Fais do-do to "hippy ti-yo" : dance halls of south Louisiana

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2014-05

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Abstract

Music is an essential piece of the culture of south Louisiana. Three genres -- Cajun, Zydeco, and Swamp Pop -- grew up in this region. The genres developed as separate cultures, primarily Cajun and Creole, developed and blended before entering a period of cultural assimilation in the early twentieth century. The music, and the social dancing that accompanies it, took place at weekly gatherings in rural residences in the eighteenth century. Commercial dance halls began to appear in the state around 1900 and have evolved throughout the century. The evolution of dance halls and their use follows a cultural evolution from relative isolation to assimilation and eventually cultural awareness and promotion as tourism blossomed in the state. Despite their significant place in the region's history, dance halls are not yet recognized in any official capacity, including the National Register of Historic Places. The Center for Louisiana Studies is collecting information about the extant and demolished buildings to advocate for preservation of dance hall culture and extant buildings. I am contributing to this advocacy effort with a National Register of Historic Places Multiple-Property Documentation Form for extant historic dance halls. The form will discuss the historic contexts of Cajun, Zydeco, and Swamp Pop music and establish typical and variable characteristics, both physical and associative, for dance hall buildings. Registration requirements based on significance and integrity will establish criteria for eligibility of extant buildings for the National Register of Historic Places.

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