Second Lines


Yes, we have parades pretty much every weekend in New Orleans, and no, we can’t really explain how this tradition makes us feel so different and distinct from the rest of America. It just does. For you, Sundays are Sundays. For us, Sundays are days for church, then grabbing a beer and dancing your butt off in the street (football will probably work its way into the schedule as well). We have the institution of the Second Line to thank for this state of affairs.

Essentially, for every weekend between September and June, a different Social Aid & Pleasure (S&P) Club (explained below) puts on a parade. The summer months are a little too hot for second lining, so the S&P clubs take that time off. For the rest of the year, they divvy up Sundays like cookies.

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The members of each S&P club come dressed to the nines, usually in spiff suits accented by feather fans that wouldn’t be out of place on a Mardi Gras Indian costume. Other S&P members may just wear t-shirts advertising the club; these members often hold ropes that form the edges of the affair. A brass band (or two) are hired to provide musical accompaniment. Things are scheduled to kick off at 1pm; the whole shebang gets rolling at 1:30 (alright, to be fair, Second Lines are feeling a little more punctual these days).

The band plays, the S&P members start kicking up their feet and syncopating across the street, and then hundreds of folks come in to dance behind the band. And these hundreds are the second line, as opposed to the band that forms the first line. The parades can last up to four hours, but there are always stops after every 30 or 40 minutes to drink at a bar, grab some food or use the bathroom (parade route sheets may read: “Step 1, go to Joe’s Bar. Step 2, stop at Dickey’s house”).

To find out when and where a Second Line is, check out the WWOZ Takin’ it to the Streets blog.

Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs

Origins of Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs

Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs can be traced back to 19th century benevolent societies that provided health care and burial services for their members. Besides these benefits, the clubs also encouraged leadership skills and provided a space for discussing social issues, as well as entertainment in the form of picnics, parades, dinners and balls.

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The Arts Council of New Orleans

The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.


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Southern Food

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

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The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.



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