Second line parades. I can’t seem to avoid them. Not that I try.
There are a couple of kinds of second line parades.
There are jazz funerals. The people who take part are usually paying their respects to the person who just passed and left the earth. Even for somebody like me who is there mostly to document it, I do it out of respect. I don’t have to know the person. I’m just one more guy sending out good thoughts and prayers. As many of you know, for me, the work is the prayer.
Then there is neighborhood second lines. Those are the ones that are held during the “parade season” in places like Central City, The 9th Ward and the 7th Ward. They are usually organized by a social and aid clubs in that neighborhood. The bands are usually composed of musicians from there. But, participants aren’t limited to the neighborhood. Members of other social clubs, indian tribes and krews come to show their respect. People like me come just to watch or document them.
Finally, there are French Quarter second lines. Once in a blue moon, a huge neighborhood parade might pass through the quarter, but for the most part these parades are organized around an event. Sometimes it’s a wedding like the one in my pictures. Sometimes, for a charity event or even a corporate affair. These folks really just want to participate in something that says New Orleans to them. They are having fun. They are celebrating. The parades are exciting to our visitors who just happen to be standing on the street when one passes by.
Oh, you knew this was coming. The French Quarter second lines are very different from the jazz funerals and neighborhood parades. The people who are performing — the musicians — are paid to do this. It’s only sometimes that the musicians in the neighborhood parades are paid. They play because they are asked. They play because they are honoring their neighborhood. Yes, they often play in multiple parades over the season that might not be in their neighborhood. They mix and match bands. They all know they walking music. The play out of respect. Because they just want to make music.
There is one other difference. These French Quarter parades are very short. Usually, they are composed of a small brass band and the people for whom the parade is held. There are no social club members leading it. By definition, this might not even be a second line because that term refers to the people who are not part of the formal parade who choose to follow behind while they are singing and dancing. But, this is New Orleans. Definitions? Whaaaaa?
Nothing wrong with any of that. It’s just that they are different. I always tell people who ask me about New Orleans, to remember that the Quarter isn’t New Orleans. It’s a neighborhood in New Orleans. Get out of the Quarter and see the rest of the city. And, if you are lucky enough to be here on a Sunday during parade season by all means go see the parade.
These pictures. Once again. Photographer’s luck. I was walking around the Quarter looking for Halloween pictures. I saw the police motorcycle’s blue and red flashing lights and followed my ears and my instincts. I decided to let the motion and movement of the parade carry the pictures. We were also there to eat a little dinner. My companions commented that it was sort of cool to watch me. I went from sort of just strolling along seeing what I could see, to hitting my parade strut in about a second. It never occurred to me. I just do it. I guess.