by Felicia Maffia
The following people signed the incorporation papers for Northwest Zydeco Music and Dance Association in March 1994: Back row: Richard Smallwood, Lauri Langton, Delmar Langton; in front: Boo Scott, Vicky Rothwell, Laura Taylor (seated), Mary Lee Lykes, Clyde Ecby, and Terry Winfield.
If you are a recent zydeco convert, you might be surprised to learn that only a few years ago this incredible music was little known in the Seattle area. While Cajun music has been popular in the Northwest for well over 15 years, it was only during the last three that zydeco bands started visiting Seattle regularly. Perhaps less surprising, participation in the highly social Cajun community was the common element bringing early zydeco enthusiasts together.
While exploring the San Francisco Bay Area music scene in late 1989, Seattle Cajun dancer Richard Smallwood encountered an exciting new dance step. Returning to Seattle, Richard introduced zydeco to friends Terry Winfield, Vicky Rothwell, and Laura Taylor. This core foursome could only satisfy their taste for zydeco by dancing to taped music at small house parties and sharing their new interest with fellow dancers.
In 1991, a zydeco dance workshop by J.C. Gallow widened zydeco interest in Seattle. In spring 1992, a small group of zydeco enthusiasts traveled to Louisiana Sue's Gumbo Ya Ya in Napa, California. Dancing with Creole people for the first time, this group became truly inspired and were even more determined to bring zydeco to folks back home.
The fledgling association held its first formal meeting in August 1992 and by fall was meeting regularly. Some of the early goals were teaching dance classes, locating and involving more local Creoles, attracting more men to the dance community, and convincing out of town bands to visit Seattle. The first informal dance lessons were held in August 1993 at the Loyal Heights Community Center, and the group began making progress.
In September 1993, Motordude Zydeco heightened zydeco fever in Seattle. With the Zydeco Flames scheduled to follow in February, it was time to form committees and get organized. The group incorporated as a non-profit organization in March 1994 and became the Northwest Zydeco Music & Dance Association!