Cajun/Zydeco Venues in Baltimore & Washington

Note- This list is not comprehensive, but has some of the local venes. For an up-to-date schedule of events, please see Baltimore/Washington Area Schedule

Venue Guide
Baltimore Area
American Visionary Arts Museum
The Barn Theater
The Cat's Eye Pub
Bay Cafe
Bohager's / Parrot Island
L.A. Niteclub
Root's Cafe
13th Floor of the Belvedere
Between the Cities
Eastport Clipper
  (Annapolis, MD)
Latela's
  (Jessup, MD)
O'Brien's
  (Annapolis, MD)
Ram's Head
  (Annapolis, MD)
Washington Area
The Barns of Wolf Trap
The Birchmere
Cherry Hill Park
Glen Echo Park - Spanish Ballroom -
Gumbo Groupies
Half Moon BBQ
Surf Club
Vienna Tap & Grill


Venues for Cajun/Zydeco in Baltimore Area


*The Barn Theater

Somebody Scream Cajun/Zydeco Series sponsored by the Baltimore Folk Music Society
410-366-0808 (BFMS)
Events usually Friday or Saturday 8 pm lesson and
9-12 dance (on special occasions,
Sunday 5 pm lesson and 6-9 dance
Cost: Almost always $10, $8 BFMS members and CCBC staff, $4 CCBC students Sometimes more for special events.
Instructors: Tricia Restivo and others

800 S. Rolling Road, Catonsville, MD
Directions: From I-95, exit at Route 195 (BWI Airport) but take Route 166 North (Rolling Road) towards Catonsville. At the second traffic light (Valley Road) turn left into Community College of Baltimore County - Catonsville campus. The Barn Theater is the stone building on the hill beyond parking lot A. Map and Driving Directions

Insider Comments: Great dance venue with wooden dance floor and lots of space to dance. The Barn is a rustic building with a raised stage. The crowd is fairly mixed with dancer ranging from students to seniors. Inexpensive drinks available.


*The Cat's Eye Pub

1730 Thames St., Baltimore, MD (Fells Point Area)
Map and Driving Directions 410-276-9085
Cajun/Zydeco on usually on Wed. or Sun., 1 to 2 nights a month
Cover: $5 for out-of-town zydeco bands, free other nights

Insider Comments: Being a popular Fells Point nightspot, the small dance floor gets crowded with both dancers and non-dancers, early and late are best dance times. Taking advantage of whatever room to dance, a dedicated group of dancers tend to be at all Cajun or zydeco events. Crowd tends to drink a lot, but is generally friendly and enthusiastic. A good place to meet and recruit non-dancers.


*Root's Cafe

27th & St. Paul Sts., Baltimore, MD (Charles Village Area)
Map and Driving Directions
410-880-3883, Roots Cafe are on Sat. nights, starting at 8pm
Cajun/Zydeco bands 2 or 3 times a year, sometimes with dance lessons during the band breaks, other nights are other roots oriented music
Also volunteers are needed to take tickets, sell drinks, etc.
Cover: $7.00

Insider Comments: Roots Cafe draws an eclectic group of folks with a casual atmosphere. The dance floor is wooden, but the emphasis of these events usually not dance oriented. The events are most often in small hall that can get crowded with free-stylin' dancers. The larger hall has a huge dance floor that doesn't get crowed, but also only seems to be used on special events. Inexpensive beer, wine, soda, and snacks are available.


*13th Floor of the Belvedere

1 E. Chase St., Baltimore, MD (Midtown Area)
Map and Driving Directions
410-347-0888
Open Wed-Sun., zydeco once or twice a month on Sat. at 9:30 pm
Cover: Usually $5, sometimes free on weeknights

Insider Comments: Lounge atmosphere with lots of people in evening attire. Small dance floor near stage, but one can dance on other areas that are carpeted. Because there is little or no cover, the acts are almost always local, not from Louisiana.


*American Visionary Arts Museum

800 Key Highway (Near Inner Harbor and Federal Hill), Baltimore, MD
Map and Driving Directions 410-244-1900
Cover: Depends on event - sometimes free
Frequency: Sporadic, generally only on special events like Mardi Gras season and Fourth of July.

Insider Comments: Nice place with great artwork is worth a visit. Fourth of July event is outside in a plaza with a concrete dance floor. The event is free, and fireworks in the Inner Harbor follow the music. The Mardi Gras events are varied, ranging from mask-making to dance instruction. The big Mardi Gras dance is great fun with live zydeco, wild costumes, and ball-like festivities - definitely the best party in Baltimore.


