A brass band blares. A hand-decorated parasol twirls. A ragtag group behind the band waves handkerchiefs to the beat of the drum, while a grand marshal in a snazzy suit and jaunty hat leads the way – out-dancing, out buck-jumping them all as he waves his feathered fan.
Lucky you. You’ve just stumbled across a New Orleans second line. Everyone is welcome to join in and lots do. This is the “joie de vivre” everyone talks about. This feeling of pure happiness that swells up in your chest. This is what makes New Orleans different from anywhere else on Earth.
Second lining has been called "the quintessential New Orleans art form – a jazz funeral without a body.”At one time, second line parades were mostly associated with social aid and pleasure clubs and jazz funerals, but now there are several thousand every year, most for weddings and other special events.
There are two parts to a second line. The first line is made up of the grand marshal or parade leader, the band, and whoever is being honored. In a jazz funeral, the family and the hearse are part of the first line. In a wedding, the bride and groom and wedding party take a position up front. The strutting revelers who fall in behind are referred to as the second line.