Mardi Gras Round Up 2016 Part I

Mardi Gras has passed us by once again, but I enjoyed the numerous parades that prove that the Gods are alive and well in New Orleans!

Krewe of Oshun…

Oshun is the Loa of love, sexuality, water and fertility. She is a powerful female presence. The first year I lived in NOLA, I wasn’t overly impressed with this parade. Five years later, this krewe has come a long way! This year they put on a beautiful parade that ended up being one of my favorites.

Their parade was dominated by “goddesses,” beautifully be-feathered and be-jeweled ladies that represented tranquility, love and other feminine qualities.

This parade was also really special because there was a group of Baby Dolls. Baby Dolls were a krewe of African American women whose origins are based in prostitution in the 1800s. African American women were not allowed to work in the legal prostitution district of Storyville and so they dressed up as baby dolls to attract attention. Even after prostitution was made illegal, the Baby Doll tradition continued. The tradition had died out for many years, but has recently been revived by women who are drawn to the history of these strong women.

There were many great sights in Oshun!

The Krewe of Cleopatra was next. This was another favorite. The Krewe of Cleopatra is all female krewe that used to ride on the West Bank. It moved to the Uptown parade route a few years ago and always has beautiful floats. My boss rides in Cleopatra and its always fun when you know a rider!

Krewe D’Etat

Krewe D’Etat’s skeletons are always a fun parade.

 

 

All photos copyright of Lauren DeVoe. Please do not use without permission!

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Krewe du Vieux and Krewe Delusion 2016

Most people outside of New Orleans and Mobile think that Mardi Gras is just a single day. In reality, it is a full season, which starts on January 6th. In the Catholic calendar this is the Epiphany. Carnival, as the season is known, runs from the Epiphany to Fat Tuesday; the duration of Carnival depends on the year and when Easter falls (which is based on a complicated formula involving the vernal equinox and the full moon).

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The full moon the night of the parade!

So while the rest of you recover from the winter holidays after New Years has come and gone, those of us down here still have at least six weeks of feasting, partying and parading to endure. The Winter holidays and the New Year is really just how we warm up for Carnival.

There are several early parades, like the Joan of Arc parade, but the first big parade night is Krewe du Vieux and Krewe Delusion…two parades that are still completely DIY and mule operated. Before mechanical engines were created, mules pulled all the floats. While the other parades now have tractor pulled, professionally created floats, Krewe du Vieux and Krewe Delusion use mules and hand make everything. (There are other DIY parades, but they are smaller parades and not considered to stand amongst the major contenders).

For me, these two parades are the best representation of the spirit of both Carnival and of New Orleans herself. They always satire the politics of the city and the state and are completely bawdy, inappropriate and risque! They have some of the most amazing costumes, and when you watch them march past, it’s like watching a mile long procession of chaos and noise. These parades mean so much to those of us who live here.

My wonderful thesis advisor, Dr. Catherine Loomis, shared a story with me about why KdV is so important to her. I think her story shows you how the locals see and feel about this parade and why its such a beloved and well attended event:

In 2006, which you might remember was a very precarious Mardi Gras, we were waiting for the parade to start, and we all knew if it didn’t go well, that was it: the city was finished. So there we are, cocktails in hand, and the first float comes around the corner. And it catches on the bumper of a car, and the mule panics, and rears, and falls over dead. And all of us just lost it. It was everything that had gone wrong in nola in visible form. So we’re crying, and the mule’s owner is crying, and the police are calling for the horse removal machine (every parade has to have one on call) and the horse removal machine arrives—and the mule stands up! He wasn’t dead! And that’s how a bunch of English professors figured out that the city was going to be alright.

These were the first parades I ever attended, and each year they just get better and better. I wanted to share some pictures I took to give you a glimpse into the beauty and hilarity of Krewe du Vieux and Krewedeulusion! Enjoy!

This year the theme of KdV was XXX! KdV said of their parade: “Hoping to XXX out at least a few of the bad guys and bad memories, the extroverts, extremists, extra-terrestrials, expendables, sexplorers and sexperts of Krewe du Vieux will take to the streets of the Marigny, French Quarter and CBD on Saturday, January 23 at 6:00 PM (coming early this year). Spectators are advised to exercise extreme caution as exuberant exhibitionists!”

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Proteus and Orpheus 2015

Muses may be my favorite parade, but I think that Proteus and Orpheus have some of the most beautiful floats. They’re always a little bit Pagan themed as well. I loved this year’s Proteus floats and while I didn’t stay through most of Orpheus due to the rain, their floats are still pretty spectacular as well…

Proteus always starts out with…well, Proteus. Proteus is the Old Man of the Sea, said to be ever changing and therefore able to tell the future.

