During the 1960s and ’70s, Friday night dances at the Cyr-Gates Community Center at City Park in New Iberia were once a popular spot among teenagers.
New Iberia resident Kyle Viator started working as a supervisor at the Friday night dance at the end of his freshman year of high school and continued until his junior year of college, and said working there was a big part of his young adult life. It was the place he met his wife, Madeline.
One night, Viator and his wife were reminiscing about some of the popular bands like Horizon with Mike and Tim Landry and Mike Parich.
“It got me thinking, ‘I wonder if most folks remember about it,’” Viator said.
Viator decided to post in the Facebook group “You might be from New Iberia if…,” and Viator was blown away from the responses he got.
Viator said if you look at the comments from others on his Facebook post, he thinks it was even bigger in the ’60s, predating the time he was there.
“It was an even bigger phenomenon,” Viator said.
Viator isn’t too sure when the Friday night dances got their start or came to an end, though he thinks it went on until the mid-1970s.
Every Friday night, the community center hosted a live band, there was always a group of supervisors there.
Viator said he thinks the dance was intended for 17-year-olds and younger, though he isn’t certain.
“I think parents knew it was a safe place for kids to go and to gather with their friends, listen to music, dance and talk,” Viator said.
Viator doesn’t remember any issues or problems that had to be dealt with during the time he worked at the dances.
“It was well-supervised and I think people just felt good about going,” Viator said. “Our job was pretty much to walk the area and make sure everything was appropriate and kids were having fun.”
Going and having safe fun, according to Viator, made it the social epicenter for teenagers and a place they frequented until it eventually closed down.
City park, back in those days, was a huge magnet for young people, Viator said.
“It was really amazing the number of activities they had for folks,” Viator said. “People were at the park for swimming lessons, ping pong, baseball, archery lessons. It was amazing the number of kids that were there every day.”
The legacy of the Friday night dance is still felt to this day for those who attended it with their friends, as it was an event that brought people together.
“I think the dance’s legacy is huge,” Viator said. “You see people who used to go there and they say, ‘Yeah, I met my husband there and we’ve been married for 35-45 years,’ and you just go, ‘Wow.’”