The Bordeaux Dance Hall
Around 1906, Ted and Miner Bordeaux, tried to make money by setting up their own business. At this point in its history Reynoldston had not started to lose population; furthermore, in Skerry to the East and in the Bangor to the north family farms provided a decent living for their owners and plenty of customers to fuel the Klondike and one or two other honky tonks. However, the Klondike was a long ways away. Realizing this, Ted and Miner decided a dance hall and bar room, with the added attraction of a pool table, barbershop and a store might capture enough trade to make a living. The Hall operated until 1919.
Other than the mill buildings and Berton Reynolds’ big house, the Bordeaux Dance Hall was the largest structure in the community. It was built on part of the land that had been farmed and cleared by Allen Bordeaux. In an area where snow influenced the way people made their livings and built their houses, the Hall’s flat roof and square, 30 x 30 foot frame were unique.
Set in the midst of so many unpainted and weather beaten houses the tin sheeted sides of the infamous Dance Hall glowed in the sunlight. The porch, stretching across one side of the building: could hold over twenty loud talking lumberjacks. Two doors opened off this porch, one to the grocery store and the other into the bar where the pool table stood. The room that gave the dance hall its name and its reputation took up the entire second story. Wooden benches whose backs were the walls of the room ringed the softwood dance floor. About once a week the Bordeaux’s held a Saturday night dance open to anybody. Admission was free and customers only had to pay if they chose to dance. They could dance all night for ten cents.
In a community that did not have any churches or any other formal social environments, it did not take long for the reputation of the Hall and its many customers to become the the bain of most parents and a the source of endless stream of stories for the community gossipers.
Eleon Bordeaux oral history interviews 1969 tape 1 p. 10
Eugene & Daisy Bordeaux
Mr. Bordeaux: Yes, it had a barbershop. My uncle was the barber in it.
Daisy Bordeaux: They used to sell booze on the side.
Mr. Bordeaux: Sell booze.
Mr. Langlois: Everybody go to the dances?
Mr. Bordeaux: Most of the people up here used to go, yeah. Everybody danced… Square dances….what were those dance called Ma (to Mrs.Bordeaux) Virginia Reel?
Daisy Bordeaux: Yeah.
Mr. Bordeaux: You danced more than I did. And they had waltzes.
Mr. Langlois: Kitchen dances?
Mr. Bordeaux: Kitchen dances too. Every so often somebody had a dance in their kitchen. No you had dances in the kitchen there (referring to the one in his house) Some big kitchen took two four eight people dance at a time.
Mr. Bordeaux: Fights go with the dances. (laughter) Oh they would get drinking yeah. I would rather talk about fighting. (laughter)
Eugene Bordeaux oral history interviews 1969 Tape 3 p.18-19
Eleon Bordeaux & Ann Desparois
Mr. Bordeaux: Some were jealous over
Mrs. Desparois: Over girl friends….
Mr. Bordeaux: Or somebody threw something… Sometimes from out of town, there would be a bully that would come up there and think he could run the place, but generally he got in trouble. I remember one time when the camps were running in the area…The Reynolds had four or five camps were running…and they all came down there to the dances. It got so busy they had to have somebody, I think Alley Bedor. He was the constable. They get him to come up there a great big old man. They had so much
trouble that Bedor was up there to keep the peace.
Eleon Bordeaux & Ann Desparois tape 1 p. 10-11
down…they used to have some awful fights there
Tom Campbell oral history interviews 1970 Tape 4 p.
One response to “The Bordeaux Hall”
[…] It was a time when men worked hard and women toiled even harder to maintain a home and feed and clothe their very large families. Men could take refuge from the drudgery of labor in boisterous festivities, fuelled by heavy drinking and the wild times at the Bordeaux Dance Hall. […]