‘I want culture back but I want people safe’ local culture bearers work to bring second lines back safely amid pandemic

As the city loosens more restrictions and local festivals set tentative dates for fall, second lines and block parties in New Orleans are still considered off limits.

Leaders from The Social Aide and Pleasure Club met with city officials Saturday regarding questions on the upcoming second line season, while sharing ways to safely continue the tradition as we come out of recovery.

Norman Dixon Jr., the President of Young Men Olympians Benevolent Association, said,
“I want the culture back, but I want people to be safe.”

The association was organized back in 1884.

Since COVID, the social club has been silent. When it comes to going forward with second lines amid the pandemic Dixon said, “From what we were told. What will play a big role in it, is the percentage of people who receive the shots.”

The city said, “Second lines are an important part of our culture, but safety comes first.”

That means achieving herd immunity. The city wants at least 75% of New Orleans vaccinated. We currently stand at about 42%. Even less than that percentage is completely vaccinated.

Dixon said he misses all the fun and the footwork, but he knows what the virus can do to a family. His brother died just months ago of COVID-19.

“That is something too many people had to go through. Saying bye to loved ones. It is strange because you do not get to see them until they pass,” said Dixon.

The second line season typically ‘buckjumps’ in August, but remains on hold.

“When that band strikes out I do not care where I am at. I do not even think about it. I am with the band. I am rolling. That is what I do,” said Dixon. “People who love the culture follow the second line wherever it goes. And the thing with this is you have to start somewhere.”

Dixon said another thought on the table is coming up with one route in a specific spot in the city for second lines, where there is enough space to accommodate a big crowd and still socially distance.

Stay with WDSU for updates on this developing story.

READ MORE:‘I want culture back but I want people safe’ local culture bearers work to bring second lines back safely amid pandemic

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