A Dance That Began With a Love for Zydeco Music

Karen Hysell was not looking for romance when she started the Traditional Music and Dance Conservancy events three years ago. But a year later, that's what she got.

"The real point of (the conservancy dances) is to keep the music available and increase the popularity of the music and increase the locations where musicians who play it can be heard," she said.

The conservancy has a dance, featuring the energetic blend of music called Zydeco, scheduled Friday night in South Pasadena.

Hysell, 37, said she was introduced to Louisiana Cajun music and dancing and Zydeco, its close cousin, about 14 years ago.

"I discovered the music and then I learned of a few activities in the area that I started going to. And I just got hooked," she said. "It's a good place to meet people. Everybody mixes around."

Ah, but there was that nice-looking neighbor that Hysell just didn't have the nerve to say hello to. As part of the local Neighborhood Watch program, "I had been in charge of the neighborhood," she said. "I knew what house he lived in and everything. But I had never really spoken to him."

Then Chuck Hysell wandered into one of Karen's dances.

"He was just a delight," she said, "because he was already a ballroom dancer," which made it even easier for him to pick up the simple "limping" step that is the basis for Zydeco and Cajun dancing. "I would never have met the boy next door, but since I could talk to him in this setting, that was comfortable."

The couple dated for about six months, then two-stepped down the aisle.

Friday's dance--for couples and singles--will be held at the War Memorial Hall, 435 Fair Oaks Ave. It starts with beginner lessons at 8 p.m. The Zydeco Party Band will play from 8:30 to 11 p.m.

Admission is $10, with Cajun/Creole food for $5. Information: (818) 793-4333 or (818) 304-0127.

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