Why you should care
You can’t resist this musical mashup of African, Native American, Creole and Cajun cultures.
The first in our new series “How Ya Livin’?” with your host, Breed. Each episode takes you inside a different subculture — from yachting to Zydeco dancing. We’re open to suggestions … where should Breed go next?
It’s a Friday night, and Breed steps it up at Eagles Hall in Alameda, California, where the sounds of deep Louisiana beckon from an open door: the unmistakable rhythm of the rubboard, or “frottoir,” the accordion and the toe-tapping beat — these are the elements of Zydeco, a tradition of music and dance that has roots in African, Native American, Creole and Cajun cultures.
For almost 20 years, Zydeco fans — young and old — have gathered here on the worn wooden floor to dance to live Zydeco music. Tonight it’s Bay Area native Andre Thierry and his band. Thierry’s French Creole heritage reflects the story of many people in the Bay Area with roots in Louisiana and southeast Texas. His family — like so many others — moved to Northern California during the shipbuilding boom of the post-World War II era.
Dance organizer Dana DeSimone compares Zydeco to a chicken gumbo, and it’s an irresistible mix — but Breed definitely steps out of his comfort zone here to give it a whirl. Maybe you should too.
This OZY encore was originally published March 21, 2015.