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Lance Henry & Lisa Mitchell

Lisa Mitchell and Lance Henry, zydeco dance partners.

Lisa Mitchell and Lance Henry, zydeco dance partners. Photo by John Noltner.

Search online for California zydeco videos and you’ll inevitably stumble upon the smooth moves of dance partners Lisa Mitchell and Lance Henry. The duo came to zydeco separately and have been dancing together for three years. It fills their lives: The weekend before our interview, they had each danced for 13 hours at events around the Bay Area.

Mitchell discovered zydeco at an outdoor concert about 12 years ago; she was hooked after the very first song. Henry, whose mother is Creole, grew up hearing the accordion music of Queen Ida. He preferred jazz as an youngster but awoke to the joyfulness of zydeco at Ardenwood, a California festival, when he was 17. (He still attends.) In this clip, they talk about the emotional power of the dance—and recall one particularly crowd-wowing moment.