Zydeco and Cajun Dance Nights






Contact: Darcy Minter, 775.340.4240
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Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez at the Western Folklife Center

Monthly Dances Start July 17 with Cajun Dinner Benefit

Elko—“Let the good times roll” this summer at the Western Folklife Center’s monthly Zydeco and Cajun dance nights. Dick and Sandy Sturm will be the DJs, hosts and dance teachers for those who need a little help with the two-step or waltz. The fun begins on Saturday, July 17th with a Cajun dinner catered by the Flying Fish to benefit the Western Folklife Center. Subsequent monthly dance nights will include dancing lessons and a dance (no dinner) on Saturdays August 14, September 11, October 16 and November 13. All events take place at the Western Folklife Center, 501 Railroad Street, Elko.

The July 17th dinner starts at 6:00 pm, followed by Cajun/Zydeco dance lessons at 7:00 pm; the dance will begin immediately following the lessons. Tickets to the dinner and dance are $30 and can be purchased at the Western Folklife Center Gift Shop or by calling 738-7508 by July15. The Cajun Dinner will include jambalaya, crawfish fettuccini, salad and bread, and beignets for dessert. Dinner tickets are limited. For those who just want to participate in the dance, the cost is $10 at the door. Subsequent dances are $10 at the door only. All dance lessons begin at 7:00 pm followed by the dance. The Western Folklife Center bar will be serving cold drinks during the Cajun/Zydeco dances so come on down, enjoy the music and dance the night away!

Zydeco and Cajun music are closely related. Zydeco evolved in southwest Louisiana in the early 19th century from Creole music. The rural black Creoles of southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas still sing in Louisiana Creole French. Cajuns are the descendants of Acadian exiles (French-speaking settlers from what are now the maritime provinces of Canada). Today, Cajuns make up a significant portion of south Louisiana's population.

According to dance instructor Dick Sturm, “a Cajun band will always have a fiddle as one of the primary instruments along with the accordion. Although both Cajun and Zydeco started at the same point musically, playing traditional French folksongs, through the years Zydeco has incorporated Caribbean and African rhythms, the blues, and most recently even elements of hip hop. Zydeco music seldom has a fiddle in it but does have a rub-board which is like a washboard in the shape of a vest which is hung over the shoulders and often played by using bottle openers.”

The word Zydeco is a derivation of the French words "les haricots" or "snap beans" in English. Geno Delafose, who performed with his band French Rockin’ Boogie at the 26th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, explains that the music is called Zydeco because it is “snappy, up-beat, good-time, let-your-hair-down, have-fun music.” It’s just that feeling that makes Zydeco dancing popular around the world.

The Cajun/Zydeco Dances are supported by the Flying Fish, as well as sponsored by the Nevada Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The mission of the Western Folklife Center is to enhance the vitality of American life through the experience, understanding, and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the American West.