*Bay Cafe

2809 Boston Street (east of Fells Point)
Map (410) 522-3377
Music is usually Friday 5-9pm, outside during warm weather

Cover: Free and usually free buffet

Insider Comments: Waterside venue with small dance area. Has nice view of Baltimore harbor and has outdoor decks. Schedules local zydeco bands for Friday Happy Hour and on Sunday afternoons for their Jamaica Me Crazy" Parties. Generally attracts a fair number of dancers and an otherwise mixed crowd. Has a small indoor dance area, but large outdoor decks for good weather. Friday Happy Hour i ncludes a free buffet - a great deal.

.


*Relay Town Hall

Historic Relay Town Hall 1710 Arlington Avenue, Relay, Md
410-242-8922 or 410-461-5314
Directions: 95 South to 195 (towards BWI airport), south on Rt 1, follow signs to Relay.
Map and Directions
Cover: Usually $10 at door

Note: No Cajun/Zydeco events are currently being booked at this venue.

Insider Comments:
Nice venue in a quaint setting. Dance upstairs and
table downstairs and outside for relaxing (can still hear sound). Beer, sodas, and snack on sale, smoke free, no a/c, and outside dancing under the stars is possible.


*The LA Nightclub

3612 South Hanover Street Brooklyn, MD
410-354-4700
Dances sponsored by The Bon Temps Relay Social Club
Water, sodas, Gatorade and a full bar are available. Please do not bring your own water. The downstairs is a no smoking area.

Directions:
From 95, take Caton Ave exit, bear south towards Route 1/Washington Blvd., not Wilkens Ave, go straight where Caton Ave. crosses Rt. 1 (there is a McDonalds on the right). Caton Ave. turns into Patapsco Ave here.Stay on Patapsco Ave heading east for 3-4 miles. Pass thru the Potee St. light. (There is a CVS drug store on Potee St. where you may park.) Turn right at the next light which is Hanover Street. The club is right around the corner. There is also a parking lot behind the Bank of America bank on the west corner of Hanover Street across the street fromthe Nightclub. Please DO NOT Park at The Royal Farms lot or the auto repair shop lot across the street. Your car will be towed.

Insider Comments:
South Baltimore's coolest dance spot is the reborn big band area nightclub. La's Niteclub has a raised stage, plenty of seating, and great atmosphere.

History by Louise Vanderbeek:

The musical history of the LA Nightclub

The LA Nightclub Hall had been vacant for than a dozen years when current owner Jerry Adcock bought it in the Fall of 1999. When the big room opened in 1946, it was called Walnut Grove. The club had a huge walnut on stage, that would open up and a band would be playing inside. The nut motif goes back many years. This was once the sight of The Walnut Springs Hotel, built in 1841, that for decades, was a rollicking resort for gamblers, politicians and picnickers. A stout walnut tree fronted the hotel and a bandstand of sorts was erected in it's branches. The band members would scramble up the boughs and play for open air dances. The tree was cut down in 1916 to make furniture.

When the current building was built in the 1940's, Baltimore nightlife was booming. Most activity was centered around the Old Club Charles on North Avenue and The Chanticlear on Eager Street but the Walnut Grove was bigger than most midtown spots, hosting notable comedians like Harpo Marx and hit parade musical acts such as Tony Pastor and Louis Prima. A News American journalist gushed over the grooves at the Grove calling a visit to The Grove "the nitery thrill of a lifetime". By the spring of 1947, mounting debts drove the Grove into receivership and eventually darkness. The room was revived off and on over the next few years. In the 1950's, it was a country venue called The Hillbilly Nightclub, where Patsy Kline sang and Jimmy Dean performed and ran a radio broadcast where it is rumored that Johnny Cash dropped into for a visit.

The present dance hall is a bi-level room large enough for a crowd of 500 plus people. Located at the end of a long dark hall, vintage recessed lighting lines the ceiling and an illuminated stairway leads to a second floor with a wraparound balcony that overlooks the lower parquet main dance floor. There is a small dance floor on this level. The downstairs main room host the main dance floor, the bandstand backed with silver streamers, and a fully equipped bar and white table clothed round tables circa 1940, encircling the dance floor. An escort service is available to local parking areas.

