My family spent Christmas break in New Orleans. We were in the French Quarter on New Year’s Eve. We’d just dined at Mr. B’s, wandering among the daiquiri-clutching revelers competing for Mardi Gras beads along Bourbon Street when we ran into one of our favorite street dancers. His face was covered in metallic gold paint matching a metallic outfit and mechanical robot dance moves. He has a small battery-powered speakers blasting popular radio hits. He accepted small donations from the crowd of tourists.
A nice crowd had surrounded him to watch his performance. He was in the middle of an industrial interpretation of Sai’s “Gangnam Style” when he was rudely interrupted by a pack of New Orleans police officers who ordered him to move because he did not have a license.
When the crowd started to “BOO” the police, the dancer cut them off. “They are just doing their jobs,” he cautioned, diffusing the situation but leaving more than a few of us still miffed at the police. As my daughter remarked the next morning: “They really know how to mess up a good time.”
I made parallels to the crackdown on indigenous culture in Washington, D.C. last last year in a 2012 essay about the war on New Orleans street performance art, “Are Gentrified Cities Too Greedy?”
I quote a Nola radio call in listener who called into a show on which I was a live guest last summer. The caller was furious about the police crackdown. “They want to turn this place into a big ole Disney Land,” he thundered. ” They can’t do that. That’s our blood that spilled on Congo Square!”
I am still trying to find a name for this talented street dancer from NYE 2012. But I was able to find this youtube video below, you can see him performing another date and time but also it looks like he’s in the French Quarter)