Judy Cooper


Judy Cooper is a photographer and writer living and working in New Orleans, Louisiana. She taught at the college level before becoming a professional photographer. Cooper became interested in photographing the social aid and pleasure clubs in the late 1990s and eventually envisioned a book that would celebrate the traditions’ history, pageantry, and community. She reached out to other photographers and writers to complement her work. Dancing in the Streets is the result.



11:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Capitol Park Event Center, Glass Room
Book Talk
Dancing in the Streets: Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs of New Orleans

Noon to 12:45 a.m.
Cavalier House Booksellers Tent
Book Signing

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

The “greatest real-life free show on earth.” “Church for dancers.” “Four hours of therapy.” These are but a few ways people have described the unmistakable spectacle and energy of second line parades. Put on by New Orleans’s network of social aid and pleasure clubs, the parades have become part of the lifeblood of the city, providing a physical and symbolic gathering place for Black history and expression.

Dancing in the Streets combines archival photography with the work of 10 contemporary second line photographers to present a comprehensive survey of every social aid and pleasure club on the scene today. Essays explore the evolution of the parades from their roots in post–Civil War Black mutual aid societies; their ties to Black performance practices in Congo Square; the artistry and style of the clubs’ suits and regalia; and the brass bands and dance forms that bring the parades to life.

An epilogue presents club leaders in conversation about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the social aid and pleasure club community. This timely addition works in concert with the historical material and images to depict a powerful tradition forged from hardship and creativity, one that shows no sign of stopping.

Distributed for the Historic New Orleans Collection


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