Fais do do

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How this nursery rhyme became synonymous with a raucous Cajun dance party is somewhat of a mystery.

Fais do-do

Common folklore is that the term is used when lulling a little one to sleep before a night out dancing, when asked where they were going and what they would be doing, perhaps "fais do-do" was the perfect answer: Rather, members of the media, coaches, administrators and student-athletes will be treated to a party they have likely never seen — or heard of.

The music and dancing will be provided by the Nouveaux Cajun Xpress and the food by Mr. And about that food…crab, shrimp, crawfish, muffulettas a sandwich made of olive salad, mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham, and provolone , jambalaya, jalapeno cornbread, an oyster bar serving both raw and charbroiled oysters, a whole roasted suckling pig, beignets, and bread pudding with whiskey sauce are all on the menu. It is safe to say no other conference is providing that kind of fare.

It is quite a leap, however, from an action done to soothe a baby, to an adult activity so very different from soothing a baby. Parents put babies on hush mode at any number of locations using such techniques: Would it have been as likely to designate Catholic mass the "fais do-do," because babies are tranquilized in a sequestered baby area meant for the same purpose?

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Mothers "do-doed" and continue to "dodo" their babies constantly, without regard to location. As the saying goes, there is nothing as wonderful as a sleeping baby, and a public dance is only one of a practically infinite series of desirable slumbering baby situations.

In my own experience, babies tend to like the ambient noise of public places, particularly public places filled with fairly loud, rhythmic pulses, and it strikes me that a baby would be as likely to "dodo" on the dance floor as in an isolated baby area. When asked what they would be doing over the weekend, did young adults once really say, in so many words, we're going to "make the baby go to sleep"?

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There is another explanation, however, that has been overlooked. In all cases, the call means virtually the same thing: Early "Cajun" musicians, such as Dennis McGee, not to mention many early Creole jazz musicians, cut their teeth playing for quadrilles before the more simplified couple dances took over Daigle ; Fiehrer ; Szwed and Morton Marks Furthermore, when seeking to derive an etymology for "fais do-do" as a Louisiana dance event, it simply makes much better sense.

There remains much to be said about this topic, and certainly both etymologies could have overlapped. The striking disparity between the two meanings of "fais do-do" may have struck adults as amusing and even convenient.

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When lulling a little one to sleep before a night out dancing, when asked where they were going and what they would be doing, perhaps "fais do-do" was the perfect answer: At the very least, we should consider that there is more to the story than babies dozing in the dim lamplight of rural dance halls. From Quadrille to Stomp: The Creole Origins of Jazz.


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Popular Music 10 1: The Journal of American Folklore People of the Bayou: Cajun Life in Lost America. New Orleans City Guide.

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