Jermaine Dupri: I had a motorcycle just for Freaknik, just so I could ride around in the streets. You wanted to be in it. I had to have a convertible during Freaknik. I wanted to be seen, but I wanted to see everybody at the same time. It was the beginning of “flexing,” in every kind of way. The birth of riding around with your system blasting, with TVs in your car. All of that stuff came from people wanting to be seen at Freaknik.
Ayanna Brown: The highlight of Freaknik was getting stuck in traffic. It was in traffic that music got louder; people started talking to one another, asking, “Where are you from?”
Doug Monroe The city finally came up with a way to frustrate the students to the point where they did not want to come back. You can’t just shut down the city because of the need to get places. Once they started managing it the way they did, it took away a lot of the fun of when it was a big crowd. A lot of people came for the stopping in traffic, partying, meeting people in the street.
I leave out the music and dancing and sex aspects; what I find curious is the focus on the streets. When our team was helping with Katrina relief in New Orleans, I noticed that in our neighborhood the sidewalks weren't in great shape (OK, neither were the streets), and there typically wasn't a lot of traffic. There wasn't a lot of downside to walking in the street. I don't know about inner city Chicago (just north of Humbolt park for a couple of months 38 years ago), but most of the few vehicles that rolled the streets in N.O. were small trucks, a taxi or two, and the police--none of them probably felt as being part of the community.
On a smaller scale I see the same sort of thing around here (suburb-like): when the sidewalks are shoveled 9 times out of 10 any people walking in the streets are black. Do streets have some different cultural meaning?