Warning: sci-fi parade picture overload!!
Remember when our server from breakfast recommended we visit her at the restaurant/bar she worked at in the evening? Well we did. And after getting seated, a different server came up. It would’ve been great to have the continuity and the story, but whatever. He was a lovely man who had grown up in the suburbs of New Orleans, but had lived for sixteen years in San Francisco. A few years ago he had moved back to help care for his ailing mother. He chatted and told us more about living in New Orleans, and then gave us some parade info gold.
He said, “Don’t go to the main parade. It’s crazy and they reuse floats. Yeah it’s pretty, but it’s all the same floats and it’s massive. Go here…” Out came a small parade map, and he outlined how to get there from the bar. It was about a 30 minutes walk, past the end of bourbon street, and out of the French Quarter. It was a small parade, where everything was hand made, ordered, and customized. It went through smaller residential streets, not the main big lanes. And it was sci- fi themed!!
So after a delicious meal and some live music, the Chewbacchus parade was the destination. The walk, though wet and a little cold, was lovely. The parade was indeed through a small residential street. There were small houses and cars parked on both sides, leaving a simple one lane each way street. It looked like any other small residential city street….except that there were people lining the sides…and they were all cosplaying! Okay, they weren’t all cosplaying, but let me have the hyperbole for dramatic effect.
Having been warned that Bourbon street during Mardi Gras weekend was a big Frat party, the walk back to the hotel was irresistible. I wanted to see it. The perverse curiosity was too much for me. I’m not a Frat party kind of gal, never have been, but how often do you see Bourbon street during Mardi Gras?
Was it a Frat party? Heck yes! Bright lights everywhere – from all the bars, and also from the big spotlights the police put up at regular intervals to illuminate the streets. Loud music from every single bar – pumping into the street. People from them standing outside beckoning you inside to drink and party. Signs being held up offering 3 for 1 drinks. People in masks, beads, tutus, and tops – all in Mardi Gras purple, green, and yellow – everywhere. Large novelty cups of drinks full of sugary alcohol, nipple glitter, and tons of people on balconies wanting….things….okay, women to show their chests…in exchange for beads and feather boas. Everyone was intoxicated. Groups of young women dancing and laughing. Groups of young men laughing and looking. It was loud and energetic and full of people.
To be perfectly clear, the flashing thing for beads is not a Mardi Gras thing. It’s a thing that happens on Bourbon street where most of the strip clubs are also located. Traditionally the beads are trinkets that are thrown out by the krewes and the colors all represent something: purple – justice, green – faith, and gold – power.
It was a lot. But it was also filled with laughter and dancing and colors. There was a high energy in the air, and everyone was letting go and having fun. It wasn’t all drinks and debauchery, though that is the main theme. It was fun to witness. It was fun to see. And though I’m not a novelty cup, 3 for 1 drinks, and flash people for beads woman, I’m glad I got to see all this and feel the frenetic energy in the air. It’s infectious. And by the end of the street having walked through it, Andrew and I were both laughing and giggling to ourselves, feeling excited and energized.
That’s it. That was my New Orleans experience. Next up, Las Vegas.