(Disco Amigos, photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

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.

(Photo by Brett Duke, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)

Amazons

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 Dinah Rogers, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune archive)

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 Kerry Maloney / NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

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 Dinah Rogers)

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 Susan Poag / NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Camel Toe Lady Steppers

Founded in 2003, the Camel Toe Lady Steppers appear exclusively in the Muses parade (Feb. 23). The 50 Steppers, who audition for a place in the troupe, took their name from an unintentionally revealing aspect of some mail-order majorette costumes.

Read the tell-all story: "Why women's Mardi Gras dance groups have naughty names: Answers for newbies."

(Photo courtesy the Krewe of Crescent City Dames)

Crescent City Dames

Founded in 2012, the Krewe of Crescent City Dames create new hand-beaded corsets for each Carnival season. Member Sarah Douglas said that the krewe’s pearlescent past themes included “Women of Power” and “The Holidays.” In 2017 the Dames will be “Toasting the Cocktail.”  Look for them to sashay forth in the French Quarter on February 24, beginning at the Bourbon Cowboy bar at 241 Bourbon Street.

Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Dames de Perlage

The Dames, who first appeared in 2013, are devoted to all aspects of bead work, from Mardi Gras Indians to the gowns of Carnival queens. The 45 members do not choreograph or even dance per se, but they represent the do-it-yourself aspect of 21st-century parade clubs so well that they seemed to fit the bill. Look for the Dames in the Freret parade (Feb. 18), King Arthur (Feb. 19), Tucks (Feb. 25), Krewe of Oak (Feb. 24), and they parade independently on Lundi Gras (Feb. 27) in the French Quarter.

Read: "Dames de Perlage Mardi Gras marchers are all about the beads."

Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Dictator's Dancin' Darlings

The satirical male Darlings, seen each year during Krewe d'Etat (Feb. 24), are surely one of the models for the 21st-century wave of thematic dance troupes. The daring Darlings have appeared as inattentive Vatican police, North Korean despots, portly Saints defensive coaches, etc. At this writing we are unsure when the Darlings first appeared. In a 2001 Times-Picayune story, columnist Angus Lind reported that d'Etat did not include "monotonous dance groups" – not that the Darlings are ever monotonous. But by the early 20teens, YouTube videos capture the Darlings clowning along the Uptown route.

Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Disco Amigos

The 95-member krewe, which was founded in 2012, has never recovered from "Saturday Night Fever." Male dancers dress in red and black Travolta ensembles, while females don silvery glam gowns as they get down to Bee Gees-era tunes blasted from a Chevy Express van. Look for the Amigos in the Cleopatra parade (Feb. 17), Olympia (Feb. 18 in Covington), Barkus (Feb. 19), Nyx (Feb. 22), Tucks (Feb. 25), and Corps de Napoleon (Feb. 26 in Metairie).

(Photo by Josh Brasted, nola.com | The Times-Picayune)

El Lucha Krewe

The co-ed performance art and dance troupe, which is devoted to Mexican pro wrestling, includes archaeologists and anthropologists, according to founder Max St-Hilaire. The highly kinetic group got started in 2013 as part of the Krewe of Freret. Look for El Lucha Krewe in the Freret parade (Feb. 18), Tucks (Feb. 25), and Corps de Napoleon (Feb. 26 in Metairie).

(Photo by Brett Duke, nola.com | The Times-Picayune)

Golddigger Babydolls

Golddigger co-founder Merline Kimble said that her grandparents paraded in the baby doll tradition back in the 1930s. But, as family lore has it, their group disbanded during World War II. In 1977, Kimble and Lois Nelson Andrews reformed the Golddiggers. The dancing group costumes in brightly colored antique-style combinations of “little dresses with bloomers and bonnets.” Back in the 1930s, Kimble said, when women flamboyantly paraded in public on Mardi Gras morning, it was “a bold statement, like bra burning.” Look for the glint of the Golddiggers at noon on Mardi Gras (Feb. 28) at 1511 Dumaine St.

(Photo by Brett Duke, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)

Gris Gris Strut

The 50-member troupe, formed in 2009, is devoted to forward-moving, full-on dance moves. Founder Cherie Pitre said that the black and gold-oriented Gris Gris are taking a breather in 2017, but plan to return further on down the road.

(Photo by Josh Brasted / NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Jailhouse Rockers

A brand-new branch of the beloved Krewe of the Rolling Elvi scooter-borne Presley impersonators. The Jailhouse Rockers plan to dress in inmate denim and dance to vintage tunes by The King (who else?) during their first ever outing with the 2017 Cleopatra parade (Feb. 17).

(Photo by Doug MacCash / NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Krewe des Fleurs

The goal of the Fleurs marching group, which popped up in 2016, is to translate the Louisiana landscape into a mobile, Champagne-sipping, self-lighted Carnival spectacle. Each year the Fleurs plan to model themselves on a different blossom. In 2017 they represent that most Crescent City of blooms, the Iris. Though the Fleurs will shake it up when the spirit moves them, like the Merry Antoinettes and Dames de Perlage, the Fleurs are mostly a costume collective.  Look for the botanical ladies to sprout up in the Cleopatra parade (Feb. 17), and, naturally, in the Iris parade (Feb. 25).

