Vivian native and mystery writer Eric Wilder agreed to share some of his memories of the Bossier Strip with the readers of My Bossier.
Red River Babylon
While growing up in north Louisiana, I wasted many hours at a place known locally as the Bossier Strip. Billed as the largest bit of neon between Las Vegas and Miami Beach, this three-mile row of nightclubs, restaurants, liquor stores, and striptease joints had it all.
Probably the biggest and most popular nightclub was Sak’s Boom Boom Room, later known as Sak’s Whisk-a-go-go. Clad in flashing neon of reds and yellows, the building looked like a rocket under full launch from Cape Canaveral. There was always live music of all varieties along the strip, but Sak’s provided the biggest venue to the biggest soon-to-be-famous artists.
The thing I remember most about Sak’s was the bikini-clad go-go dancer suspended in a cage above the dance floor. There was no nudity but a distinct aura of sex abounded along with the loud live music, strong drinks and uninhibited dancing. I saw many acts and a friend recently reminded me of the comedian and singer Rusty Warren performing her bawdy ballad Knockers Up.
The Bossier Strip prospered because it had a captive audience – the men and women of Barksdale Air Force Base, the largest SAC base in the world. Even the smallest of clubs had live music, along with the mystique of illegal gambling and prostitution, courtesy of the Southern Mafia.
Today, the “Strip” is mostly history, replaced by legal gambling in gaudy riverboats moored along the Red River between Shreveport and Bossier City. Many music venues still exist, along with the palpable undercurrent of sex and danger that provided the place with an excitement like no other, and will likely never disappear.