In this short documentary directed by Tabitha Denholm shines a light on Louisiana’s R&B-Infused Zydeco trail-riding culture. The film brings a behind-the-curtain look at the way the good people of Louisiana — namely the outskirts of Lafayette — dance, sing, eat, drink and most importantly, ride. Imbued in tradition, we watch and learn what their culture means to them as proud American-born Creoles that don’t miss a beat each day.
“I loved the idea of going to massive parties on horseback,” says British director Tabitha Denholm. “Its word-of-mouth element reminded me of the early-90s raves in the UK—it is huge, but it’s outside of the mainstream media. You find out about events from flyers or from your mates.” Filmed in rural areas outside Lafayette over four days that included a raucous Labor Day weekender, Denholm’s short captures the fundamental relationship between horses and zydeco music and Louisiana’s Creole population. While Cajun grew from the white tradition in Southern Louisiana, zydeco evolved as a faster, more rhythm-driven incarnation of Creole or ‘la la’ music as it used to be called. Trail riding combines both riding and dancing elements, as groups of young and old set out through the countryside until they reach a designated party spot. Zydeco has always absorbed other types of music, and the scene has been reinvigorated by the influence of hip-hop and R&B. As loops and breaks have bolstered the traditional accordion and washboard, so a new audience has saddled up to find the party. “In New Orleans they told me, ‘The real action is in the countryside,’” says Denholm. “And it’s true. These dudes are so proud of their horses. They customize them, paint their hooves, plait their hair. They’re like mods with their scooters.”