It's a 21st-century thing
Over the past few years, do-it-yourself dancing groups have proliferated in Mardi Gras parades like mushrooms after a spring rain. Maybe it’s a reflection of post-Katrina cultural pride? Maybe it’s the Carnival offshoot of the makers movement? Maybe it’s the influx of new blood in the city? Maybe, as 610 Stompers founder Brett Patron points out, the 2008 economic slump inspired some unexpected innovation. Maybe the big old krewes are just getting too big and/or too old to hold the interest of the generation that came of age at the millennium? In any case, these days, the most happening stuff is often happening between the floats. Read on for mini backstories about your favorite dance groups and tips on where to find them this Mardi Gras season.
(Disco Amigos, photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
Amazons founder Dianne Honore
The Amazons, some of whom are cancer survivors, don’t smile during their parade appearances in order to best represent a certain “ferocity of spirit and soul,” said Dianne Honore, who founded the group in 2012. Wearing warrior tunics and breast armor, The Amazons and their male supporters, the Scythians, perform formations during marches, “cutting a path through adversity” with their 21-inch swords, according to Honore. The Amazons appeared in the Joan of Arc parade (Jan. 6) and will appear in Femme Fatale (Feb. 19).
(Photo by Brett Duke, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
Amelia EarHawts Cabin Krewe
Amelia EarHawts Cabin Krewe
Founded in 2014, the 85-member dance group was inspired by the tragic female aviation pioneer who spent some of her last days at the recently restored Lakefront Airport in New Orleans. The EarHawts wear old-school stewardess and steward outfits as they sashay along parade routes. The troupe will come in for a landing during the Cleopatra parade (Feb. 17), King Arthur (Feb. 19), Druids (Feb. 22), Knights of Babylon (Feb. 23) and Iris (Feb. 25).
(Photo by Dinah Rogers, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune archive)
The Bearded Oysters
Founded in 2004, the Bearded Oysters are one of artist Katrina Brees’ early performance art projects. The group, which now includes roughly 900 lifetime members, was founded “to induce a hunger for Louisiana oysters,” Brees coyly claims. Each member wears a fake beard and a, shall we say, pelvic toupee. Look for the Oysters in the Krewe of Freret parade (Feb. 18), Muses (Feb. 23), and Tucks (Feb. 25).
(Photo by Kerry Maloney / NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
The Black Storyville Baby Dolls
Black Storyville Baby Dolls
As founder Dianne Honore explained, the Black Storyville Baby Dolls are a modern homage to the women who famously costumed in the African-American part of New Orleans’ red light district starting in 1912. Founded in 2014, the Dolls dress in lavish period costumes and, starting in 2017, will be accompanied by other costumed “Basin Street Characters.” Look for the Dolls in the Femme Fatale parade (Feb. 19), and at 9 a.m. Mardi Gras (Feb. 28) near the Backstreet Cultural Museum, 1116 Henriette Delille St.
(Photo by Dinah Rogers)