Denise Davis & Gisele Bradley [Esperanza Club]

DAY 009 – Denise Davis & Gisele Bradley [Esperanza Club] photographed exclusively for the 100 Men Hall People Project (100MHPP).

Denise: My grandparents and my parents let us come to dances here. My brother would take us and there were a lot of families. There were a lot of teenagers and so we were familiar with the place. When I was a teenager, in 11th and 12th grade, we started the Esperanza Club. It was a nonprofit, all Black female Christian club. We all came from different churches. Esperanza means hope and expectations. Mostly, we were trying to help the community so we sold dinners at St. Rose, and we would take the money and buy turkeys and we would go to the nursing homes and sing Christmas carols. We raised money when we held our dances. We were the last to book the hall in 1975 and then the dances started dying out. The first dance we had was with Stone Soul Rock out of New Orleans. We had a full house and raised $300 off the dance and kitchen. Then the second was we had the Funky Meters out of New Orleans and most of the people came and stood outside and waited till it was almost over so they could come in free, and then the last dance was the known artist Chocolate Milk out of New Orleans, and that one didn’t too well. It was fun – I remember the last group – Archie Bell and The Drells, who did Tighten Up. I remember standing on the table trying to see them, and everyone was trying to see them. That was the last big name group to come through and then locals Bo and Dee were well known and they played here. 

Giselle – I can remember being a little kid because it really ended when I was a little kid until I was about 12 or 13 years old and up until Hurricane Betsy and then I don’t remember too much after that. Every Friday and Saturday night there was a band coming off the chitlin circuit. These were older bands and we would go to every one of them because the music was so important. The Hall was empty and a lot of people were dancing. We would stand against the wall or go out to the floor dancing. They had beer and cold drink in the kitchen where they made money. I remember we were here one time and they set off some smoke bombs, which were fun, but soon everyone was coughing and they had to open the doors.

(Photo by: Gus Bennett | The 100 Men Hall People Project)

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