Cajun and Zydeco Dance Music in Northern CaliforniaModern Pleasures in a Postmodern World

Cajun and Zydeco Dance Music in Northern CaliforniaModern Pleasures in a Postmodern World

Mark F. DeWitt

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9781604730906

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi

Abstract

Queen Ida. Danny Poullard. Documentary filmmaker Les Blank. Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records. These are names that are familiar to many fans of Cajun music and zydeco, and they have one other thing in common: longtime residence in the San Francisco Bay Area. They are all part of a vibrant scene of dancing and live Louisiana-French music that has evolved over several decades. This book traces how this region of California has been able to develop and sustain dances several times a week with more than a dozen bands. Description of this active regional scene opens into a discussion of several historical trends that have affected life and music in Louisiana and the nation. The book portrays the diversity of people who have come together to adopt Cajun and Creole dance music as a way to cope with a globalized, media-saturated world. The author weaves together interviews with musicians and dancers (some from Louisiana, some not), analysis of popular media, participant observation as a musician and dancer, and historical perspectives from wartime black migration patterns, the civil rights movement, American folk and blues revivals, California counterculture, and the rise of cultural tourism in “Cajun Country.” In so doing, he reveals the multifaceted appeal of celebrating life on the dance floor, Louisiana-French style.