Read: "Watch the Mardi Gras marching group Krewe des Fleurs sprout up"

(Photo by Brett Duke, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Krewe of King James: Super Bad Sex Machine Strollers

Founded in 2014 by WWOZ host DJ Soul Sister, the Krewe of King James is a marching homage to the legendary Godfather of Soul James Brown. The group includes both male and female dancers who practice both choreographed and freestyle dance. In 2017 the Sex Machine strolled during the Krewedelusion parade (Feb. 11).

(Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Leijorettes

Formed in 2014, The Leijorettes are dedicated to the memory of Princess Leia from the Star Wars movie series. The membership, which numbers 100, draws from local roller derby clubs and marches and/or dances only during the Chewbacchus parade (Feb. 11).

Watch: "Carrie Fisher memorial parade videos: In case you missed the real thing."

(Photo courtesy the Mande Milkshakers)

Mande Milkshakers

The North Shore gets into the dancing double entendres act in 2017 with the debut of the Mande (Mandeville) Milkshakers, a 32-member krewe that costumes as sultry 1950s housewives. Like similar female ensembles from the Pussyfooters to the Muff-A-Lottas,  the Milkshakers aspire to be “naughty, but not too naughty,” said co-founder Tina Rhinehart. The Mandes will be shaking in the Dionysus parade in Slidell (Feb. 19) and the Orpheus parade in Mandeville (Feb. 24).

(Photo by Chris Granger, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)

Merry Antoinettes

Formed in 2016, the Antoinettes were inspired by the doomed French queen. The anything-goes Antoinettes accept (even welcome) costume malfunctions as they strut and toss cake to the crowd (actually brioche). Like the Dames de Perlage, the Antoinettes don't dance, but they seem to play a role in 21st century Carnival evolution. The group's heads will roll during the Krewedelusion parade (Feb. 11) only.

(Photo by Rusty Costanza / NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Muff-A-Lottas

Founded in 2009, the 50 Muff-A-Lottas adopt the personae of sassy 1950s diner waitresses, donning saddle shoes and short skirts with "lots of crinoline" to dance to R&B-era tunes from New Orleans faves such as Ernie K-Doe and Irma Thomas. The troupe's name is a variation on the muffuletta sandwich. The Muff-A-Lottas will be taking orders at the following parades: Cleopatra (Feb. 17), Krewe of Pontchartrain (Feb. 18), Nyx (Feb. 22), and Tucks (Feb. 25).

(Michael DeMocker, Nola.com / The Times-Picayune)

N'awlins Nymphs

Formed in 2012, the Nymphs are a satirical female component of the ever-edgy Krewe d’Etat parade (Feb. 24). The Nymphs change thematic targets annually. Past subjects have included a pastiche of “Fifty Shades of Gray” and a commentary on the mayor’s disagreement with the fire department titled: “Mitch Better Have Our Money.” Be prepared, the 2017 theme is a dig at both the new president’s past foibles and the new, broadly disdained, title of New Orleans’ minor league baseball team.

(Photo by Brett Duke, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)

New Orleans Baby Doll Ladies

Millisia White founded the group in 2005 in the mold of a century-old Crescent City costuming custom. The 50-member Baby Doll Ladies began by accompanying the Zulu parade, but in 2016 they were given a slot of their own in the St. Charles Avenue procession in front of the Zulu parade. The Baby Doll Ladies represent a connection with the city's first all-female marching groups, and, according to White, remain the only all-female group in the Mardi Gras morning (Feb. 28) Uptown lineup.

New Orleans Baby Doll Ladies Ayanna Barham, and Juliana Wagner.

(Photo by Josh Brasted / NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

NOLA Cherry Bombs

Founded in 2011, the NOLA Cherry Bombs base their identity on the song "Cherry Bomb" by the 1970s women rockers The Runaways. The 30 Bombs costume in an alluring combo of white tank tops, red tutus, and black boots, thereby achieving a vibe that is "fierce," with a touch of "kitsch." Look for the NOLA Cherry Bombs in the King Arthur parade (Feb. 19), Muses (Feb. 23), and Iris (Feb. 25).

(Photo courtesy the NOLA Jewels)

NOLA Jewels

2017 will be the first year the Jewels bring their glitter to New Orleans parades. Co-founder Renee Hutton said that the 14-members troupe has adopted a "fun, flirty, but classy" 1920 flapper theme. Look for the group to glint during Pygmalion parade (Feb. 18), Alla (Feb. 19) and Thoth (Feb. 26).

