Cajun dancing has been a staple of south Louisiana culture since the first days when French settlers arrived in the area. Along with the Cajun music that has enjoyed enduring popularity since those early days and continues to have a significant cultural impact today, Cajun dancing takes on some unique forms that combine to form a diverse expression of song and dance.
There is a reason these cultural values have survived and thrived together for over 200 years: they provide a sense of community, a celebration of the culture, and a fun outlet that can be enjoyed by anyone. The Cajun music jams that happen all over south Louisiana, but especially in the Acadiana region, can bring together a diverse crowd that might not have contact otherwise, which fosters connections in the community and a sense of belonging. Plus, it’s impossible to dance to Cajun music or zydeco music without a smile on your face—just take a visit to events like the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, where crowds gather to see local favorites and dance the night away.
There are several variations of Cajun dancing, with waltzes and two steps being the most popular. The waltz is a slower dance that pairs with traditional Cajun music based on the old French folk ballads that the Acadian settlers brought with them, while two steps are more energetic and lively. There are several variations of the two step, but in its most basic form, it is very simple: just two steps in one direction, and two steps in the other direction. There are lots of ways to spice it up, but as a common saying on the dance floor goes, as long as you’re having fun—you’re doing it right.
Dancing and live music have gone hand in hand in Cajun culture for hundreds of years, and they show no sign of slowing down. These important cultural traditions serve many purposes in the community, providing an outlet for Cajuns (and visitors) to forget about their troubles for a while and have fun on the dance floor. The smiling faces tell the whole story.