Band's are hosted twice a month by The Bon Temps Relay Social Club. In the past 6 months, Geno Delafose , Leroy Thomas, Lil' Pookie, Andre Thierry, and Sheryl Cormier have performed here. The next few months will see Roy Carrier, Sean Ardoin and a return of Andre Thierry in August. Dikki Du, Troy Carriers band and Leroy Thomas are on the schedule for the Fall.

Today, The LA Nightclub is one of the centers of zydeco and Cajun music in the Baltimore area. But this venue does have musical history on it's side. As owner Jerry Adcock says, "A lotta famous people played here, there are a lot of entertainment ghosts in that room."


*Bohager's at Parrot Island (Formerly Parrot Island)

701 S. Eden St., Balto. MD (between Fells Point and Inner Harbor)
Map
410-522-1000

Insider Comments:
Tropical venue with small stage, but big dance area. The club as not yet attracted big crowds of dancers.
Happy hour crowd is 30ish or older. Usual late night music tends to be Jimmy Buffet-ish DJ music - generally attracts younger crowd.


*Clipper City

Inner Harbor, South of Light Street Pavilion
Map and Driving Directions

For Public Sail information or reservations call 410-539-6277
For Private Charters and Groups call 410-931-6777.

Insider Comments:
The Clipper City is a replica of one of the "Tall Ships"
that carried lumber from 1854 to 1892. While usually booking private parties and charters, the Clipper City occasionally books public cruises with mostly local Reggae and Caribbean bands. They also are starting to book zydeco bands. Unfortunately, there is not much level deck to dance on. On the positive side, the cruises are quite nice with a tour of Baltimore's harbor. Also, the crew is friendly, attentive and into zydeco.


*Fells Point Creative Alliance

244 S. Highland (off Eastern Ave., near Fells Point)
410-276-1651

Insider Comments:
Fells Point Creative Alliance is a community-based
nonprofit presenting and promoting the arts and humanities in Baltimore, MD. As a membership organization of artists, writers, scholars, individuals and businesses, the Creative Alliance encourages collaboration in supporting the cultural life of our community. The Creative Alliance holds a number dances that often feature Cajun/Zydeco or other Roots music.


*Festivals and Special Events


Venues for Cajun/Zydeco in Washington D.C. Area


*The Spanish Ballroom - Glen Echo Park

MacArthur Blvd. & Goldsboro Rd., Glen Echo, MD
Shows sponsored by: Crawfish Productions
Phone: (301) 309-0895 Cajun or Zydeco events regularly scheduled on the second Saturday of and third Sunday of the month
Admission: Usually $10 but sometimes more for benefits On Sat. Workshops at 8 pm, Dance: 9pm - 12 mid On Sun. Workshops at 3 pm, Dance: 3:30 pm - 6 pm
Instructors: Zydeco - Ellen Wicker & Roland Lewis Cajun - Ellen Wicker & Terry Davey

Map and directions
Directions: From the Beltway, take either the Clara Barton Parkway (from VA) or the Cabin John Expressway (from MD) toward Glen Echo. From the left lane, take the Glen Echo exit (which involves a U-turn and a right at the fork). At the tee, turn left onto MacArthur Blvd. Continue NW on MacArthur and just past the mini shopping mall turn left. Go to the stop sign and turn left after it into the parking lot. The path to the Spanish Ballroom is at the far side of the bridge.

Insider Comments:
Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo hosts by far the largest Cajun and
Zydeco events in the greater metro DC area. The huge wooden dance floor can accommodate hundreds of dancers (and often does). The dances sponsored by Crawfish Productions have grown over the years so that 400 or 500 dancers attend for the most popular bands. The atmosphere is friendly and new dancers are always welcome. The venue is smoke and alcohol free, and drinks are on sale. The only real downsides are that the the heating is not good and the air conditioning is nonexistent. The bathrooms are outside, and the sound quality of the music is variable. Although the place was originally built as a dance, many bands seem to have a hard time getting good sound out of this large room.


*Cherry Hill Park

(near College Park, MD) Recreation Building,
9800 Cherry Hill Road, College Park, MD
(Near Route 1 and the Beltway (I494)) Map and Direction
Frequency: not currently booking regular Cajun or Zydeco on a regular basis, but some special events are held here.

Insider Comments:
Nice venue has large wooden dance floor and plenty of room. The building is a meeting center at campground/trailer park. There is AC, it's smoke-free and you can BYOB.


