ABSTRACT

Each year, on the Sunday afternoon of Labour Day weekend, thousands of people fill St. Claude Avenue in the Seventh Ward neighbourhood of New Orleans, usually waiting under a hot sun for a parade to begin. Inside Sweet Lorraine’s nightclub, the members of a club called Black Men of Labor (BMOL) make their final preparations, putting on their brimmed hats, dress shirts stitched from imported West African fabric, suspenders, pleated trousers and leather dancing shoes (Figure 5.1). Directly outside the door, twenty or so brass band musicians warm up behind a police barricade, waiting for their cue to begin the up-tempo spiritual ‘Over in Gloryland’.1 At this point, the club members will exit Sweet Lorraine’s one-by-one, strutting their dance moves for the cheering crowd. BMOL then leads the procession through the backstreets of the adjacent Tremé neighbourhood, onto the Claiborne Avenue thoroughfare, and out into the Sixth and Seventh Ward neighbourhoods where many of the members live, making stops at bars and other significant local landmarks before looping back to Sweet Lorraine’s.