Cajuns are people of French descent who migrated to Louisiana from Canada during the eighteenth century. Musically, they are a blend of traditional French, American country, and the African Creole from the Caribbean. The fiddle, accordion and triangle are the predominant instruments in their music, which is often lively and energetic.
Type of Dances
According to Dancingthreads (Reference 1), most Cajun dances are two-steps or waltzes. The steps are easy to execute, and don’t involve any complicated moves. Here are a few of the common dances. The Cajun Traveling Waltz is one of the easiest to learn. The line of travel is counter-clockwise, according to the shape of the dance floor. Like all waltzes, the music is in 3/4 time. The most common pattern for this dance is simply stepping on each beat, with an emphasis on the beginning beat of each three. In general, it’s easy enough to recognize that beat because it’s emphasized in the music. Step out on the “one” beat, add a simple two-step, then step out again on the next “one.” The Cajun two-step is performed to fast, lively music in 4/4 time. As usual, the dancers move in a counter-clockwise direction around the floor. In the traditional Cajun two-step there are no turnouts, spins or other fancy moves. The Cajun Traveling Two-step will be familiar to anyone who has danced the Country Western Two-step. It’s a traveling two-step of six or eight counts, and moves counter-clockwise. It lends itself to turns and spins, according to the dancer’s skill. The Cajun Jitterbug is an unusual step, also known as the Cowboy Jitterbug, the Lake Charles Slide or Whiskey River Jitterbug. To most Cajuns, it’s simply “Jitterbug.” This dance also invites flourishes, such as the Inside Turn, the Hip Turn, the Outside Turn, Back Slide, Sweetheart Slide, Back Out, and Turn-Under. See the “How to Dance to Cajun Music” below for more information on these.
These dances are done to a type of music known variously as “Cajun,” “Creole” and “Zydeco.” It draws from American Country, traditional French, African, and over the past century has also integrated more modern forms such as blues and rock 'n' roll. Even more modern compositions can include influences from R&B, soul, reggae, and ska. Instruments featured in the genre are accordion, fiddle, triangle, washboard and bass fiddle.