Tuesday, January 29, 2013

‘Naughty parading

I’ve seen Mardi Gras parades from almost every angle. As a child, I watched from a wooden seat/bench attached to the top of a ladder with my dad standing behind it; in elementary school from balconies and porches at my parents’ friends’ parties. 

I’ve had front row view, a back row view. I’ve joined makeshift walking parades in the French Quarter. Last year, I even rode on a float on Mardi Gras day, the first time I’ve thrown beads, not waved for them.

This year I got a whole new perspective, which I thought was impossible after 29 years of parading. And it’s not even Mardi Gras day yet!

This year, I joined a dance krewe. The star-steppin Cosmonaughties!!! 

We’re cosmic…and naughty.

I had my dancing debut last Saturday night when we danced in between Mardi Gras floats for 7.1 miles down St. Charles Avenue, passing thousands and thousands of people, properly strutting our stuff. 

I don’t like being cliché (and especially not about Mardi Gras) but all I can say is that it was honestly the most fun I’ve had in a long time.

…Like, I can’t stop talking about it. Still, three days later. 

My poor friend Meredith had to put up with me all day Sunday randomly blurting out, “Oh! and then we saw THIS….!!!” All. Day. 

(It’s OK, I bought her beer.)

Aside from looking AWESOME dressed up in a blue, black and silver outfit and dancing (which I love more than most things in life), my favorite part was seeing Mardi Gras from that perspective.

People are cheering for you, but they don’t want beads. They just want you to do something cool or even just smile, like a celebrity. (MARY KATE??!!??)

Hundreds of thousands of eyes are on you during the parade, everywhere you look. 
And when you told all your friends that you would be in the back row, you got acquaintances of all walks of life suddenly calling your name, cheering. 

I saw work colleagues, high school friends, college friends, old co-workers, MY BOSS and my parents to name a few, sprinkled throughout the night. 

There were people on the sidelines who danced along to the music, people whose faces I couldn’t see behind cameras, people who went crazy screaming when we did even the most basic moves.

Because when 36 decked-out ladies are all doing something in sync, that’s something to marvel at. 

Seriousuly, we could have all walked down the street with our hands in the air like Cornholio (uh, late 90s joke) and that would have gotten claps and cheers.

But we did this instead.

I had the great fortune of standing behind a dancer who was dressed as the best astronaut ever, with silver metallic tights, silver metallic jacket, a blue metallic bandeau top (P.S., guys, this. is. a. bandeau. top. Ha). 

On top of that she wore a space helmet all lit up with LED lights and caught the attention of MANY a professional photographer. 

I stood right behind her and watched as she was followed for a good distance by a guy holding the most expensive video camera I’d ever seen, ducking down and making circular shots, talking on his headset to someone. (TMZ IS THAT YOU???)

He must have followed her for a straight two minutes. She just looked ahead and smiled like a professional…astronaut. 

“You’re going to be in, like, 14 documentaries!” I told her.

My other favorite part was that the four months of weekly practices (four months!) paid off. I like working towards a goal. And I had four friends who were on the team, so…bonus. 

I know it sounds like a lot, but four months is actually the right amount of time it takes people who are otherwise busy with their lives to learn six dances without being overwhelmed.

Each week, we would gather at a yoga studio or a house with a big living room and work on moves and counts and listen to really good music. It wasn’t work at all.

Also not work were the dance parties we had along the route. A PROPER DANCE PARTY IN THE STREET!!! Something probably banned in the Mid-West!!

See, during parades, there are times where you’re stopped and instead of doing a memorized routine, we all just let loose and went crazy high-energy dancing with each other, and with whoever wanted to join in. 

I distinctly remember the cutest little boy dancing with us in the street, he couldn’t have been more than six years old, literally raising the roof and smiling so big I gave him one of my blinking blue bracelets. 

And then wished I could adopt him.

Lastly, my other other, other favorite part was that we all got to pick our own blue, black and silver outfits.

To the moon and back!!!

Some other dance krewes in New Orleans wear the same outfits, which is fine and all, but being able to pick out your ensemble lets you show off your personality. And I think people put a lot more effort into their personalized outfits than they would if they had to wear, say, the same Discount Dance ordered thing.

(For example, if the only way I could stand out in a group dressed like po-boy sandwiches was to not wear a lettuce hat, I’d have less fun.)

For my outfit, I fashioned a Forever 29 21 skirt into a tube top, got leopard fishnets, a turquoise skirt and had my sewing genius friend make a tutu top I saw in a magazine and fell in love with. 

(I also had my brother buy me some sweet silver sneakers for Christmas and I liked thinking about him when I’d look down.)

So, yea, it was nice little Saturday. WHAT DID YOU DO??

I have a video below that my roommate took, that I believe captures the sprit of the street dance party, at least a little. (When my mom figures out how to upload a video I'll post that too.)

kisses, ya'll

I’m still waiting to find a clip of the astronaut dancer somewhere…in a documentary. 

If you see something like that, let me know. It could easily become my other, other, other, other, other favorite thing.


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