Space, Entitlement and Spectacle at New Orleans Jazzfest

by Nick Skilton, Peta Wolifson & Shaun McKiernan

(Enjoying slushies earlier in the day before things got crazily crazy.)

(Enjoying slushies earlier in the day before things got crazily crazy.)

Last year, three geography postgraduate students attended a music festival in the birthplace of jazz. This is what they found…

A Summary of the Day: Nick and Shaun

The Jazz and Heritage Festival is a big deal in New Orleans (NOLA). I don’t think we realised how big a deal until we were submerged in a sea of sweat, smuggled spirits, and sound. But we’ll get to that. ‘NOLA Jazzfest’ as it commonly known has grown from its humble beginnings in 1970 when 350 people attended. On that day, Duke Ellington, The Preservation Hall Band, Fats Domino, and Mahalia Jackson (who was not booked, but simply heard about the Festival and showed up to sing), plus many others performed. In 2015, 460,000 punters turned up over the 10 days (2 weekends with the week in between), the largest attendance since Hurricane Katrina. Miserable weather on the first weekend however saw to it that the second weekend accommodated the bulk of that number but random locals we encountered in the following days claimed (since the organisers now no longer release daily attendance figures) that the Saturday that we attended may have rivalled the 2001 single day record of 160,000 attendees when Dave Matthews Band and Mystikal performed during the peak of their powers. Anyway, you get the picture. It was packed.

(It looks small but it’s really not. However, still not big enough for Saturday’s crowd.)

(It looks small but it’s really not. However, still not big enough for Saturday’s crowd.)

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