Long before there ever was an “Achy Breaky” or even a “Boot Scoot Boogie”, there was Cajun dancing. More than just a here-today, gone-tomorrow line fad, Cajun dancing is a preserved and rapidly growing folk art form. Versatile and fun to learn, it fits in at just about any event, from festivals to dance halls to cowboy saloons.
In recent years, the dances of the Acadians have come to life outside of the bayou. Artists like Mary Chapin Carpenter have brought the Cajun beat and instruments to the mainstream in No. 1 country music hits. Demand for dances that fit the rhythms has turned the hobby of folk dancers Rand and Cynthia Speyrer into a business as professional Cajun-dance instructors. In New Orleans, just on the outskirts of deep-in-the-swamp Cajun Country, they teach courses year-round to students of all skill levels.
With the help of Ormonde Plater, they have created Cajun Dancing, a step-by-step guide to learning the folk art. Beginners can learn the basics while trying the Cajun Waltz and the Two-Step. These adaptations make for a lively alternative to the originals. For the intermediate and advanced dancers, the book also covers the intricacies of the Cajun Jitterbug. Teaching twenty-five moves and variations to be used interchangeably, the advanced section shows die-hard dancers how to put some real hot sauce in their boots! The final chapter is devoted to traditional group dances, while the appendix of Louisiana dance halls helps guide the reader to hot dance halls throughout Cajun country.
Two videotapes are also available for use with or without the book. Introduction to Cajun Dancing shows students the basics of the Cajun Waltz and Two-Step. Advanced Cajun Dancing focuses on the details of the jitterbug routines. Both tapes are excellent not only as instructional guides but also for their wonderful soundtracks.