One of the best things I’ve ever done is Second Line in Central City, New Orleans. Second lining is when you walk and sometimes twirl a parasol or handkerchief in the air behind a brass band parade. I had a red and peacock feathered fan (faux), and thank everything because it was HOT that day!
Here is how I did it. 1. Church is optional, but you would be foolish to not attend a service in Dillard University’s Lawless Memorial Chapel (where members of the Beecher Memorial Congregational United Church of Christ are currently attending while their church is being rebuilt). The music was amazing. Perhaps you’ve heard the expression “their voices lifted us up”…that about hits the nail on the head here. Wow. Oh, and people hug. I have not been to church in years, frankly because the one in my hometown had a pretty nasty minister (he did not like children). Here I felt welcome and loved and had fun.
2. Eat and drink, you will need nourishment before second lining. Do not pass the opportunity to eat at Lil’ Dizzy’s. This place has the best french toast I have ever had in my life. In my life. I needed to repeat to drive that point home. The fried chicken, grits, buttered vegetables, and home fries are also very good. My friends enjoyed their made-to-order omelets. I don’t even know where they source their glasses from, but they are huge. I could only drink 1/2 my iced tea (did I wish I had that with me later). It must have held a quart. The only thing as good as the food? The company – Amanda, Cheka, and Cely from the NOAAM event. Cely’s mom/Cheka’s grandmother was even there and she was terrific…I’ll never forget her telling us how she walked out of her second floor window onto the ground after Hurricane Betsy demolished her home. Cely brought the journal she kept in 2005. I’m sharing a picture with you. It belongs in a museum. People thought they were going to be back in the city by the next day. Imagine rescheduling a meeting and then a week later the building you were supposed to have the meeting in is no more and the attendees are living in shelters in other states.
3. You find the band, get more water, and hang out till things get moving and then you get moving. Oh, great advice from Amanda – note where you parked your car and then take a cab back to it. Have fun, and stay hydrated. It’s a blast!!!
4. If this is your first time second lining and/or you are visiting New Orleans go to Frenchmen Street for some live music and cold drinks. Amanda and I recovered from the heat and our 45-minute (it was all fun!) cab wait at the Spotted Cat. Terrific joint/dive with room for dancing and a long bar where cocktail and beer are served – of course! Make that another Pimm’s Cup please. If I lived in New Orleans that place might well by my hangout.