The Pussyfooters are a New Orleans dance troupe of over 100 women over-30 who perform in parades, second lines and events. Dressed in head to toe pink and orange, they are, “Majorettes from the Mothership sent here to help the party people get their groove on.” Founded in 2001, they promote the values of service and empowerment. The group just added several new members and one of them is me! I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to blog about parades when I’m not on the sidelines recording them as they pass, but I do feel I’m entering a whole new level of being a local.
I’ve been blogging about the Pussyfooters for years, usually including photos and videos. I first met many of the Pussyfooters at the Greasing of the Poles at the Royal Sonesta kicking off the last (5-day) weekend of Mardi Gras. My sponsor is actually the woman who so handily beat me in the pole greasing contest. Maybe next year we can have a rematch. As I was walking out to the pole greasing stage on Bourbon Street, one of the women suggested that I should try to be a Pussyfooter. It was like a pink lightbulb went off in my head.
This weekend, between Gay Pride, Festigals “Stiletto Stroll” and some weddings – there were second lines all over the French Quarter. Normally, I’d grab my camera, find a good spot on the street and enjoy the passing festivities with the rest of the crowd. This time, the cameras pointed at the Pussyfooters were also pointed at me. Despite the fact that I make my living in front of cameras, I’m not used to so many people looking right at me while I’m looking at them. It was a little unnerving.
With the exception of my white Doc Martens boots, I haven’t gotten my official uniform yet and my wig was borrowed from my generous sponsor, Mandy Brown. But I went on a Pretty Woman-like shopping spree and loaded up on fun pink jewelry from So Good and pink fishnets and a fabulous pink “hat” from QT Pie. It wasn’t until I laid them all out on the floor that I realized how much fun I’m going to have embracing the pink in me. The accessories are all fantasy-like Barbie-toned confections that I would have coveted even as a toddler. But, they’re all the type of thing I’ve always been too practical to purchase or even ask for as a gift.
Now, I am beginning my collection of fun, feminine orange and pink costumes. I am thrilled to be meeting over 100 of New Orleans’ finest women. I’m beyond excited to be parading through the streets of New Orleans, especially knowing how excited I would get when I’d see those pink ladies parading toward us. I can’t even believe I get to be in Mardi Gras parades. And I’m gratified to know that I’m part of a non-profit benefitting women in need all over the world. But the thing I hadn’t counted on is how much joy I’d get from getting a sparkly pink rose necklace. If I’d known how much it would delight me, maybe I’d have let go of being practical a long time ago. Lucky for me, I now know the answer to, “But where would I wear it?”
I only knew a couple of Pussyfooters and I didn’t find any of them for some time. I walked up to a group of women wearing the official uniform and felt like when I used to be the new girl in school knowing my clothes weren’t the “right” labels. Standing there in my makeshift uniform with first day jitters, women almost immediately interrupted their own conversations to ask if I was new and introduce themselves. I can’t remember most of the names and I won’t recognize most of them at the grocery, but they made me feel very welcome. And everyone loved my sparkly pink rose necklace as much as I did.
We paraded through the streets of the Quarter behind the 2013 Grand Diva Lydia Benson, a cancer survivor and a former Pussyfooters president. DancingMan504 joined our ranks and was delighted to find he and I would be dancing the streets together now. As we waved to people on balconies and handed out beads to children, at least a dozen women told me that being a Pussyfooter is the most fun they’ve ever had. I can’t wait to find out all the reasons they feel that way.
I’m grateful to the Pussyfooters for inviting me into their fold and letting me be a part of the joy I know they bring to New Orleanians. I’m also grateful to have reconnected to the girl in me who always understood the power of pink.