(pictured: Wildman John of the Wild Tchoupitoulas
Gert Town Surprise
by Stuart McNair
This past Sunday evening here in New Orleans,
I went to visit a friend, a Mardi Gras Indian, up in
Gert Town, an African-American neighborhood
famous for producing great musicians like Allen
Toussaint and Ellis Marsalis. My friend and I
were sitting on his porch, and there was a
birthday party going on next door.
All of the sudden, a group of guys (late teens)
came down the street carrying horns and drums.
They got organized a block from the party,
and ripped into a groove. The big bass drum
was thundering through the neighborhood,
and people started exploding out of doorways.
They shimmeyed across their front porches,
down their stoops, and into the street. Soon
there were umbrellas in the air, children rolling
up on little bikes, and moms and dads
The young band marched in and set up shop on a
grassy spot between the two houses, and friends
and family surrounded them, taking turns in the
dancing spotlight. One man was dressed to the
nines in a suit with a handkerchief that he held in
one hand as he danced with extreme grace and skill.
The trumpets and trombone traded solos, while the
tuba, snare, and bass drum raged onward.
My friend went inside and put on a giant Indian
Head Dress that he had created for a past
Mardi Gras, and he leapt off of his porch and
danced in the street. Then he went and danced
with the children in the grass. He did two costume
changes, for a total of three full length Head Dresses.
I learned some new Second Line dance moves by
watching one lady gettin' down in the street.
I made a conscious decision to not pull out my
camera, trading a pic for a pure memory, and a
less intrusive presence. And another little story about
living in the moment in New Orleans, Louisiana.