WHAT IS A SECOND LINE?
Second lines date back to the mid-1800's and began as a jazz funeral procession. Families and friends would march a long slow procession with the casket and a mourning brass band to the cemetary - carrying hankies to wipe the tears and umbrellas to shade themselves from the hot Southern sun. After laying the body to rest, the band kicked up the beat and the party started, celebrating the life of the deceased and helping release their soul. Those hankies and umbrellas turned into dance props, waving and twirling to the peppy beat of the band.
The family and the brass band made up the 'first line' of the parade. Onlookers, friends, and aquintances who came to join in the celebration and pay their respects made up the 'second line.' 'Second lining' refers to the actual dance the celebrators do - a dancing strut that keeps the participants up to speed with the brass band.
Now days - the true art form and spirit of the second line still exists in the heart of New Orleans, but it's purpose has broadened. You can still catch a glimpse of the traditional jazz funeral, but more than likely will run into many more second lines celebrating weddings, birthdays, corporate events, parties, holidays, and festivals.
Mark your special occasion with a second line parade and become a part of a true New Orleans tradition!