Thursday, February 07, 2013

Mardi Gras Madness - Part 3 - First Weekend of Parades with the Pussyfooters

Here comes the girls!
Technically, Mardi Gras is the last day of Carnival but we use the terms interchangeably. Carnival starts on 12th Night, January 5. The Phoney Phorty Phellows take a streetcar ride, throwing beads and what not to those that come out to see them. I was meeting a friend on the Avenue and was running late, so I missed the first pass and almost missed the second pass. There are parties this night as well as the Krewe of Joan of Arc that marches through the Quarter.

Me, mid-step-turn.
In New Orleans, the majority of parades start 2 weeks prior to Mardi Gras day. I'm in the Pussyfooters, a woman's dance group, and we were invited to perform in two parade the first weekend, Krewe of Cleopatra and Krewe of King Arthur. Both parades are about 5 miles long and took about 3 hours to complete. That's a lot of dancing and marching! But it is so much fun, and it's always a thrill to spy someone you know along the route. What was fun about these two parade is the first one was at night, the second the day, each a different experience. The night parades are more of a blur because you can't see, but even in the daylight, you aren't always sure where you are. The crowds blank out the landmarks and cross streets. It's fun to be able to see the people in the crowd and interact with them.

Here's a bunch of photos on Flickr from the King Arthur parade. We glow in the daylight!
Here's a video of us performing one of our dances in the same parade.
Here's a video of us from the Krewe of Cleopatra parade.

It's such an overload of senses. We have our own music - this year with a live DJ! - then there's the yelling and crowds noises, music from other groups and marching bands. We use hand motions and whistles (you'll hear them in the videos) to alert everyone about an upcoming dance. Sometimes you miss both until you realize everyone around you is dancing so you just jump right in. Like I said earlier, visually it can be a complete blur, but then you spy someone in the crowd you know and they just pop out at you. That's usually when I mess up. LOL And then there's the smells. There are horses and mules in the parade -ugh- but you also catch whiffs of fried chicken, BBQ and boiling crawfish along the route as well. Yum!

St. Charles Avenue in the Lower Garden District.

In front of Gallier Hall downtown. I'm the one in the pink wig. ;-)

Canal Street.

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