What would Mardi Gras be without its parades? And what would Mardi Gras parades be without it sassy, sequined, irreverent dance troupes and marching clubs? In the past few years, marching groups have been popping up all over. It’s a great way to be a part of Mardi Gras without the expense of joining a big krewe. The best of the best groups like to do it up big. Big costumes, big color, big hair, big glitter. Watch for these great groups on the parade route:
Here are just a few of the many groups:
Amazons – To represent a certain “ferocity of spirit and soul,” the Amazons, some of whom are cancer survivors, don’t smile on their parade route. They don warrior tunics and breast armor, and, along with the Scythians (their male supporters), they perform formations during marches with their swords.
Amelia EarHawts Cabin Krewe – This dance group was founded in in 2014, inspired by the tragic female aviation pioneer who spent some of her last days at Lakefront Airport in New Orleans. They take off down the street in old-time flight attendant outfits.
Bearded Oysters – No, New Orleans hasn’t got to the point where we have realoysters dancing down the street, but we do have this girls’ troupe that’s more into shaking and wooing than any kind of stilted choreography. Men are also involved, dressed up as chefs and called “Oyster Shuckers.”
Black Storyville Baby Dolls – Founded in 2014,this group throws black roses to honor the women who costumed and paraded in the African-American part of New Orleans’ red-light district in 1912. They also throw cigars which the first dolls smoked openly in public.Joining them on the route are the “Basin Street Characters.”
Big Easy Rollergirls – What Fat Tuesday parade would be complete without New Orleans’ only professional roller derby team? The girls are ready to put on a jam – and maybe even challenge you to a match race!
Crescent City Dames – Since 2012, the Crescent City Dames have created their own hand-beaded corsets. In the past, themes have included “Women of Power,” “The Holidays” and “Toasting the Cocktail.” They sashay annually on theFriday before Mardi Gras in the French Quarter.
The Dance Connection – This 40+ year old group’s motto is “UNITY…Though dance and Friendship.” Established in 1979, TDC was the first troupe to use a mobile sound system.
Divine Jewels of Covington – This marching group recycles Mardi Gras beads in an interesting way – they use them to make elaborately decorated bustiers and other accoutrements. The guys who accompany the Jewels are called Jokers. They wear top hats and dress in black with an accent color matching their Jewel. The group was founded in 2018 and currently has 44 Jewels and 27 Jokers. Come see them in the French Quarter the Friday before Mardi Gras.
The Half-Fast Walking Club – The best known marching group in New Orleans might just be The Half-Fast Walking Club, founded by legendary clarinetist Pete Fountain and his friends in 1961. Although Pete passed away in 2016, his band of merry men continue on, following a route, unchanged since the mid-1970s. They begin at 7 a.m. on Mardi Gras morning at Commander’s Palace in the Garden District, “toot and scoot” downtown on St. Charles Avenue and, after a brief interlude on Canal Street, turn onto Bourbon Street, wind around the Quarter, and eventually end up at the Monteleone Hotel.
Krewe of the Rolling Elvi – This group has two goals. Honor the memory of the King and entertain parade revelers. They succeed on both levels. Dozens of sequin clad men riding around on scooters is a site you don’t want to miss.
Jailhouse Rockers – This krewe is a spin-off of the popular Krewe of the Rolling Elvi. Thank you, thank you, thank you very much for applauding them on the parade route.
Laissez Boys – They don’t dance or march but, in the true spirit of Mardi Gras this krewe rolls. Watch for their motorized Lazy Boys on the parade route. You’ll have a new appreciation for that beat-up recliner in your parents living room. In fact, you’ll find yourself mumbling, “I need one of those.”
Muff-a-Lottas – Named after New Orleans’ famous sandwich the muffuletta, this groupdresses like feisty 1950s diner waitresses in saddle shoes and short skirts. They only dance to oldies with a New Orleans connection – tunes from Ernie K Doe, Irma Thomas, Fats Domino, The Dixie Cups, Shirley Ellis, and so on! They throw scarves, cat-eye sunglasses and special Muff-A-Lotta beads.
NOLA Showgirls –Those ostrich-feather fans belong to the NOLA Showgirls who add a little Las Vegas glamour to parade route (their Sunset Strip.)They’ve appeared in several TV shows, movies and commercials.
Red Beans – The first bean krewe was founded in 2008 and paraded for the first time in 2009. The 150 krewe members march on “the best Monday of the year,” Lundi Gras, at 2 p.m through the Marigny and Treme where they meet the Dead Beans.They are typically joined by thousands of “unofficial” paraders in their own bean suits.
Roux La La – Founded in 2009, this group get its name from the roux (a base for gumbo). According to their website, they are “New Orleans’ official swamp steppin’, booty shakin’, booze guzzlin’, pot stirrin’, GLITTER IN YOUR FACE female dance troupe. Their aim is to “better our community one sequin at a time.”
Sirens of New Orleans – Since 2010, the dancing mermaids and the Sailor Corp have danced the entire route of every parade they’ve been in, tossing their signature decorated “message in a bottle.”
The Streetcar Strutters – This group rolled down St. Charles Avenue for the first time in 2017. Their group’s green and gold costumes feature hand-decorated conductor caps.
TAP DAT – Established in 2008, TAP DAT wears black and gold costumes and tap dances their way into Mardi Gras history every year.
(Information from mardigrasneworleans.com)