Dancing in the Streets: Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs of New Orleans

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For nearly a year, the streets of New Orleans have been empty. Second lines?social aid and pleasure club parades?have been put on hold by the pandemic, marking the longest continuous interruption in a tradition stretching back generations. With origins in Black mutual aid societies founded to support African Americans and Afro-Creoles at a time when they were denied many social services, the clubs and their parades have become one of the city?s defining cultural practices. Full of color and artistry, music and footwork, and friends and neighbors, the parades provide a weekly physical and symbolic gathering place for Black history and expression.0Dancing in the Streets brings together historical photographs and archival footage by Jules Cahn and Michael P. Smith from The Historic New Orleans Collection with contemporary objects collected by the late Sylvester Francis of the Backstreet Cultural Museum and by the late Ronald W. Lewis of the House of Dance and Feathers, as well as from individual club members. Parade regalia?from full suits to elaborate baskets and fans?gives viewers an up-close look at the unique artistry of second line parades.0This artistry is vividly on display in the work of 12 contemporary photographers included in the exhibition: Judy Cooper, Brad Edelman, L. J. Goldstein, Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee, Pableaux Johnson, Charles Muir Lovell, MJ Mastrogiovanni, Leslie Parr, Akasha Rabut, Vincent Simmons, J. R. Thomason, and Eric Waters. A companion audio guide, created in collaboration with the Neighborhood Story Project, features interviews with club members discussing the objects on display. The Collection is proud to present Dancing in the Streets as a love letter to the social aid and pleasure club community of New Orleans, until the day everyone can hit the streets again.00Exhibition: The Historic New Orleans Collection, New Orleans, USA (25.02-13.06.2021).

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