Carnival season is days away and the city is bustling in preparation. Bunting, wreaths and decorations in purple, green and gold are going up on homes and stores. The potholes on St. Charles are being filled to make ready for floats to roll. Krewes are meeting to discuss upcoming parades and balls. Bands and dance troupes are practicing in parks and fields. Bleachers are being constructed and barricades are piling up on corners along the route.
Every year, I’ve used this time to redecorate my Christmas tree and wreath and bead my fence. This year, I have a much longer list because this year – I’m in 3 of the parades! I will be dancing with the Pussyfooters in Muses and Thoth then I will be riding in Quentin Tarantino’s float in Orpheus – wearing my Pussyfooter uniform (a decision that required approval from 2 boards).
I’m thrilled Quentin will be an Orpheus Monarch and I couldn’t be more proud of the 4 times we’ve worked together. That said, the idea of wearing a ball gown like a Hollywood starlett during my first time riding a Mardi Gras float seemed off somehow. I had planned to dance with the Pussyfooters for Orpheus and I’m so proud to be a New Orleanian, it just feels right to be representing our city by wearing my parade uniform. Throughout the city right now people are sewing finishing touches on costumes and practicing dance steps in their living rooms. This year, I get to be one of them. I’ve never felt more a part of this place.
Another tradition leading up to Carnival are the many parties and balls. The 610 Stompers dance troupe celebrated their 5 year anniversary with a “Six Ten Candles” theme. The event was held at the Sugar Mill, an indoor/outdoor facility with plenty of room to party. Proceeds benefitted the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans.
The 80’s dress code brought everything from Miami Vice casual suits and pastel preppies to hair band guys and leg-warmerred girls. I broke out my vast collection of O-ring bracelets and a teasing comb for the occasion. I found plenty of Pussyfooters in the crowd as well as Bearded Oysters and the city’s newest dance troupe, the Oui Dats.
There was a ton of food to choose from at stations throughout the room. Despite the many offerings from places like Susan Spiser’s Mondo, I went straight for the pulled pork over cheese grits from Squeal. A D.J. spun 80’s tunes then Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes with John “Papa” Gros played but we’d pooped out by then. Mardi Gras is a marathon, not a sprint, and I’ve already started conserving my energy.
For details on over 50 upcoming parades as well as answers to the 25 most frequently asked questions, check out the bible on all things Carnival, Arthur Hardy’s Mardi Gras Guide. For over 30 years, the Guide has served as a program for the season so I couldn’t have been more thrilled when I saw, among the history of the Krewes and maps of routes, a photo of me at last year’s Greasing of the Poles (page 119). When I moved here from L.A. in 2009, I hoped I’d find my place in New Orleans culture but I never dreamed I would get to be any part of Mardi Gras. I can’t wait to blog from the front lines.