Certain cultural artifacts help to define the customs of a community — language, painting, cooking, song, and dance. But of all these emblems, music is perhaps the most accessible. An artform that bypasses physical boundary and communicates through sound. They say the best way to get familiar with a culture is to immerse yourself in it. And there is perhaps no more immersive cultural experience than diving headlong into a distinctive musical tradition. In anticipation of the Curb Scholars’ trip to New Orleans next month, I decided to leap into the culture of The Big Easy by taking in the hip-shaking rhythms of  Big Freedia, Queen of the New Orleans’s Bounce scene. Bounce draws both its name and its rhythmic emphasis from a focus on dance set to up-tempo, bass-heavy music that incorporates elements of call and response which has come to be associated with New Orleans’ queer communities. In the crowd at the Cannery Ballroom, where Big Freedia and her team played the final set of their tour, the pull of the beat was evident in the thigh-rock and hip-sway of the audience, a sea of disparate bodies bound together by the percussive repetition of the bass. Bounce has a way of moving you out from the distinct housing of your body into the communal tenement of the crowd. Caught up in the churn of the groove and twerk and dip of Freeida’s dance crew I found myself seduced onto the stage to drop-it-low in front of the audience, transformed into some larger, brassier version of myself freed by that inexorable New Orleans beat.

Written by Joshua Moore
Posted on September 13, 2019