The Mardi Gras 2019 rookie of the year award goes to the new Krewe Boheme foot parade that made its debut in the Marigny and French Quarter on Friday (Feb. 15). The largely female procession succeeded perfectly in capturing the delicious decadence of Paris in the 1920s (I know this because I’ve seen the movie “Midnight in Paris” three times).
The first Krewe Boheme parade was a beautiful, intimate, sometimes alluring, sometimes absurd ramble that instantly became an important part of what I call the new Mardi Gras (that assortment of idiosyncratic post-Katrina downtown parades such as Joan of Arc, Chewbacchus and ‘tit Rex that are redefining the big party).
Surrealism was an emerging style in 1920s Paris and the juxtaposition of random images within Krewe Boheme would have certainly made Salvador Dali stroke his mustache in appreciation. Hovering chandeliers, a banner made of underwear, a fatalistic gaggle of Marie Antoinette impersonators surrounding a pink glitter guillotine, twerkers rocking atop a two-story alligator float, a squad of Day of the Dead-esque human skeletons and a paper-mache statue of James Brown surrounded by a funky dance troupe, all glided by like a weirdly wonderful dream.
There were two bits of 21st-century Crescent City topicality mingled with the marching dada poetry. One sub-krewe devoted itself to poking fun at celebrity developer Sidney Torres. The marchers were each decked out in mini French Quarter police cruisers, like the ones Torres (who was depicted with dollar signs for eyes) instituted. Another sub-krewe, whose members were costumed as French artists and mimes, ironically described themselves as gentrifiers protesting gentrification.
There will be bigger parades in the coming daze, but there may not be any better than Krewe Boheme (parades are like campfires; you can build a big one and stand way back, or build a smaller one and get real close). And there will be parades that throw tons more trinkets (literally tons more), but will anything be as precious as the tiny glitter-covered bonbon-sized cake that I was handed by one of the doomed Antoinettes? I doubt it.
The emblem of Krewe Boheme is the notorious liqueur absinthe and the green fairy that symbolized its legendary hallucinogenic properties. Hence the preponderance of green wigs and iconic absinthe bottles among the paraders. Ironically, none of the bars nearest the intersection of Franklin Avenue and Royal Street stocked absinthe for the event, which probably made my Facebook Live video (above) and this story considerably more cogent than they might have otherwise been.
All hail Krewe Boheme. Long may the green fairy fly.
Update: This story was updated on Feb. 16 to include the detail that one sub-krewe described themselves as gentrifiers protesting gentrification.
Doug MacCash has the best job in the world, covering art, music and culture in New Orleans. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at Doug MacCash and on Facebook at Douglas James MacCash. As always, please add your point of view to the comment stream.