Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Fais Do-Do (go to sleep)

Fais Do-Do

A communal dance held traditionally in rural dancehalls, the fais do-do attracted Cajun men, women, and children for long evenings of dancing and socializing. Adolescent girls attended under chaperons' watchful eyes, while young males were often restricted to a holding pen called une cage aux chiens, or "dogs’ cage" (unless they were dancing). Children were put to bed at the dance, giving rise to the term fais do-do (meaning "go to sleep" in Cajun French). Like earlier bals de maison, the fais do-do not only provided a source of entertainment, but a sense of community, and an opportunity for courtship. Often fais do-dos attracted young Cajun males bent on fighting — a traditional rite of passage and form of amusement for some. Popular dances at fais do-dos were the two-step and waltz, which along with newer Cajun dance styles like the jitterbug and shuffle still exist today. The fais do-do survives in Acadiana largely as an attraction at regional festivals, and it is usually held in public areas like parks and civic arenas. A commercialized version of the fais do-do also survives at Cajun restaurants that feature live Cajun music, such as Randol’s in Lafayette or Mulate’s in Breaux Bridge. Since the 1980s Cajun dancing has been popular worldwide, with particularly large followings on the east and west coasts (where dancers form clubs called "krewes," a word that generally describes groups of Mardi gras revelers).

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