Second Line

Satchmo Summer Fest is a French Quarter New Orleans festival celebrating ... a traditional second line parade, a Trumpet Tribute to closes the festival

Second line is a much loved brass band parade tradition from New Orleans for the unofficial parade performers who strut their stuff following the headliner.

The “main line” or “first line” is the main section of the parade, or the members of the actual club with the parading permit as well as the brass band. Those who follow the band just to enjoy the music are called the “second line.” The second line’s style of traditional dance, in which participants walk and sometimes twirl a parasol or handkerchief in the air, is called “second lining.

” It has been called “the quintessential New Orleans art form — a jazz funeral without a body.”

“When a brass band really starts kicking in and the club members and second liners get down with the groove, dancing for all they’re worth, it’s almost as if the parade becomes a single entity. From afar, it looks like a human locomotive rushing by. In the middle, one can become lost in time and space, swept up in the rhythms and joyfulness.

It’s called rollin’, and it happens during that time of year peculiar to New Orleans, second-line season.”

Second Line Singing with Glen David Andrews

Glen David doing a classic song at the Big 7 Second Line. This was one of the best second lines I’ve ever been to.Uploaded by on Jun 7, 2007

Some scholars believe that second lining has its origins in traditional West African circle dances, where children formed a periphery circle outside the main circle of adult dancers. The dance was brought by slaves to New Orleans, where it became incorporated into processions, such as funerals, forcing the ring to straighten into a line. Others note the similarity of the steps – exaggerated, loosely coordinated strutting – to dances performed in Congo Square by slaves given the day off on Sundays.Additional second lines, large or small, may be held for any event which people think merits hiring a parading band for such a style of celebration, including weddings and opening of businesses.The historic predominantly African-American neighborhoods of Treme and Central City are most strongly associated with the traditions, though second lines can often be seen in the Seventh Ward, Uptown, Marigny, Ninth Ward, Mid-City, and at least on occasion in most of the older neighborhoods of the city. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival holds second lines at the Fair Grounds each day of the festival to give visitors a taste of this New Orleans tradition.
Though originally a New Orleans phenomenon, in recent times the style has spread to other parts of the country. For example, in April 2011, musicians and dancers in New York City gathered to perform a jazz funeral for Coney Island, complete with a traditional second line.  Still, second lining remains most common in the New Orleans area.


  1. ^ Baum, Dan. Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans (Spiegel & Grau, 2009), p. 120.
  2. ^ Richard Brent Turner (11 August 2009). Jazz religion, the second line, and Black New Orleans. Indiana University Press. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-253-22120-9. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  3. ^ Roger D. Abrahams (2006). Blues for New Orleans: Mardi Gras and America’s Creole soul. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 31–2. ISBN 978-0-8122-3959-1. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  4. ^ Martin Halliwell (15 March 2007). American culture in the 1950s. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 140–1. ISBN 978-0-7486-1885-9. Retrieved 6 November 2011.
  5. ^ Stelloh, Tim (April 3, 2011). “Jazzy Funeral Parade Marks Coney Island’s Death and Rebirth”. The New York Times (New York City). Retrieved October 30, 2011.




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