These photographs were taken by Russell Lee as part of the Farm Security Administration and now kept at the Library of Congress. The Cajun Fais do-do was at Crowley in Louisiana as part of the National Rice Festival then in its second year in 1938. It’s now called the International Rice Festival.
According to Jushua Clegg Caffery the term ‘Fais do-do’ (do is pronounced dough) refers to a public dance of some sort often held on a Sunday afternoon. The term is often said to have evolved from the practice of older relatives lulling babies to sleep in the ‘Parc aux petits’ – a room for young children in the back of Louisiana dance halls. Caffery offers an alternative however and one that is almost certainly correct. He writes:
There is another explanation, however, that has been overlooked. In various folk dancing traditions throughout America and Europe, the contra dance call/step dos-à-dos, from the French meaning “back to back,” gave rise to a diversity of vernacular terms. For instance, in Western square dancing, dos-à-dos transmuted into “dosado,” and remains a popular dance step and call to this day. In fact, www.dosado.com is the central online hub for contemporary Western square dancing. Similarly, in English, “dos à dos” became “do si do,” a familiar call retained in a number of Anglo-American folk songs and dance traditions.
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