Au Bal de Lafayette

Now located deep in Lafayette, Louisiana, I may not post for several days. I always have to come to this festival on the first day, Wednesday, to get my backstage passes and my badge saying JE PARLE. I have backstage passes because I work this festival. That is one of the reasons why it is so much fun.

By Sunday I will have so much music running through me that it will seem like an elegant lawn party, but coming into town these Wednesday nights I always notice how distinctively rural the rougher part of the crowd is. And maybe it is just that night, but I always notice how thick the cigarrette smoke hangs in the outdoor air and how much cheap beer has already been spilled in the streets — more than at Carnival which, in the country, is a family event.

So I was picking my way through the crowd in a workaday mood, my only goal being to meet my point man and get my papers. People were dancing in the very precise steps they have and I started to smile because it never stops seeming incongruous to me to hear popular music that is not Europop, or African, or Caribbean, or jazz, but that has a strong downbeat and is sung in that refined tongue, French.

As I got my papers the band struck up in English, I am proud to be a Cajun from Church Point, and I said, Mais yeah, cher. Someone passed me a shot of rum in a paper cup, and I was in.


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