After we left Silky’s, we had a brief unscheduled stop about a block away in front of a boarded-up building, the purpose of which I never figured out, but the Stooges Brass Band kept playing all the way through it, and soon we were on our way again, to the corner of 7th and Dryades, where I learned that the old Joe’s House of Blues has become Pop’s House of Blues, and is apparently under new ownership. An older man had set a lawn chair directly on the point of the club’s roof, and was sitting up there in the sun. When we arrived, he got out of his chair and began dancing right where he was up on the roof.
It probably doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but the more exuberant second-liners still end up on the roofs of buildings, as a good place to dance and perhaps to also be noticed by the crowd, as two young men did at the intersection where Silky’s bar was, one of the scheduled stops on the second-line. One of the men scaled a fence and ended up on the roof of a small garage behind a residence, where he wowed the crowd with his moves, before proudly yelling to us all that he represented the CTC (Cross The Canal) Lower 9th Ward. A girl near me said “That boy reppin’ by himself, way uptown here”, and her friend replied, “You gotta respect it.”
From the S & S Club, our parade worked its way down sidestreets to a club called Silky’s, where the largest crowd of the afternoon so far was gathered, and also where some of the most exuberant dancing broke out.
Like most second-lines, the Lady Jetsetters’ parade picked up a lot more people as it made its way down Martin Luther King to a scheduled stop at the S & S Club, where another hundred or so people were gathered.
Each week on Friday night, Rara Lakay leads a rara prcoession through the streets of Little Haiti in Miami. The band of tin horns and drums attracts a large crowd of marchers/dancers that follow the band along the parade route. In Haiti, such processions occur during Lent, from Ash Wednesday until Easter.
Rara Lakay leads a rara procession through the residential streets of Little Haiti on each Friday night, beginning from the murals on the wall at the corner of NE 2nd Avenue and NE 60th Street. The processions pick up participants as they go, eventually returning to the spot where they began.
The start of the Friday night rara procession on the week that I was in Miami was delayed because of the Miami Heat’s playoff game, and so the procession really didn’t get underway until around 9:30. Led by the musicians, it picked up participants as it proceeded through the residential streets of Little Haiti. Some of the more enthusiastic dancers ran a block ahead of the musicians to do dance poses low to the ground. People came outside on their porches and gathered along the sidewalks in some areas, and the whole scene became very familiar to me (aside from it being night), for this was very much like a New Orleans second-line. Even the vendors and food trucks that pulled up along the route were exactly like what one would have seen in New Orleans. Actually I shouldn’t have been surprised, since the Haitian Revolution of 1804 brought a number of French loyalists to New Orleans from Haiti, and also since many of the Africans brought to Louisiana were from the same regions of West Africa as those brought to Haiti. The rara bands share some aspects of the second-line tradition, such as using horns as well as drums, and leading the processions in which dancers and celebrants parade behind. But the raras also have points in common with Mardi Gras Indian practices, including the importance of drums and percussion, and also (at least in Haiti) the ritualized confrontations between different rara bands when they meet in the streets.
By the time we crossed over North Miami Avenue, we had assembled a fairly good-sized crowd, but my friend Jackson stated that the crowd was much smaller than average due to the ball game. Suddenly, all too soon, we arrived back at the corner of Northeast 2nd and 60th Street where it had all begun. I had not eaten since about 4 PM, so as everyone started to go their separate ways, I started trying to find a restaurant that wasn’t already closed, as it was almost 11 PM.