Southern Decadence is a 5-day weekend of costumes, revelry and parades celebrating the LGBT community that brings over 150,000 people and a nearly $200 million economic impact. Decadence started at a party of friends and roommates throwing a going-away party for a friend in 1972 in their inauspicious Treme home nicknamed Belle Reve after the Mississippi plantation Blanche DuBois’ refers to in A Streetcar Named Desire so the roommates (including gays, straights, blacks and whites) made the send-off a costume party with the theme of coming as your favorite “Southern Decadent.” They chose the Sunday before Labor Day to give themselves a day of recovery afterward then repeated the party the following year with an informal parade. Over 40 years later, the all-inclusive party is bigger and more decadent than ever.
There are contests and concerts but the Sunday parade is my favorite part. This year’s theme was “Under the Big Top – Welcome to the Gayest Show on Earth.” Grand Marshals Aubrey Synclaire, Chad Boutte and Reba Douglas donned the theme colors of canary yellow, turquoise and pearl white to lead the way and represent for this year’s designated charity, PFLAG New Orleans.
It was a super hot day which made it a little easier to sit this parade out as I watched my sister Pussyfooters pass. Other dance troupes included Organ Grinders, Disco Amigos, Roux La La and a couple of NOLA Cherry Bombs along with second line dance favorites DancingMan504 and Jennifer Jones. There were groups representing NO/AIDS Walk and the LGBT Community Center of New Orleans as well as Mystic Krewe Lords of Leather, Krewe de Amis, Krewe of the Rolling Elvi, Krewe of Kolossos and Psychedelic Wigglers.
Last year’s favorite “Million Mrs. Roper March” seemed to have repurposed their wigs for the hilarious “Richard Simmons Rampage.” The parade finished up with the colorful Pair-A-Dice Tumblers marching band followed, as always, with the anti-gay (anti-Catholic, anti-tolerance, anti-fun) group I’ve now dubbed, “krewe of haters.” Not to be party-pooped, a few leather-clad men (one with his behind exposed) brought up the “rear.” Maybe the parade is not for everyone, but it’s always fun and one of my favorites of the year.
Enjoy the photos (worth thousands of words) including a few from the Friday night parade floats and the return of Ashley the Traffic Tranny. Apologies for not being able to label them all.