My painting of Second Line's in New Orleans!
Gesina waiting for the second line to start - with Bots the sofa behind
Every sunday me and my friends go in New Orleans went to church - the Second Line Parades. The Second Line is a parade and 'to second line' means to follow the parade - behind the band (first line) and therefore to dance alongside the band as they march through the ghetto. It is a community event and there are very few whites who take part - about 5% of the crowd are non-afro-american - but everyone is made welcome as long as they 'roll with it!' get in the groove and 'show their footwork!'
"Rolling with it!"
Each parish in New Orleans has a local Social Aid and Pleasure club which take on the costs and organizing for one or two sunday parades a year - each vying with others to outdo the others in style - with the best bands and utmost bling. The social clubs as their name suggests also fulfill a support role in the community but the second lines are their time to bring pure joy to the people of the parish who support them. This is a flier for once such social and pleasure club:
Second Line crew
The first second line I went to blew my mind but I was lucky did not see the Super Sunday second line first because I think I would have short circuited out of amazement and the utter thrill. When I was not dancing for joy I was on the verge of tears brought about by the intensity and power of the collective expression of freedom and ripping energy of the brass band.
New era brass band playing on Frenchman street
However, I see now that compared to the Super Sunday Second Line - my first experience had been tiddling. At this event not one, but two marching bands kept up a constant party atmosphere with no breaks often playing at the same time with the slightly smaller group 100 meters or so ahead. This event was hosted by The Revolution Social Aid and Pleasure Club whose dance members arrived walking along side 3 black stretch limos with a police motorbike escort cruising at walking pace down the boulevard. There are about 12 dance members and they were all dressed in black suits with black bow-ties and matching ties, shoes, white ear radios, sun glasses and Barack Obama badges walking slowly alongside the limos pretending to be security for the president.
The whole parade goes on for several hours and the dancers and bands take breaks every hour or so at designated bars or social clubs. After the first break the dancers all changed to red and orange suits with huge ornate feather decked sashes with their names emblazoned in beautiful gold embroidery. Everything they wore was red or orange and on top they had super fly yellow hats with bright orange rims and hat-bands. Basically they were the most fly possie you will ever see short of meeting the King of Kebabistan and his retinue of humous shaped trumpet players. The rebirth marching band were playing behind them and as I say 100 meters ahead there was another marching band playing with the young Revolution club: about 10 children all under 10 years old in matching red and orange suits with all the same paraphanalia in miniture and dancing like water droplets in a pan full of oil. Pop whizz snazzeroo!
Money Waster Krew hand held fan - Treme museum
I was luckerly enough all in red in big red pants and red shoes and a red waste coat and had my mao tse tung hat with several big featers in the top.
Me second lining - in the background you can see the feathered fans of the Revolution Social Aid and Pleasure Club
It feels much better to be dressed up for such an event - you can really get into the groove, bling out and floss to the max with all the other cats. Actually most of the maddest second line dancers seemed a little mentally disturbed. One muscular fellow was dressed in a mini-skirt and tight sailor boy t-shirt with lots of golden anchors on it and some high heels and a wig. He was strutting around a LOT and a big mumma told me that he wasn't gay but just did it for the second lines. I think Afro-Americans have a bit of an issue with being gay - most macho cultures do! Personally I don't know how a chap can advertise his homosexuality more efficiently than hooting around in a red wig and mini-skirt, showing people your bra and talking in a high pitched girlie voice, but I may be wrong. It really may just be his idea of a good time! At a classic epic legend moment he set off up the fly-over when everyone else was staying on the slip way below him. He stood there in the distance alone on an empty sun-bleached motor-way and stuck his bum one way and his boobs the other and took a Napolionic-like pose in front of the biggest elevated spagetti junction from hell I have ever seen. The crowd loved it - EPIC!
The Second line heading for the expressway
The other coolest second liner was totally off his rocker - he didn't stop dancing once and his one most repeated move looked like a child with a huge head trying desperately to pull his shirt off without undoing the buttons. He spent 5 hours running in front of the killer bands wrestling with his shirt and spilling his beer. OK there was one other nut case who whenever he saw me would do a head stand with one beer in his hand and drink his beer like that and then point at me and run away. OK I think I honour myself as the next on the second line freak list: I was dressed in red waste coat and pants - as i say - having discarded the red shirt because I was too hot - and did a lot of wild footwork, a little down-rock and several flips most of which were not too slick! Still, cool stuff.
There was also a huge (fat) dude in a super slick beige suit with big red leather shoes who was doing the baddest hot shuffling you could ever wish to see - he was not nutty and I chatted with him just to make him know i was not nutty either! I said: "YESSS captain, looking gooooooooooood! AWWWWW! YEAH YEAH! I SAY I LOOOOVED HER, BUT I DONT LOVE HER ANY MOOOOOORE! She broke my little HEEEAAARRT, BUT I DONT LOVE HER ANY MORREEEE!" I kind of sang that part - it was the coolest song the band were playing - so he knew i was bona fide mentally present and correct. AAAAAWWWW!!!