A fais do-do is a Cajun dance party, originating before World War II. According to Mark Humphrey the parties were named for "the gentle command ('go to sleep') young mothers offered bawling infants." He quotes early Cajun musician Edwin Duhon of the Hackberry Ramblers, "She'd go to the cry room, give the baby a nipple and say, 'Fais do-do.' She'd want the baby to go to sleep fast, 'cause she's worried about her husband dancing with somebody else out there."
'Do-do' itself is a shortening of the French verb dormir (to sleep), used primarily in speaking to small children. The phrase is comparable to the American English "beddy-bye".
'Fais do do' is an old French lullaby, a song sung to children when putting them down for the night. Its existence in Cajun culture as a source for dances, or bands, comes from an affection for the term itself.
Sheriff Harry Lee of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana used to host one of the most famous contemporary fais do-do, an annual bash which raises money for his reelection campaigns and for charity. The fais do-do was featured in the November 28, 2006 broadcast of NPR's All Things Considered.
- Notes from the Roots n' Blues CD "Cajun Dance Party - Fais Do-Do" Sony, 1994.
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