Festigals is a weekend gathering of women for networking, education, fundraising and New Orleanian fun. Their STEP UP to stop domestic violence parade (formerly the Stiletto Stroll) is the city’s largest women’s second-line parade. Festigals was my first parade as a Pussyfooter making this my 6th time participating. Our non-profit organization of over 100 women over 30 was one of dozens of dance troupes and walking krewes that helped raise money for New Orleans Family Justice Center.
Despite the sun heading for the horizon, it was 88 and sticky. We gathered in front of the pre-party at Carl Mack’s Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes & Culture. It’s always fun to see the different clumps of color created by krewe members finding each other in the morass of Wonder Women, mermaids and pirates. Before we line us, the groups mix as old friends cross paths. Most of the dance krewes parade together during Mardi Gras, but that was months ago, seasons ago.
Even with the humid heat, I always look forward to the Festigals parade. It marks my anniversary of becoming a proud Pussyfooter and gives us an opportunity to raise domestic violence awareness and donations. But over the years, I’ve come to enjoy Festigals’ timing. Mardi Gras dancers have a rhythm to their schedule. For Pussyfooters, we start practicing and spending a lot of time together in the fall. By year’s end, we’ve been practicing for months and have danced in Krewe of Boo and Krewe of Jingle. We’ve gotten together for fittings, meetings, new member meet-and-greets and more.
By Mardi Gras (sometime between late January and early March), we’ve organized, gathered the items for, and executed Blush Ball – our annual fundraising party with live music, a DJ and dance performances, a raffle and silent auction raising around $30,000/year for victims of domestic abuse. We’ve practiced even more and have done parade alignment practice as well. We’ve danced in up to 5 Carnival parades – which means spending around 8 hours together per parade. We’ve volunteered in dozens of non-profit and cultural events. And many of us meet up before to get ready and have some cocktails, or after these activities to eat or imbibe.
Then Carnival season ends and so do the practices and parades. We still do events, but each member only has to participate in 4 per year so if you don’t do another event until June, you might go 4 months without seeing these people you learned dances with and threw a giant fundraiser with for half the year.
So now I look forward to Festigals because it’s like a reunion party for those of us who’ve gone too long without an excuse to don our pink wigs, tighten our corsets and strap on our combat boots to delight a crowd. Festigals promotes sisterhood. Parading through the French Quarter and past the crowds on Canal, it felt good to be part of the embodiment of that message.
Enjoys photos of Wonder Woman, Dames de Perlage, Sirens, Mande Milkshakers, Dancing Man 504, Pussyfooters, Streetcar Strutters, Femme Fatale, Nyxettes, Amelia Earhawts and more.