New Orleans is famous for its music, so much so that the city’s name is almost synonymous with the word jazz. Other music, like Zydeco, thrives in Creole country of Southern Louisiana, while Bounce sprang up in the late 1980s. The styles of music are distinctly different, but one commonality binds them all -- when listening to them, the body takes over, and soon enough, feet are moving, and torsos are rotating.
“You can tell who is from Louisiana, because if we hear the drop of a beat, and it sounds like it comes from us, we’re all going to respond with some kind of swing from our body,” said Marissa “Moe Joe” Joseph, local dancer, teacher, and culture entrepreneur.
The city’s music and dance found their origins with Afro-Caribbean slaves, whose rhythms and rituals were so powerful that they withstood oppression. What started as African dance turned into jazz, which evolved into many other participatory, celebratory, and improvisational dance forms. The city continues to have an influx of immigrants from around the world, with each culture bringing its own style of dances that are embraced by New Orleans’ renowned hospitality.
“We do a really good job of making everyone’s culture feel welcomed and supported within music and dance,” Joseph said. “The most important thing I want people to understand about Louisiana movement is the freedom and the overall swing of the body -- that’s a multigenerational thing that’s never left us.”
For those who are ready to stop reading and start dancing, here are 11 spots to hit up: