A “fais do-do” is an energetic “Cajun hoedown,” a community event full of music, good folks and great food, that takes place on a Saturday evening at a public dancehall and may very well go all night. The term “fais do do” means “go to sleep,” and refers to the way Cajun mothers would traditionally try to shush the young babies they brought with them to the event, handing them to a grandmother or an older relative to put them to sleep in a nearby room so they could dance. (The origin of the term may be in dispute.) At a fais do-do a Cajun band plays “chanky-chank” music, featuring a rollicking accordion, a vibrant fiddle and a triangle (a “ting-a-ling.”)
In class we’re going to have a fake fais do-do, learn the Cajun two-step and listen to a Cajun standard, “Diggy Diggy Lo,” by fiddler Doug Kershaw. Kershaw grew up on a houseboat in Louisiana with his musical French-speaking Cajun family. After spending several years in the U.S. Army Kershaw returned with a song he had written–“Louisiana Man“–that became a hit, and followed that up with “Diggy Diggy Lo.”
And, flying in the face of tradition, during our fais do-do we’re going to keep our kids awake so they can have fun too.
Scenes from a Cajun fais do-do | See just a moment of the Cajun two-step and you’ll surely be able to do it too | While we’re at it, we may as well learn how to do the Cajun waltz and also let Lori show us how to dance to Zydeco (“Walk walk walk touch!”)