Look for the 610 Stompers in tonight's New Orleans Saints parade

610 Stompers costanza.jpg‘My dream’s coming true,’ said 610 Stompers founder Brett Patron. ‘I’m dancing when I want to, wearing the clothes I love — 1970s clothes. And I’ve gotten a lot of people to join me, which makes it all right.’

Who are those guys?

That was the question that ricocheted through the crowd at the Buddy Diliberto memorial parade on Jan. 31, as a phalanx of 35 dudes, dressed in identical Bruce Jenner-esque athletic outfits, made their way down Poydras Street, performing coordinated disco-era dance moves to the tune “The Rubberband Man.” 

The answer is: The 610 Stompers, New Orleans’ newest Carnival marching team, whose first-ever public appearance in the Buddy-D parade made them the talk of the town.

“I’m a dancer by nature,” said Stompers co-founder Brett Patron, a 36-year-old real estate appraiser. “I dance whenever I’m given the chance.” Trouble is, Patron said, the chances have become less and less frequent over the years. There are still occasional rug-cutting opportunities at wedding receptions, and nights out at music clubs. But as a father of three grade-schoolers, Patron realized that his Patrick Swayze period was coming to a close.

The 610 Stompers
The 610 Stompers The New Orleans marching club's co-founder Brett Patron discusses being "ordinary men with extraordinary moves."

Until January 2009 that is, when the inspiration to form the Stompers struck. As Patron explains it, the plan was hatched during a rambling afternoon conversation including his wife, sister, brother-in-law, and a couple of cousins, at his Old Metairie home. Martinis were consumed.

Somehow, the topic of female Carnival marching groups such as the Gold Dusters, Dance Connection, and the Pussyfooters, came up. Why isn’t there a male dance team, someone mused. 


610 stompers logo.jpgThe 610 Stompers’ logo places the roof of the Superdome atop an Interstate 610 — which founder Brett Patron calls “the locals’ highway” — sign, held aloft by Trans Am wings that symbolizing the group’s macho ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ vibe.

Patron, with the help of friends and family, would form a club made up of men like him who longed to dance. It would be named after Superdome section 610, where he holds season tickets. 

From the start, Patron, whose nick name is Slab, wasn’t interested in assembling a team of experienced performers. He sought plain Joes, with a touch of Saturday Night Fever in their souls. “I didn’t want dancers in the group,” Patron said. “I wanted regular guys who just loved to dance.” 

The motto would be “Ordinary men with extraordinary moves.”

Auditions were held in August 2009 at an Uptown barbecue restaurant. Hopefuls performed solo routines before a trio of judges (including Patron), a la the “So You Think You Can Dance” television dance contest.

A carpenter, a dentist, a florist, an emergency room doctor and a stock broker were among the ordinary men, ages 22 to 62, who won spots in the club. Patron’s cousin Haley Harris, a life-long dance enthusiast, worked out the choreography to a few irresistibly rhythmic songs such as “Girls, They Love Me,” “Bust a Move,” and, of course, “Halftime (Stand Up and Get Crunk).” 

610stompers costanza 2.jpgThe gold spray-painted shoes add a touch of glitz.

Patron and others devised the all-important uniform: gold painted running shoes, tube socks, tank tops, terry-cloth head bands to keep the abundant perspiration out of the eyes of the not-always-athletic dancers, scarlet satin jackets to provide some glitz, and ghastly sky-blue polyester coach’s shorts to assure a certain 1970s “Magnum P.I.” fashionability. 

“It was part of my vision,” said Patron of the tight-waisted shorts. “Showing off ordinary men’s legs would be extremely funny.” 

The Stompers are encouraged-but-not-required to grow mustaches. 

“The mustache has gotten a bad rap, and we wanted to bring it back,” Patron said. 

After a series of arduous rehearsals at an undisclosed Mid-City bar, the Stompers’ first performance came Jan. 15 when they were invited to entertain at the Pussyfooters charity Carnival ball. Two weeks later they took to the streets in the wildly popular Buddy D parade. 

Last Thursday, the Stompers provided the halftime entertainment at a University of New Orleans Privateers basketball game at Lakefront Arena. Slab was front and center, proudly leading his ordinary men through “the strong man,” “the punch up punch down,” “the Bob Fosse back up,” “the John Travolta point,” and other extraordinary moves.

The crowd seemed to cheer especially loudly during “Oops Up Side Your Head,” when Patron and company provocatively waved their polyester-covered posteriors toward the stands. Or was that a collective groan?

There’s an undeniable “Napoleon Dynamite” aspect to the whole 610 Stompers style. 

“We take our dancing seriously,” Patron said, “and we’re good at it. But not perfect. That makes it fascinating and somewhat funny. When they hear about it, people expect a drunken St. Patrick’s Day marching krewe. What they get is actual choreographed dance moves. Impressive dance moves.” 

The Stompers’ moves are impressive enough to have won them a slot in the unprecedented Saints victory parade tonight. 

How does it feel to have gone from a fan in section 610 to joining the Saints in their triumph?
“It’s pretty much a dream,” Patron said. “It feels like the stars are aligned. … We felt like we were just launched out of a cannon with the Buddy D parade. Talk about perfect fits; to celebrate a great moment in the Saints and the city’s history.”

The 610 Stompers will appear in Thursday’s Muses parade.

See videos of the Buddy D parade here.

Visit the 610 Stompers on facebook.

small Doug MacCash, mug.jpgN.O. Man's Land
Arts writer Doug MacCash can be reached at dmaccash@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3481. For more art stories and videos, visit www.nola.com/arts.  Follow him on Twitter.

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