a second line is a small parade generally comprised of a brass band and anyone willing to walk along with it. you can be just sitting in your house, minding your business on a tuesday afternoon, and one of these ramshackle affairs can come blaring along down your street. and, should you feel so inclined, you will be welcome to throw on yer houserobe and join in. this has actually happened to me since i’ve been here (minus the houserobe as i was already dressed). here’s what that one looked like:
technically, the term “second line” derives from real parades in which there is a “main line,” generally a formal parading “krewe” (see glossary, october 25, 2009), and a “second line,” generally comprised of revelers who are just following along. second lines, however, have come to be their very own independent entity. they’re similar to jazz funerals except that, well, nobody’s dead. sometimes a second line is planned, publicized, and put on as a memorial for someone or a celebration of something, and sometimes it is spontaneous and/or put on just because someone felt like it. there’s very little people in new orleans won’t rally behind if it’s celebratory in nature.
speaking of second lines, last night was my dear friend peaches’s birthday. her husband, in addition to taking her out to dinner and throwing her a little surprise after-dinner get-together, had requested that we put on a wee second line for her. we had maybe ten people, a single trombone player (thing one), a bunch of whistles, some beads, and some umbrellas. with that, we marched down bordeaux street around 8:30pm, as noisily as we could and, as planned, overtook peaches and her beau walking back from dinner.
it really was kinda priceless. when she saw and heard us coming from the distance, she thought she had just birthday-lucked upon someone else’s second line. when she realized that she knew the participants, it still took her a few ticks to realize we were there for her. after that, she was overwhelmed with us having endeavored as such on her behalf. (if i had a heart, this is the part where its cockles would be warm.) (*giggles*…i said “cockles.”)
also on the topic: last saturday, my new friend sad old red (who is neither sad nor old but is indeed red) and i had made plans to attend the fringe festival “parade” (http://www.nofringe.org/). the quotes there are intentional. we showed up ready to see a parade and found a small wad of about forty-some participants walking down saint claude avenue. granted, some were in costume and three were on stilts, but still—a parade this was not.
it was a good second line, though. brass band. chick with a parasol. a few of those head-to-toe-silver-painted people. there were even throws. i caught a barbie doll (which i handed to a little girl), a stuffed alligator (which i left atop a trash can later after peaches pointed out a questionable stain ‘pon it), a highly decorated baby doll (which, upon consensus with peaches, was dubbed stella and kept), a tiny stuffed orange teddy bear, and some beads. much of this, i ascertained, was leftover swag from previous parades (e.g., a string of beads i caught with a roller skate pendant marked “MUSES 2008”), but i actually thought it was good use of old stuff, and having throws of anything made the “parade” all the better. any-hoo…i’ve included some “photos” i took that day. i’ll let the quotation marks speak for themselves.