NORWAY — If you have never experienced Zydeco Dancing, your opportunity has arrived! The First Universalist Church of Norway will host an evening of Zydeco Dancing!

On Saturday, January 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the church Concert Hall at 479 Main Street, Norway. Admission will be $8 per person, $12 per couple, and $20 for families. Proceeds will benefit the First Universalist Church of Norway. Refreshments will be served.

Zydeco is the music of Southwest Louisiana’s Black Creoles, a group of people of mixed African, Afro-Caribbean, Native American, and European descent who settled in the bayous. Zydeco was influenced by Cajun music, the Blues, and R&B, as well as by the music of Creoles’ original cultures. No one can keep from dancing once they hear the Zydeco beat.

Dave Drago of West Paris, a 20-year aficionado of Zydeco Dancing will give everyone a dance lesson and then the CD dance party will begin. Dave and his dance partner, Melissa Pritchard of Portland, will demonstrate the dance steps and help everyone on the way to becoming Zydeco dancers. For Dave, Zydeco dancing is an essential part of life. Asked how he started Zydeco dancing, Dave said, “Twenty years ago I met a woman at a party and I asked her how I could get to know her better. She said. ‘Zydeco dancing.’” So, he took up Zydeco dancing. Dave and the woman were dance partners and an “item” for seven years but ultimately broke up. Nevertheless, Dave is still Zydeco dancing.

The word Zydeco gets its name from a colloquial Creole French expression “Les haricots ne sont pas salés” meaning “the snap beans aren’t salty,” a Creole idiom for “the times are hard.” Like many forms of music, Zydeco music (and dancing) provides an escape from the hardships of everyday life. Core instruments in Zydeco bands are the accordion, and the frottoir (a washboard worn like a vest), in addition to the fiddles, keyboards, electric guitars, bass and drums. Zydeco’s songs are about everything from food and love to the injustices rural southerners have to bear. But, it is the joy of the accordion driven Zydeco beat that brings people of all cultures together on the dance floor.

Dave retired to the Oxford Hills two years ago after a long career as a quality control engineer in Massachusetts and in New Hampshire. He drives back to Massachusetts, to Portland and other distant places for Zydeco dances. He hopes he can bring Zydeco dancing closer to home. “For me, not only is Zydeco dancing fun, it is community building,” said Dave. Zydeco dancing is its own genre but it is somewhat like swing dancing. To learn more about Zydeco dancing, Dave recommends the Boston Zydeco website. But, the best way to learn more is to come to the First Universalist Church of Norway Zydeco Dance on Saturday, January 25 and “Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler!” (Let the good times roll!).

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