Second Line

Informant: Libby Flint, age 59, New Orleans resident of 36 years, originally from Upstate New York and Vermont. Collected May 22, 2016 and recorded on iphone.

Verbal Lore: Folk speach, slang- associated Customary, tradition, dance, celebration


United States of America

Context:a line of people dancing to traditional New Orleans music while waving handkerchiefs and following a leader with an umbrella. Originally performed  on the way back from a jazz funeral after the deceased has been interred and is meant as a celebration of the deceased’s life and their acceptance into the afterlife. Has developed into a New orleans celebration, seperate from the morbid beginnings and is synonomous with the city and celebrations in general.


“New Orleanians will use any excuse to throw a party, have a parade or have a ‘second line’, during a second line participants will dance  and sing to New Orleans tunes following a line that weaves throughout  the restaurant out onto the street, following a person with a second  line umbrella and waving handkerchiefs. New Orleanians will honor their deceased musicians by throwing them a jazz funeral, that includes a second line.”

Collectors Commentary: The word second line itself, some from a decription of people returning to their homes after a funeral, it is the “second line” that forms as they begin to sing and dance and play music in celebration of the deceased. Now, the religious tones of the tradition have been reduced and second lines are not strictly limited to occuring after funerals, but have instead developed into a celebration and tradition associated with the city and the culture of Jazz and celebration. The slang word is used in speach as a thing synonomous with the culture of the city an is unique as folk speach because it does not exist elsewhere.

Key words: New Orleans, second Line, jazz funeral, handkerchiefs, umbrellas, celebration, dance


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