Zydeco in New Orleans

Have you ever been somewhere so special that it takes your breath away and leaves you without reflexes?

This is what happened to me last month at Zydeco night in New Orleans. I experienced an evening of charm and character and forgot to take photographs. I was so immersed in the moment that I didn’t think of my camera. The only pictures I have are in my memory. I will try to share them with you.

The city is New Orleans and the place is called the Rock and Bowl. This is a huge venue which includes bowling alleys, a snack bar, a stage and a large dancefloor. Rock and Bowl is some distance from the French Quarter where most of the sightseers stay but the taxi ride is not expensive, maybe 10 $.

They have nightly music shows and Thursday is Zydeco night. If you don’t know Zydeco, it is the music of the Creole, Cajun and French society of Southwest Louisiana. It is a mix of religious, bluegrass, blues and is relatively new as a genre. The instruments are the accordion(often a smaller version than the polka-type), a washboard, an electric guitar and drums. It is simple, syncopated, special and I love it.

So, I pay the 10$ admission, get my hand stamped and walk into this large and plain room. There are booths for the bowlers on one side and on the other side of the room are a few tables with chairs. When I arrived at 7:45 p.m.( the music was supposed to start at 8), the tables were either filled or being held for friends. I opted to sit on an available chair near the bowlers. Groups of teens were bowling, some people were eating and others were having a beer while they waited. It was quiet: people sitting, people chatting, people strolling.

The act scheduled to play was Geno Delafosse, a well-known and loved Zydeco musician. Little by little, the place filled up. The band started to play at 9. That’s when the crowd came alive.

They went wild.

Delafosse began squeezing that accordion and couples began squeezing each other.

Rhthyms twanged in Creole and Cajun as Delafosse sang and the  crowd danced as if this was the night they had waited for all their lives. I have never seen such dancing. It was beautiful to watch. Grandmas and grandpas swinging their hips and moving their feet in synchronicity. Suspenders, smiles and cowboys hats gliding by me as I tried to study their feet.

One gentleman rested his cane by the wall, went to choose a partner and smoothly tapped his feet and guided her ’round the dance floor. Another elderly man was teaching a few teenagers how to move their Nikes to the beat of Zydeco.

It was enchanting. I have never seen a dance floor filled with such exhuberant and accomplished dancers worthy of a competition. As I said, I have no pictures so I have borrowed and given credit to pictures from Google. This is Geno Delafosse, with the great smile.

(the images are from Google Images)

This link is to YouTube, of one such evening at the Rock and Bowl. The quality is not good but it gives the flavour. (Thanks to poke852)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17n-C2WRQ-w&feature=related

If you go to New Orleans, you must visit and put on your dancing shoes. Bring and use a camera, too.