Photos by Zave Smith
R is for rehearsal, as in Mardi Gras Indian rehearsal. I was privy to a practice for a Mardi Gras Indian celebration and there’s little I can compare it to. Packed tightly into a small bar, there must have been close to a hundred people swaying, singing, dancing, and chanting. At random intervals, representatives of different tribes would take to the floor and lead a call-and-response type of singsong. The evening felt like a cross between a séance, a hip-hop rhyming cipher, and a church service.
S is for Steve Harvey. Last year, The Steve Harvey Show broadcasted live from New Orleans leading up to Mardi Gras. It was stationed at the W hotel on Poydras Street which is one of our faves, too. S is also for Second Lining, a New Orleans tradition that began as a celebratory dance behind a funeral procession and now refers to the practice of spontaneously jumping into any parade in progress and dancing along with it. Fun, for sure.
T is for Treme. This is a neighborhood of New Orleans with historical significance. Once an undesirable area, it has slowly been transformed into an African-American mecca. UPTOWN previously profiled one Treme couple, Adolph and Naydja Bynum, who, quite literally, own a whole block of this beautiful neighborhood. Read the story here.
U is for underhanded throw. This is the throw you should perfect if you get to ride (and toss goodies from) a float. I elected to throw overhand, like a quarterback, and my arm was angry for weeks.
V is for Victory. Speaking of my overhand throws, the pain was worth it. After my first few moments on the float, I made a conscious decision to throw to the people way out on the fringes of the crowd below. The folks who didn’t want, or couldn’t get close enough, to have a fighting chance for beads. I was well-rewarded for my efforts through a series of pantomimed thank yous and enthusiastic thumbs ups from the people I threw to. My fave? There was a kid standing dejectedly on top of a RV that was parked inside a fenced parking lot, way behind the Mardi Gras enthusiasts crowded on the sidewalk. To get the distance I needed, I had to throw him a whole bag of beads like I was aiming for the end zone of a football field. He lit up like it was Christmas. Best moment of the parade.
W is for Woldenberg Park. It’s a park on the Mississippi River where the Zulu’s annual Lundi Gras Festival is held (see L). The park has beautiful views and is also close to a cute shopping center called Riverwalk.