Cajun dance club promises to 'let the good times roll!'

August 24 2018
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A CAJUN dance club is offering locals the chance to experience the taste and sounds of Louisiana, all in the heart of Bristol.

 Cajun music has a long history in Bristol as there has been a weekend-long Bristol Cajun and Zydeco Festival held in the city since 2004. When the festival took a year’s sabbatical, husband and wife Tony and Grace O'Hare from Bishopston decided to set up the Bristol Cajun Swamp Club in March 2016. They missed the music and dancing so much that they wanted to create a club with fellow enthusiasts in the area. 

Bristol Cajun Swamp Club is a non-profit making club that is run wholly by volunteers. They have a Saturday Night Cajun Dance once a month that is held at COGS (Church of the Good Shepherd Hall) just off Kings Drive in Bishopston, and new people are always welcome. Some members of the group travel to the dances from Gloucester and Devon, which have live music from local and national Cajun and Zydeco musicians. In addition, Tony and Grace always do a beginners lesson at the start of the evening so everyone who comes along can learn the basics of Cajun dancing. 

 Tony said: “When you hear the word "Cajun" you may think of Cajun cooking and hot spices, which is quite right. Famous Cajun dishes like Jambalaya, File Gumbo and Crawfish Pie give a flavour of Cajun music too, which is an earthy, rootsy French-influenced music particularly found in Louisiana around the New Orleans area. 

 “The music has a motto "Laissez les bon temps rouler!" which means "Let the good times roll!" and we certainly have had many, many good times dancing to Cajun music over the 14 or so years we've been dancing. 

“It's great fun, easy to learn, and very infectious, with waltzes, two-steps, jives and jitterbug dance steps and bluesy rhythms. You don't need a partner to come along, as it's very sociable, and everyone swaps dance partners during the evening. The "Cajun scene" is one of the best things about the music - we feel like a great group of friends who meet up at dances and Cajun events.”

 Tony and Grace made their first trip to Louisiana in April this year to experience Cajun and Zydeco music first hand, as well as meet the musicians, eat the food and explore the bayous (swamps) that make the area so famous. 

The next Bristol Cajun Swamp Club dance is on Saturday September 15 at COGS with live music from Jambalaya – a group of Cajun musicians from Bristol and Gloucester led by musician and songwriter Dennis Parnham. 

The Bristol Cajun and Zydeco Festival will  be held at the Folk House on Park Street from October 12-14, with a lineup featuring local band Bayou Tapestry among the live acts. 

 For more information about the Bristol Cajun Swamp Club,  email  Tony and Grace at bristolcajunswampclub@ gmail.com or visit their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/bristolcajunswampclub