Tipitina’s Fais-dodo turns the legendary New Orleans music club into a Cajun dance hall once a month. Accordion player Bruce Daigrepont and his band fill the dance floor as they play high-energy Cajun two-steps and waltzes.
what is a Fais-dodo
Simply put, a fais-dodo is the name given to Cajun house dances in south Louisiana. Bruce Daigrepont, who grew up in a Cajun French-speaking household in New Orleans, explains the name. “Dodo is a slang expression for the word dormir. Dormir means to sleep,” Daigrepont tells me. He says the expression grew out of Cajun house dances, when families would go to a neighbor’s home for a night of live music and dancing. “The mothers who had young children and babies wanted to join the festivities,” Daigrepont says. So they would encourage their children to go to sleep, telling them, “fais-dodo, to go to sleep”,
Tipitina’s monthly cajun dance party
Tipitina’s opened its doors in 1977 as a neighborhood music venue, often featuring performances by legendary rhythm and blues great Professor Longhair. Since then, the Napoleon Avenue club has featured a who’s who of blues and rock performers. But the Sunday evening Fais-dodo’s have been taking place at Tip’s for more than three decades.
Daigrepont holds the record at Tipitina’s for the most performances. For years the Fais-dodo’s took place every Sunday. Now, the Cajun music and dancing is held once a month. General manager Brian “Tank” Greenberg estimates that Diagrepont has played more than 1,400 times on the Tipitina’s stage. No other musician comes close to that number.
Dancers treated to red beans and rice
When the band takes a short break, Greenberg puts a large pot of steaming red beans and rice on the bar. And while the musicians catch their breath, patrons are treated to a traditional New Orleans serving of red beans. “I cook the red beans myself,” Greenberg tells me. He says it’s a day of stirring, “filling up my biggest pot with red beans and adding andouille and pickled pork and all the seasonings,” And Greenberg explains that the monthly fais-dodo is part of the mission at uptown music club. “Cajun music is something that is so uniquely Louisiana that it’s perfectly within what we’re trying to do at Tipitina’s,” Greenberg says.
tipitina’s fais-dodo featured on tv
Tipitina’s is located at 501 Napoleon Avenue in New Orleans, at the corner of Tchoupitoulas Street. Phone: (504) 895-8477. Check out Tipitina’s upcoming shows.