Dancing in the Streets: A Exhibition of Second Line History & Culture

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NEW ORLEANS—The Historic New Orleans Collection opens it’s doors again to in-person visitors. They showcase a new exhibition perfect for festival season entitled, Dancing in the Streets: Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs of New Orleans.

Since the creation of mutual aid societies founded by African Americans in the 19th century, New Orleans has been in a dance. The new exhibition by THNOC hopes to express the city’s love for second line history and culture.

Eric Seiferth is a historian at The Historic New Orleans Collection and one of the three curators of the exhibition and says, “In second lines, you’re seeing colors and you’re seeing people. All of your senses are coming into play and you hear the music, you are smelling the food and you’ll probably feel the sun on your back. For me, it’s always a sunny day in New Orleans during a second line.”

Dancing in the Streets is a two-year project in collaboration with more than 30 community organizations, as well as club members. The exhibition is dedicated to two special collaborators: Sylvester Francis of the Backstreet Cultural Museum and Ronald W. Lewis of the House of Dance and Feathers; who both passed away last year.

The exhibition is open to the public for free, until June 2021 and will be go alongside a book that is to be published by THNOC during the summer. Masks are required to enter THNOC premises and it is advised to make a reservation to see the exhibition because at the time, 20 visitors are safely allowed to enter at a time.

The exhibition showcases two rooms on the third floor of the Tricentennial Wing at the building on Royal street and has 12 photographers, priceless artifacts, a music playlist and 32 interactive interviews by prominent members of the community that can be accessed by smartphone.

Second line seasons usually last from August to June and the New Orleans city permit allows about 40 Sundays for parading. During an unprecedented and quiet period in the city’s history, the exhibition arrives right on time.

“I want people to see that it’s a lot of hard work, money, blood sweat & tears and passion that makes these enjoyable events possible. I hope that when the bands and clubs do come back, we can embrace what a special gift they are to the city,” says Eric Seiferth.

To reserve a visit to see Dancing in the Streets: Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs of New Orleans click here.

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