If you’re a regular reader of this blog, by now you know that I proudly dance with the Pussyfooters in parades throughout the year. Krewe of Thoth may be the longest route, but between the usually fabulous weather and the many delightful children that attend, it’s one of my favorite to parade in. I gave some behind-the-scenes information in my post on Pussyfooting in Krewe of Muses but here’s some answers to some frequently asked questions about parading.
It usually takes between 1 1/2 hours and 3 hours to watch a parade go by. For the riders, bands, dancers and other entertainers, it takes quite a bit longer to make the 8-ish mile journey (miles vary depending on the parade route and Thoth is far longer). We join the parade line-up at least an hour or 2 in advance. When it’s cold or raining, etc., just standing around can be the toughest hours. Parades often begin late, especially if you’re not first in the day’s line-up for the route. Thoth was scheduled to start at noon and finished for our group around 5pm. Each group does it differently but the Pussyfooters danced for 4 songs then danced “freestyle” for 1 – and we dance whether the parade is moving forward or not.
Parades roll rain or shine unless there’s lightning or some other dangerous weather element. We all have tricks for getting through bad weather but on those cold nights dancing in Muses, I rely on a Thermacare heat patch under my corset. Some groups only parade for Carnival, others (including the Pussyfooters) do events all year and serve as helping hands and entertainers for community non-profits.
We practice a lot. We have parade dance practices available all week every week starting in October. You must attend at least 12. There are also marching practices to help with formation, spacing and making turns. And there are specialty dance practices for our “performance dances,” usually debuted at our annual Blush Ball.
Yes, we can jump out and hug a friend if the stars align and I was thrilled to get hugs from many of mine during Thoth including John Schneider, who played my husband in the upcoming Hate Crime, and Alicia Allain who served as producer on the film.
The biggest question women ask about the Pussyfooters is how to join. Many of the dance troupes hold auditions, usually during late summer. The Pussyfooters use a lottery system instead. Once we determine how many spaces we’ll have available, each member in “good standing” (has met all practice, parade, monetary and service hour requirements) is allowed to nominate one new “kitten” over the age of 30. The names are put in a lottery to fill the available spaces. The year after I joined, there were no slots available. This year, we added about 20 new members.
Parading is a labor of love that tests commitment and physical limits. It’s also the most extraordinary way to see the city, to meet wonderful people who agree with you about what’s fun and to experience Mardi Gras from the inside out.