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Popular Dances of Congo Square, New Orleans

Congo Square is a public space in New Orleans situated within what is now the Louis Armstrong Park Complex on North Rampart Street. It was one of several locations where enslaved Africans congregated for recreational purposes from the earliest days of the city until 1817, when a city ordinance designated it as their only permitted gathering place. On Sunday afternoons, African descendants, enslaved as well as free, gathered there by the hundreds, some report thousands, discontinuously until the 1850s.

The dances that characterized those assemblies resembled those found in parts of West and Central Africa as well as the French and Spanish West Indies, particularly Haiti and Cuba, where many of the gatherers had been born or had resided before slaveholders brought them to ...

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