(Photo courtesy the Nyxettes)

NOLA Nyxettes

Established in 2014, the 42-member Nyxettes got their start as the dancing divas of the Nyx parade, with tux, tails and top hat costumes recalling the Radio City Rockettes. Look for some high kicks in the Poseidon parade in Slidell (Feb. 11), Freret (Feb. 18), King Arthur parade (Feb. 19), Nyx (Feb. 22), Iris (Feb. 25), Thoth (Feb. 26), and Zulu (Feb. 28).

(Photo by Dinah Rogers / NOLA.co | The Times-Picayune)

NOLA Showgirls

Founded in 2013 by Rebecca Fox and Alicia Morales, the 30 Showgirls glint with Las Vegas-style glamour as they stir the air with ostrich feather fans. The showgirls will step into the spotlight during the Carrollton parade (Feb. 19), Cleopatra (Feb. 17), and Okeanos (Feb. 26).

(Photo by Brett Duke / NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Organ Grinders

The Organ Grinders, who got started in 2010, were inspired by Prince's "Violet the Organ Grinder."  The mostly female fez-wearing dancers, aka "Sextah Monkeys," are attended by mostly male "Monkey Spankers." This year, the group will be grinding during the Druids parade (Feb. 22), Muses (Feb. 23), and Tucks (Feb. 25).

(Michael DeMocker, Nola.com / The Times-Picayune)

Oui Dats

Founded in 2014, the 48-member dance troupe is, (like the Merry Antoinettes above) dedicated to the ill-fated 18th-century French queen, with "a little Storyville involved," explained member Lesli Fumar. The ever-positive big-haired Oui Dats will perform in the Cleopatra parade (Feb. 17), Alla (Feb. 19), and Morpheus (Feb. 24).

(Photo by Amanda McCoy / NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Pussyfooters

Founded in 2001, the 123-member Pussyfooters troupe is the grande dame of the dancing double entendres. The name of the group was inspired in part by the play "The Vagina Monologues." Members, who wear cotton candy-colored wigs, white boots and lace-up boustieres must be 30 years old or above. In 2017 the troupe is expected to strut its stuff, so to speak, in the following parades: Cleopatra (Feb. 17), Femme Fatale (Feb. 19), Nyx (Feb. 22), Muses (Feb. 23) and Thoth (Feb. 26).

(Photo by Michael DeMocker / NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Roux La La

The 25-member dance troupe, founded in 2010, is symbolically inspired by the most fundamental Louisiana culinary touchstone, the roux (a flavorful gumbo thickener made with flour and oil), with a smidge of Moulin Rouge mixed in. Look for Roux La La to stir things up during the King Arthur parade (Feb. 19), Nyx (Feb. 22), Morpheus (Feb. 24) and Thoth (Feb. 26).

(Photo by Brett Duke, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)

Sirens of New Orleans

Formed in 2010, the 154 Sirens proudly dance the entire route of every parade they participate in, while dispensing decorated bottles and luring unwary sailors to their demise. Look for the Sirens to surface during the Cleopatra parade (Feb. 17), Nyx (Feb. 22), and Krewe d'Etat (Feb. 24).

(Michael DeMocker, Nola.com / The Times-Picayune)

610 Stompers

Formed by Brett Patron aka "Slab" in 2009, the middle-age male Stompers have achieved national fame with their unaccountably alluring dance moves and difficult-to-pinpoint subversiveness. The 120-member group was named for Patron's Superdome section during Saints games. Watch for pale blue coach's pants, red satin jackets, ever-stylish sweatbands and actual moustaches. The Stompers bumped and ground (grinded) at the Krewe of Orion parade in Baton Rouge (Feb. 11), and will appear in Carrollton (Feb. 19), Nyx (Feb. 22), Hermes (Feb. 24), Thoth (Feb. 26), and Orpheus (Feb. 27).

(Photo by Brett Duke, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)

Star-Steppin' Cosmonaughties

The 41-member Cosmonaughties that first paraded in 2012 is affiliated with the outer space-oriented Krewe de Lune. The dancers are accompanied by giant alien creature puppets. Look for the glittering group in the Pygmalion parade (Feb. 18), Nyx (Feb. 22), and "somewhere between St. Claude Avenue and Royal Street" on Mardi Gras morning (Feb. 28).

(Photo by Josh Brasted, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

TAP DAT

The 30-member troupe, established in 2008, dances constantly during appearances, which makes it impossible to be included in the longer, stamina-sapping parades. The group's black and white costumes obviously tie into the "Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints" theme. Asked if there was anything more to the title, founder Nikki Miner: "No, we're classy ladies …" In 2017 TAP DAT appeared in Krewedelusion (Feb. 11).

Photo by Doug MacCash , NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

The Twirling Etceteras

The Etceteras aren't really a Mardi Gras parade DIY dance group (that's a photo of three Muff-A-Lottas we met in the Marigny), it's just our way of saying that if we missed any Mardi Gras parade DIY dance groups, please help us add them to the list. Send a solid contact number or email address plus three photos to dmaccash@nola.com. Also, as always, drop your comments in the comment stream; we'll respond. Really, we will.