Zydeco, in a word, is pure JOY! To quote a fellow Zydeco dancer and friend, it is the "most fun you can have with your clothes on". It is a genre of music and it is a dance.
When you Zydeco, all of your stressors evaporate for the three to four hours of the event. You cannot be mad or sad once the music and dancing starts. You can be in the worse possible mood when you come in the door but once the music starts, the mood amazingly lifts and within minutes you are smiling. Something magical happens, beginning with the first few notes and it carries you throughout the event. As T-Broussard said "You feel the music." And you do! You truly do feel a joyful emotion. According to Ben Sandmel, musician, record producer and author of "Zydeco!", "It is a music that helps people to forget heavier, weightier thoughts. It's a form of release in a culture where people work hard and play hard." Think of the hardships created by Katrina and recent gulf hurricanes in LA. The music rises above those hardships and continues to spread a festive feeling.
The term Zydeco was first recorded in the Library of Congress in the 1930s and as a music genre recorded in the late 1940s, but the roots of the music and dance predate recorded history. The music and dance originated in South Central and Southwest Louisiana with the black-French speaking Creole community. While the music borrowed some defining elements from Cajun music, it has evolved to blend defining elements from the creole, afro-caribbean, blues, soul, country and rap styles of music to create its own distinctive sound.
The term Zydeco comes from the French phrase "les haircots" literally meaning "the beans are not salty." Culturally, the Creole people settled in the Louisiana Bayou (Arcadiana) and were people of small means. Thus, times were that there was no money to buy the salt pork to season their food. As with most folk music, Zydeco celebrates the Creole culture through dance and song that speak of hardships endured and overcome by the Creole people. It celebrates friendship, love and life. It is a joyful sound.