When I look at videos of myself dancing and I look at how my feet move and I look at the angles that they move in, I see the shapes and I imagine the degrees or the separations and what those different numbers add up to and what kind of frequencies they putting out into the world like, I can't believe my body is doing this. I can't believe my feet know how to do this.


The first stop on this journey to tune into the pulse of place has to start in New Orleans. So powerful and charismatic is it that the mere mention of it to almost anyone, anywhere, elicits a reaction – a look of wonder, excitement, energy. Yes, it is the seafood, the jazz, the Mississippi – but the idea of it carries a charge. What is that? To me it’s the ‘irrational’ swampland within which the city sits, low down, below sea level, acting like a bowl. It’s the darkness of its past in the trading of sugar, cotton, humans – and the emergence from that of a rich music, culture and vibration. There’s a thickness in the air here, an embodied, tactile feeling where the city gets on you and in you – where the streets are almost bouncy

And bubbling up from those streets is the high-voltage pulse that provides the life force for the whole city – it’s the second line. A Sunday parade, a rolling block party a barrelling procession of brass bands, social aid and pleasure clubs, friends, family, neighbours that courses through the city’s veins every week. It’s syncopated, polyrhythmic, exploding with funk, groove and glorious, soaring melodies. And for many Black New Orleanians it’s the day when you OWN the streets, so you better bring that FOOTWORK

There are a hundred different styles of footwork at the second line, but it’s Jarrad DeGruy who always gets me when I see her hit those streets like they’re damn trampolines! The levity, the spirit, the freedom! – but also the intent. Because when you tap in you see that it’s a party with a purpose, deeply connected to this place, these swamps, these streets, those who have been here, danced here, stamping out community, personality, frustrations, on the contours of these streets, week after week, come hell or high water. For Episode 1 I sat down with Jarrad to discover more about the relationship between her and the ground upon which she dances

Jarrad DeGruy – for giving me her time, spirit and new ideas while I visited her at her grandma’s house
Da Truth Brass Band – for messing up the streets at the second line so many weeks, and in particular for the week I put my recorder in the air for this episode
Ole & Nu Style Fellas Social Aid & Pleasure Club – for putting on the parade that I recorded at. The clubs pay big money to come out when they are the ones who should be getting paid to create all that feeling and value for the city
Everyone who took a minute to talk with me at the second line
My Name is Phlegm – for coining the mantra that ‘Everything You Love About New Orleans is Because of Black People’

Episode 1 is the most conventional format of the series in terms of interviewing one person about a subject. It begins on the streets and at the second line, with all its propulsive music and energy. Then it moves to Jarrad’s home where we get into a fairly free-flow conversation, with footwork and connection to the ground at the centre. Speaking with Jarrad is rich and powerful and lays out many of the themes and threads that the series goes on to tune into.