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IMG_0555IMG_0564I loved the elephant in this one…

IMG_0566IMG_0568IMG_0572IMG_0575IMG_0577IMG_0580IMG_0581IMG_0584IMG_0589IMG_0596IMG_0598IMG_0600IMG_0603IMG_0610IMG_0615IMG_0618IMG_0619IMG_0623IMG_0629IMG_0633This was my favorite float for multiple reason which are probably mostly obvious…

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Instead of the usual knights, Orpheus has charioteers.

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*All Photography copyright Lauren DeVoe, please don’t use without permission

Krewe of Muses 2015

It is that time of year once again and Mardi Gras is literally right around the corner. I actually managed to drag myself out to the Muses parade last night.

Muses has always been my favorite parade. I think it embodies the best parts of local Mardi Gras and while more and more tourists are coming to it, it’s still largely a local crowd. A lot of kids, a lot of great costumes and the Krewe of Muses always does a lot of great things for their community. And they always have the best throws.

My camera and I had a fight throughout the night. It has been awhile since I’ve done any photography, but I got a few good ones that I thought I would share. While I did not get a shoe this year, I was not disappointed by the parade.

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This lady had a truly impressive sign and was ready before the parade started rolling.

The beginning...

The beginning…

The Shriners always lead it off.

The Shriners always lead it off.

This year, the NOLA roller derby girls were the first line of the parade after the Shriners. The Big Easy Rollergirls were a lot of fun!

4 5 6 7 8The beautiful lit up butterflies came next and the official Muses front float.

9 10Next came the Muses Head Shoe and the Honorary Muse of the year. This year it was Sue Zemanick, the executive chef at local Gautreau’s.

This shoe is always very cool.

This shoe is always very cool.

The floats were great this year, though that certainly wasn’t a surprise. The Bathing Muses always start them off and the amazing (and my absolute favorite float ever) the Sirens always finishes them off. This year the riders were as sassy and excited to be out as ever!

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The Bathing Muses

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This was one of my favorite shots of the night. She is holding two shoes, one of which was made to look like the infamous Leg Lamp from The Christmas Story!

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The Shoe! People go nuts over these! Each shoe is handmade and each rider only has a few of them to give out. Outside of the Zulu coconut throw, these are probably the most prized throws of local Mardi Gras.

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Big Throw! This rider was hanging off the side of the float to catch the attention of a friend in the crowd.

13 14 15 17 18 19 20 21 22 24 25 27 28 29 30 32 35 36 41 42 50 51 The Sirens float is my favorite.  54 55Here is an article about the float with some more pictures. One of my favorite descriptions of New Orleans is from this article:

“The city of New Orleans is a very, very seductive place,” said Gisleson over the racket of power saws and spray-paint compressors. “It’s a place where the humidity almost has a personality, where letters open themselves and candles melt without being lit. We wanted to take that whole idea of seduction that is inherent in the Sirens (mythological creatures who lured sailors to their doom) and set it in our hometown.”

This float has over 200 lbs of glitter incorporated into it and it always comes at the end of the parade. When Muses was forming, they originally considered calling themselves Sirens instead. In mythology though, the Muses defeated the Sirens in a singing contest, so the all female krewe decided to go with Muses. To honor the Sirens though, they put them at the end of the parade, right in front of the fire trucks that always bring up the end of a parade and that blare their sirens loudly.

The Circus Arts kids were out and I caught this guy balancing his unicycle on his chin. They are always a fun edition to the parade.

26The Rolling Elvi were out. This is a fun subkrewe that allows everyone to go full out with Elvis! Clockwork Elvis, a popular local band that mashes Elvis and Clockwork Orange, performed with them.

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Throughout the rest of the parade were a lot of crazy fabulous people…

The Noisician Coalition is always a fun jumble of noise and costumes.

The Noisician Coalition is always a fun jumble of noise and costumes.

The Bearded Oysters are always amongst my favorites as well. Katrina Brees started this subkrewe and also created the amazing bikes below. Katrina created the I Heart Louisiana group, which works hard to get krewes to throw environmentally friendly throws.

39 40 43 44This guy was playing with a local band that floated past…

45I always enjoy seeing the Laissez Boys too…

46The NOLA Organ Grinders

47And Bate Bunda too!

48 49 52 53While the ending of the parade was bittersweet for me this year, it is definitely one you should get to and check out. Muses is a great time and just keeps getting better and better as the years go by.

*All photos copyright by Lauren DeVoe. Please do not use without permission!