Though this is my 7th year dancing with the Pussyfooters in parades, it’s my first time being a part of the Krewe of Carrollton’s festivities. The weather was perfect for my nearly 25,000 steps – 65, sunny and breezy. Parading is my favorite way to see the city. We take over a neighborhood to line up hours in advance. School bands fill side streets practicing songs, formations and showy moves. We hang out with Rolling Elvi, 610 Stompers, Disco Amigos and more – visiting and hydrating…
Finally, floats roll past and the designated school bands and dance krewes fall into place behind. Pulling out of the generous neighborhood, we roll down two-lane Magazine Street, lined with locals. People scream our names, wave, jump out to hug a parading family member. By the time we hit St. Charles with its wide neutral ground, the crowds have swelled with Spring-breakers and people coming in from Baton Rouge, the North Shore, Metairie, the West Bank and wherever.
I love the intimacy of the first stretch of the parades but there’s something deeply satisfying about knowing that we’re stepping that same grand Avenue that has hosted parades since the 1850’s. It makes me feel that I am contributing to the experience people came to have as well as carrying on a tradition I value. Parades are expensive and require commitment and time. The riders pay for every bead and float, every cop and barrier, every band, dancer and trash team. As a Pussyfooter, I’m required to pay dues, attend practices, learn dances, work service hours for our non-profit organization, participate in events throughout the city and more. Though we have slow periods, it’s a year-round commitment. And it’s a privilege. Hearing the cheering and seeing the smiles we inspire is fuel for the miles.
Toward the end we finally hit Canal St., the version of Mardi Gras usually represented in movies. Dancers and bands have to spread out to accommodate the far-wider street. The crowds are held back by barriers and odds are lower that we know people in the crowd thick with tourists. It’s energizing in a different way as we strive to represent our culture well and put on a good show.
It’s true that the hours of non-stop crowd-pleasing activity in problematic uniforms takes a toll. But there really is no other thing that feels like strutting with the Pussyfooters’ pink army of women over-30, carrying on a tradition as old as the Baby Dolls of Storyville who crashed Carnival near the turn of the century. That’s why I’ll be doing it again for Thursday’s Krewe of Muses and Sunday’s Krewe of Thoth parades. I would’ve loved to stay and watch Krewe of Alla, but I live to parade another day.