Photos by Mel D. Cole for Villageslum and Okayplayer
“New Orleans is a zone where you step outside of the rest of America,” says Rusty Lazer, AKA Jay Pennington, one of the creative masterminds behind the Rally Under the Bridge. “I’m so proud of these cars…” he says, surveying some of the homemade creations. “If it weren’t for today and our crazy NOLA culture, they wouldn’t exist.”
The dusty grounds under the Ninth Ward Bridge on N. Robinson Street are a part of New Orleans even many locals rarely see. Last Sunday folks cruising above on the freeway must have wondered what was going on down there – a mad extravaganza of Only-In-Nola creativity, curated by Delany Martin in conjunction with local arts group New Orleans Airlift and reaching 31,000 Square Feet of Microsoft’s One Million Square Feet of Culture project (or 1MSQFT for short–the vast survey of culture that the geniuses at Windows have unleashed on the world, creating a series of spaces for dance, visual art, food, film, music and fashion to collide creatively within, all towards the ultimate goal of rolling out the titular one million square feet of culture) .
Twirling that baton like it was a new plastic playmate, Bounce’s own Katey Red led her high-stepping majorettes, the Terror Squad, alternating with the smooth-moving Prancing Elites. Inside the fabulous warehouse, performance artist Sohlid Gold jerked in front of his golden wall of ancient boomboxes–sprayed gold like the treasure he is–while outside, the mighty Lil Man DJ’d and the event was silkily and tenderly MC’d by Voguing maestro, Jack Mizrahi. The afternoon rocketed by in a dragon’sbreath blaze of unpredictable, underground urban art, New Orleans-style.
Be transported by the transport, say our NoLa tricksters, who take every mobility device around and wildify them ’til they’re out of this world. There were hotrods with proper names like Tropical Fantasy, which had its side replaced by a safety grille. Or the wheels that could eat you right up, looking like a roaring dinosaur. In this Rally, nothing – and everything – was real, from the mini-bikes disguised as plush cuddly toys, called NoLaPets, to the tricked-out skeleton cars, out-treating Hallowe’en. Wearing dashikis and Mali hats, the Buffalo Soldiers Riding Club bounced, crouching on the backs of their magnificent steeds – and till you’ve seen two tattooed Nola-ettes make a muscle car shake with their double-tag-bounce, you won’t know the meaning of the words Nola Bounce.
Like the Head of Security, Kenneth Talley, said, “This is the way New Orleans embraces creativity. Punks, thugs, motorbike guys” (and girlyboy majorettes,) “this event brings everyone together and we all co-exist.”
Leave it to the inimitable rapper/producer/pope of New Orleans Mannie Fresh to sum it up: “New Orleans is always crazy fresh abundance, a gumbo, a bunch of ingredients like these bikes, cars, horses and people. But then, living here you always see something out of the ordinary. There’s no script.” Or as Talley put it more succinctly:
“isn’t every town like this?”