by Chere Weiss
I am obsessed with zydeco, but what is zydeco? According to the American Heritage Dictionary, zydeco is the popular music of southern Louisiana that combines French dance melodies, elements of Caribbean music, and the blues, played by small groups, featuring the accordion, washboard, and guitar.
I discovered zydeco 10 years ago during my annual pilgrimage to the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival. The 4th of July weekend festival hosts ‘Swamp Romp’, a showcase of zydeco and Cajun bands featuring a dance floor and shade. I jumped around in my seat for several years before I got the nerve to try it out on the dance floor. I dove in head first in the spring of 2009 taking lessons in Vancouver and Portland. I went to every live dance I could. Zydeco music is infectiously upbeat with a focus on the lead instrument of the accordion and percussion of the rub board. It is happy, uplifting music that gets the young and old alike tapping their feet. The teaching mantra is ‘quick, quick, slow’.
Cascade Zydeco is a 501(c) (3) non-profit association. The mission of the group is to promote the music, dance and culture of Southern Louisiana; lessons are every Wednesday from 7:15-8 pm at the PPAA, 618 SE Alder St in Portland. Dancing to CDs continues from 8-10 pm. The cost is $5 for non-members and $3 for CZ members. The PPAA offers a full bar and roomy dance floor. Every Sunday in Vancouver there is a free lesson from 7-8 pm with CD dancing until 9 at the Dodge City Bar and Grill, located at 4250 E Fourth Plain. There is a full bar and restaurant on site. The fun factor goes up about 100 notches when a live band comes to town. Catch the next one on Saturday January 21st when Jefferey Broussard and the Creole Cowboys fly out from Lawtell, Louisiana to play at the Portland Eagles Hall, 4904 SE Hawthorne Boulevard, Portland, OR. Lesson 7-8 pm and dancing 8 -11:30. Admission: $15 general and $13 for Cascade Zydeco members. This event supports the Oregon Food Bank; bring two cans of food and your dancin' shoes!
Does Zydeco sound fun? Will you be heading to the dance floor or is there another style of dance you'd like to tell us about in the comments below?
Chere Weiss is one of CRReader's online writers. Read more about her by clicking here.