Originally, the Second Line formed organically behind a band playing music for a funeral or other celebration. As the band, or the “main line” passed by, people joined in and followed the music forming the “second line.” Social Clubs formed after the civil war when the newly emancipated slaves found that insurance companies refused to insure them. In response, neighborhood social clubs formed where dues paying members benefited from the group resources in the form of insurance against sickness, fire and theft and other unexpected events. Additionally the social clubs would hire bands for funerals that would play somber dirges on the way to the cemetery and then play more festive songs on the way back, celebrating the life of the person that was just buried.
These clubs morphed into what is now called “Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs” and their function is no longer as it was when they started in the late 1800’s—although they do still serve to the inner-city population as a sort of emergency relief resource. In addition to the Sunday second line parades, they deliver groceries to the needy, help local sports clubs, and still extend some help those who are facing unexpected expenses. As shown in this essay, each Sunday they hire a band to march along a pre-determined route to lead the Second Line celebration.
This is an ongoing project.