*Tornado Alley

11319 Elkin St., Wheaton, MD
Now closed, but see the Farewell Tornado Alley Page


*Twist & Shout This venue is closed RIP!


*The Barns of the Wolf Trap

1635 Trap Rd., Vienna, VA 22182
Phone: (703) 938-2404 Admission: generally $15-$16
Lessons: None

Insider Comments:
Have cajun/zydeco a few times a year. Zydeco tends more towards blues/rock zydeco than the traditional. Get tickets early because most Cajun and zydeco events sell out. Nice wooden floor. Full cash bar.


*Vienna Tap & Grill

146 E. Maple Ave., Vienna VA
Frequency: Nothing in the last couple years
Lessons: Mark Greenleaf gives workshop prior to dance
Phone:(703) 548-6425 or (703) 255-0800
Admission: usually $5

Comments (thanks to Paul Schneider):
Cajun and New Orleans style food served. The Vienna Grille is a Cajun/Creole Cuisine restaurant with a tap room downstairs. The tap room has a large selection of draft and bottled beer, both domestic and imports. The Tap Room also has a wooden dance floor (about 15' X 25') and a raised stage for the performers. Zydeco Crayz plays there about once a month on a Wed or Thursday night to a good sized crowd. Lessons start at 8:00 with dancing from 9:00 until 12:00. Directions - Take route 66 West to Nutley St. North exit. Follow Nutley to Maple/Rt. 123 (4th traffic light). Take a right onto Maple. Go less than 1 mile. (just past the 4th traffic light), on the left side of Maple is the Vienna Grill in a small strip plaza. Entrance to the Tap Room is on the side.


*The Birchmere

3701 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria VA
Phone: (703) 549-7500 for information
Frequency: 1 or 2 times a month, see website
Directions - see website
Insider comments:
Cajun, zydeco, and New Orleans music acts are offered sporatically. There is now dancing allowed at this venue in the Bandstand, but not in the main music hall. Comments (From Ken Leiner on 10/20/98): I checked out the gigantic new permanent dance floor they have installed, at the "Birchmere Bandstand", formerly Gonzo's. It looks great for a real big zydeco dance! They have also put in a new & improved sound system. The management is trying to fill the void left by the closing of the Twist & Shout and they hope to schedule more Cajun & zydeco dances. I also learned that the music that plays live in the music hall concert is piped into the Birchmere Bandstand area and the show is shown there on closed circuit TV. This might be a good chance to check out shows you're not sure you want to pay the cover for, or to enjoy sold-out shows like Mary Chapin Carpenter on Wednesday November 11th, and maybe to have a place to dance to the shows which you can't do in the music hall area.


*Madam's Organ

2461 18th St. NW, Washington, DC (Adam's Morgan Area)
Map and Driving Directions
Phone: (202) 667-5370

Insider Comments:
Has a small dance area. From Rob rob -at- gotham-city.net Located in the center of Adams Morgan (18th & Columbia), Madam's is fast becoming known as "Washington's place to hear the blues". You'll hear live music seven nights a week from national R&B artists and old time blues legends. You'll never know who you'll find hanging out at Madam's.


*The State Theatre

220 N. Washington Street Falls Church, VA 22046-4517
Phone: (703) 237-0300
Frequency: After a couple of shows, Cajun and Zydeco was dropped for financial reasons
Directions and map

Comments (from Ken Leiner):
Had the opportunity Saturday night to go to the most beautiful music and dance venue I have seen in the DC area. It's the State Theatre in Falls Church Virginia, inside the Beltway right off Route 7. Easy to get to, and when I walked in I couldn't believe what a great place it is. The State Theatre is a former movie theatre that has been totally renovated with a lot of attention to detail, I guess art deco, and the ceiling must be at least 60 feet high. There are two hundred seats in the balcony for those who just want to watch a show. The stage is fantastic, great lighting, the sound system is perfect, I didn't even need to use ear plugs. There are four bars, an area for tables where food is served, and for big dance events these tables can be removed for more space. Great views from everywhere. In front of the stage is an excellent wood floor dance area.


