing about 1994, when the club was the subject of a Justice Department lawsuit for discrimination. Fuselier writes about another moment in the history of La Poussiere, last Saturday night, Aug. 29, when for the first time in 54 years an all-black band took the stage and a mixed race audience crowded the dance floor.

Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie made history. Fuselier, with his deft touch, begins by alluding to the upheaval that accompanies social change. But that’s not the way he wants to leave his readers, thinking about what’s bad in our culture. He sets you up to relive the tense past, then turns the present into the punch line. Here’s his lead:
Race and history in America often involve violence, police, judges and protests. On Aug. 29, 2009, history involving race was made in Breaux Bridge.
The only problem was everyone had a good time.
For the rest of this excellent column, click here. Hats off to you, Herman;  I'll see you on the dance floor.