On our parade day, it is amazing to see all the people lined up on the side of the streets. It’s hard to describe the feeling, but it’s a hell of an adrenaline rush coming out the door. On the side, everybody’s lining up, pumping you up.

In the beginning, I was a spectator. I fell in love with the music and the dancing. I think it’s spiritual, and if you got the rhythm, you just go with how you feel. Some of the moves I do I can’t keep up with it myself. I be like, “Damn, I done did that?!” Can’t go back and do it again. You never see the same thing with me. I wind up being the master.

My main influences were Joseph “Joe Black” Baker, the founder of Revolution, and Raymond Williams, Raphael Parker, and Louis Pierre and his mama, Evella “Ms. Coochie” Pierre, of Nine Times. When they started the club, I watched them from the sideline, thinking, “I wish I could do that.” 

Raphael Parker
Raphael Parker; 2014; by and courtesy of Pableaux Johnson


The guys kept asking me, “When you gonna come on, man?” Three years after they started, I joined Nine Times. The club was still new. Our parade is the only day I take off from work. For years, I worked in the French Quarters, so I’d have to lie about being sick.

We all grew up in the Ninth Ward, and Nine Times stands for the neighborhood. We’re brothers of the Ninth Ward when we parade. The whole Ninth Ward. We try to implement our club the way Desire was implemented: family first, friends, laughter and happiness. In the 1970s, Desire residents came and fought for the Black Panthers when the police was trying to run them out, and all they did was help the community. 

Nine Times honors the Black Panthers<
Nine Times honors the Black Panthers; 2016; by and courtesy of Charles Muir Lovell


We also used to have the Desire Community Center where we used to have activities like dancing and boxing. In high school, I was part of a breakdancing group called Original Desire. We won twice on Showtime at the Apollo. Break dancing is on your feet, on your back, on your head. I incorporated some of it into in my second lining cause sometimes I do get on my head, but I’m getting a little too old for that now.

Nine Times hosts events throughout the year: a back-to-school supply drive for the children, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and an Easter Egg Hunt named after Louis Pierre, one of the founders of Nine Times, who was killed. Over the years, when we’ve given dances, there is barely any standing room. Our guests aren’t going to stand up and be bored, cause the club itself is going to keep you entertained. We gonna act a fool. I’m serving drinks, still trying to dance! We always try to give back to the Ninth Ward, and any other ward that needs help, we’ll pitch in. If you’ve seen our book, Coming Out the Door for the Ninth Ward (2006), you know I ain’t lying, because we got a lot of interviews with other social and pleasure clubs in our book who we welcomed to participate.

Our book was another turning point in my life. It was a blessing for us to write our story, and for thousands and thousands of people to really sit there and read it. We still get a lot of feedback. I still have kids come to me cause New Orleans Public Schools purchase a lot of books, and they put them in a lot of classes. Kids run up to me and some of the other club members, and tell us, “Thank y’all for sharing y’all’s life with us.”

Growing a Club

We parade on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We used to come out at Magee’s, a neighborhood juke joint on 3430 Louisa Street. Magee was an old country boy that God blessed with a building in Desire. But he grew to love the Desire, so it make you think he was from back there the way he treated everybody. No favor was too big or too small for Magee. We said, “Why not make that our club house?” The juke box was so loud, or the DJ was so loud, you couldn’t hear much, but we still had a meeting in the back room. The year before Katrina, Magee was our king, and he ended up passing away after the storm. For a few years, we came out of a building located next to the bar that was owned by Ms. Gail who didn’t want us to leave from around there. She was nice enough to allow us to do it. She passed away as well, and we’ve been coming out of Desire Ministry. 

Larry Wilson
Larry Wilson; 2009; by and courtesy of Leslie Parr


We’re known as an entertaining club. It’s not one of the clubs that just come out and look good and want to be seen. We really come out and enjoy ourselves, and the crowd enjoy themselves, too, cause when the club dance, the crowd dance. And when everybody’s dancing, we did our job.

After our book came out, we grew a lot. At one time, we got to forty members. Some of the older members didn’t like the direction we was going in, and they started the ? Mark Social and Pleasure Club, which parades with Dumaine Street Gang. We didn’t have a problem with that; we didn’t hold no one back. But whenever they decide to come back, the door is always open.

Right now, we have six divisions: the original men’s Nine Times, four ladies divisions, and a kids division. We got to do something for the kids; they are the future of Nine Times. It’s almost like half the city comes to the parade. We get some of the top-notch bands—for a couple of years, we had Rebirth. We’ve also hired the Hot 8, the Stooges, the Truth, the All-Star Brass Band. 

9th Ward Holiday
9th Ward Holiday; 2019; by and courtesy of MJ Mastrogiovanni


Nine Times parade
Nine Times parade; 2019; by MJ Mastrogiovanni


On parade day, I tell my club all the time, I’m not responsible for my actions. It’s fun being in the ropes, but sometimes our second line be so crowded, I have to get on the outside and do my side show. I feel I have to continue to be me, whether it’s in the ropes or outside the ropes. I really do get up high. I like climbing on stuff that don’t look safe. I’ve got to find a way to stop that cause I am getting up in age now! And the only time I can get up there is parade day. On any other day, I don’t have the strength. But on parade day, I’ll find the energy from somewhere. God’s helping me up cause I do get up on some high spots.

I have people of all ages that really like the way I dance. They come up and tell me, “Man, just seeing you dance make me feel good.” It touches me when the kids come up to me and ask me could I teach them, or, “Do you have a school?” And I tell them, “If my dancing make you smile, well, keep smiling cause I’m gonna keep dancing long as I got life in my body.” I’m never scared of the big lights or the small lights. 

Gerald Platenburg
Gerald Platenburg; 2019; by and courtesy of MJ Mastrogiovanni


Gerald Platenburg with second liner
Gerald Platenburg with second liner; 2019; by and courtesy of MJ Mastrogiovanni


I’ve noticed that some people on the sideline really study me. They might not know that I watch them, too. Over time, I can see how they take on my style. I don’t have a problem with cause I was once them, too. I wasn’t always a club member. I hung on the sideline and watched until I decide to get in. And I hope, sooner or later, they’ll get in that because I got to hand it down to somebody, like somebody handed it to me.

Interview conducted by Rachel Breunlin of the Neighborhood Story Project.