*Surf Club
4711 Kenilworth Ave. Hyattsville, MD
Phone: (301) 927-6310
Map and Driving Directions
Frequency: Once or twice a month. Currently have a Cajun dance
on third Thursday of the month. Some (but not all) shows sponsored by Twist & Shout Productions

Insider Comments: Although it sounds like a beach bar, the Surf Club is actually closer to a country honky-tonk. The venue has a big wooden dance area, pool tables, and cheap beer prices. The only caveats are no food except hot dogs and snacks, and it is not in a great section of town.


*Half Moon BBQ

8235 Georgia Ave. (corner of Thayer Avenue and Georgia Avenue, just two doors down from the old Paddy Mac's)
Silver Spring, MD. 301-585-1290
Directions
(Mark Gretschel newest establishment)

Comments (anonymous source on 9/18/00):
Half Moon Barbecue had good non-vegetarian fare, although the freshhand-cut fries might pass as non-meat. Aron Hecker, a serious barbecue researcher, cooks fairly spicy food--be prepared for the pulled pork heat but the chicken is mild and sweet. Unlike Paddy Mac's, now closed, the dancers don't perform for the stool-mounted smokestack hard drinking regulars, but have their own room in back. The small music room has a linoleum floor, cinderblock walls, but there are no tables in the way. Friday night, perhaps because of a Post Weekend mention, all 6 or so tables and most of the barstools were in use, largely by food fans. The few music fans were in back, with about a half-dozen dancers. The Zydeco Kings sounded tight with a lot of energy. Even though they haven't played together a lot in this band, they have in others. Hopefully they will have a lot of upcoming gigs. The restaurant staff includes musicians and is openduring the day for hungry drop-ins.


*Gumbo Groupies

8700 Piney Branch Road, Silver Spring MD
Frequency: Third Thursday of every month 8-10 pm.
Admission - Free
For info., contact: Nancy Pineles npineles -at- hotmail.com
Map and Driving Directions

Directions: Take the University Ave. East (Langley Park) exit from the Washington Beltway, go about one mile and turn right onto Piney Branch. The Community Center is at the bottom of the hill on the right.

Insider Comments:
It's free with mostly recorded music, but sometime musicians play.
Good place to meet new dancers and work on your dance steps.


*Eastern Market Gallery on Capitol Hill

North Carolina Avenue and C Street S.E.
Map of area Frequency: Occasional events

Insider Comments:
Once hosted a regular Friday night gigs with Zydeco Crayz. Now only hosts special events.


Venues between the Baltimore and Washington


*Eastport Clipper

400 6th St. Annapolis, MD (410) 280-6400
Map and Driving Directions

Directions: From Route 50, take the Rowe Blvd. exit toward Annapolis. At Church Circle (the one with the church in the middle) go around to Duke of Gloucester Lane. Follow that until it dumps you right next to the 6th Street bridge. Across the bridge, the Eastport Clipper is on your right after about one block.


*Latela's

2733 Annapolis Road (Route 175)
Jessup, MD 410-799-7110
Dances sponsored by Jerry Carrier
Map of area - center is approx. location
Latela's has a full bar, and water and sodas, are available.
Please do not bring your own water, as support for the bar
is necessary to keep this venue.

Directions: Jessup, Maryland is a split-the-distance Baltimore/Washington
compromise right off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
Take the exit for Route 175 east (toward Odenton) and travel
less than one mile. You'll see a lighted marquee and parking
lot for Latela's package store and bar on the right.
Look for familiar faces taking money at the entrance to the left
of the main bar.

Insider Comments: Latela's is a spacious banquet hall with a beautiful smooth terrazzo floor made for dancing and plenty of tables for seating. (If you have to sit.) A big feature is its very convenient location--half way between Baltimore and Washington, just twelve miles north of the Washington Beltway. There is a full bar, and pizza and sandwiches are available. The owner is willing to try Cajun or Zydeco dancing on a test basis. If it proves profitable we will have a fine comfortable place to dance on a regular basis. (This means patronizing the bar--even if it's just buying water.)


*O'Brien's

13 Main St., Annapolis, MD
(410) 268-6288
Map and Directions

Insider comments:
Nice place with some room to dance. Located near
waterfront in Annapolis. The crowd is mixed, but tends toward the younger set.


*Ram's Head

33 West Street, Annapolis, MD
410-268-4545

Cover: $12-15 Cajun/Zydeco very infrequently

Insider Comments:
This Annapolis area bar tends to book first-rate national acts
of many genres. Downside is that there is no dance space at this venue.



* Return to Cajun/Zydeco Music & Dance page.