Join us (rain, Hurricane Dorian, or shine) TONIGHT, Thursday, September 5 at 5:30 PM, for the opening reception of "New Orleans Second Line Parades," on view through December 2019 at the Center for the Study of the American South.
On roughly forty Sundays a year, the hardworking members of New Orleans Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs take turns celebrating the everyday joy and pains of the community in a flashy display of footwork and high fashion, hip-hop bass and thundering brass. Dedicated high-energy revelers suit up for a four-hour funk-fueled strut through the streets (and stairways, stoops, porches, and even roofs) we call home, turning their neighborhoods into temporary dance clubs in a wildly kinetic weekly tradition that showcases New Orleans’s musical, dance, and neighborhood traditions.
I started photographing SAPC Second Lines sporadically when I arrived in New Orleans in 2001, but became more dedicated to consistently documenting the tradition around 2009. After the city’s near-death experience following Hurricane Katrina and a year away from the city, I made shooting the parades part of my own weekly rhythm as a way to both preserve individual memories and serve the communities, who, generation after generation, are expressing themselves on the streets and keeping a distinctive culture alive in street party form.
My goal with these photographs is to capture in a single frame what it feels like to be in the middle of a Second Line—sandwiched between the horn line and a parked car, riding the rope that defines the club’s sacred dance floor, sneaking in to catch the frenetic buckjumping style that matches New Orleans contemporary brass band music. In a city that’s 300 years old, Sunday Second Lines nod to the past but embrace the present, dancing along that thin line where tradition thrives, four hours of unbridled jubilation at a time.
Listen to a second line playlist curated by Pableaux Johnson and preview photographs. Then join us (rain, Hurricane Dorian, or shine) TONIGHT, Thursday, September 5 at 5:30 PM, for the opening reception of “New Orleans Second Line Parades,” on view through December 2019 at the Center for the Study of the American South.