Origins of the Cajun Jitterbug

by Wayne Bridges

I started to dance to Cajun music when I was 16. I first saw the Cajun

jitterbug back then. It was actually being called by the younger people a
Cajun two-step. The style of dance was coming out of clubs in and around
Lafayette and copied by dancers going to the college clubs in New Orleans.

We were dancing the now Cajun jitterbug at clubs that no longer exists.
Places like Jay's in Cakton, Boo Boo's in Breaux Bridge and the Bon Ton in
Lafayette. All of these places pre date Mulates by several years. A little
more trivia, Bon Ton was a black club that had a dance on Wednesday nights
and was called white night. It was the only night you would dare venture to
Bon Ton. A band that was made up many members of the now Beausoleil called
Red Beans & Rice review was the regular "white night band".

When Bands like Clifton Chenier, Rockin Dopsie Sr, Coteau, and Zachary
Richard were playing thats where you would find the college crowd dancing
Cajun jitterbug. When we would venture out to a barn dance in the country you
would find the older crowd, which was our parents at the time, doing a
regular two-step.

In New Orleans there became a regular one night a week dance at Maple Leaf
Bar. A local New Orleans band headed up by Bruce Daigrepont started to be
popular. It was not long after that, that a lady named Peggy Odum started the
first Cajun dance lessons and was teaching them at Delgado College next to
City Park. Peggy also started "Peggy's Cajun Dance Troupe" which I was a
member of. We would be hired to attend Convention parties where they would
hire Beausoleil or Bruce to play for their functions. We would put on demos
and then pull people out of the audience to dance and get the party started.

We were only dancing Cajun jitterbug and Cajun waltz's back then. No one was
doing a Zydeco step, and only the "old guys" were doing a Cajun two-step.

So my feeling on this is if the CFMA excepts the evolving style of Cajun
music over the last 30 years as still being "traditional" then they should
except the evolving style of dance that came along because of the change of

Well that my 2 cents for what ever its worth,

[Editors Note: The letter is in response to the below article]

In one controversial decision, CFMA banned the use of the popular Cajun jitterbug by its dance performer members on the grounds that it is not traditional. CFMA is correct in that the Cajun jitterbug is a relative newcomer to Cajun culture. It was invented within the last thirty years by non-Cajun folkdancers from New Orleans who regularly drove to Mulate's Restaurant in Breaux Bridge near Lafayette to dine and dance to Cajun music. The dance caught on among Cajuns as well as non-Cajuns, and now it is called the Cajun jitterbug. CFMA's position on this is vulnerable to criticism since, if one examines the history of Cajun dance, it becomes apparent that dance forms have been regularly, if not frequently, transformed, added, and dropped and that any attempt to define a "traditional" Cajun dance form requires a dubious assertion of preeminence for a particular time period. As recently as the late nineteenth century, Cajuns danced quadrilles, minuets, waltzes, polkas, and mazurkas. Of these, only the waltz survived into contemporary use. The Cajun two-step was added later, probably imported from Texas during the Texas swing era in the early twentiet