Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 19, 2019 / Gladys Hayden.
Meeting of the Courts Each year at the meeting of the courts there s a particular song that is played over and over (and over and over). The theme to Rex is a song called "If Ever I Cease To Love." After listening to the play by play by the on-air commentators and Mardi Gras Historians (like Mr. Mardi Gras Authur Hardy) " If Ever I Cease To Love" is considered to be THE pinnacle Mardi Gras song as well as the most traditional. Really guys? I ve never heard that song in my life. My curiosity was peaked and I went on a mission to find out everything I could about this ultimate Mardi Gras song. As it turns out "If Ever I Cease To Love" is steeped in tradition and remains probably the oldest Mardi Gras tunes out there.
After the founding of the Mystic Krewe of Comus in 1857 (and their nighttime torch-lit parade) the Krewe Of Rex established several key factors that would become staples for the entire Carnival tradition in 1872: the Mardi Gras flag the official colors of purple green and gold and the "royal anthem" of a song titled "If Ever I Cease To Love." In classic New Orleans style the song comes from a burlesque show entitled "Blue Beard" and features some of the craziest lyrics this side of a Christina Aguilera National Anthem performance: "If Ever I Cease To Love If Ever I Cease To Love/May cows lay eggs and fish grow legs If Ever I Cease To Love." Our very own Edward Branley recently told the fascinating story of how these insane lyrics have anything to do with Mardi Gras.
These doubloons are anodized in many different colors and made of aluminum. They usually depict the theme of the parade on one side and the emblem of the Krewe throwing them on the other. Over the years these have become collector s items. For the Bacchus Kings parade doubloons are thrown with the image of the Celebrity King on one side of the doubloon. And for those lucky enough to catch one and hold onto it it s a sure fire souvenir to be kept forever. Other more popular throws are cups (also known as dinnerware of New Orleans) stuffed animals and long pearl beads. Warning! Don t Reach Down to Pick Up Doubloons!! If you are at your first parade and start to reach down to pick up a doubloon with your hand you can expect your fingers to never be the same! Why you ask? When doubloons hit the ground all those around stomp the ground and rush to claim them.
Masks made from pale pastel plumage with shiny sequins are standard fare at Mardi gras Carnival and masquerade parties. There s an allure and style to them possessed by no other costume element. Much is made of our desire to pretend and the imagination s ability to do so. Few activities give us the opportunity as readily as does the costume party. Frills and flourishes that have no other place are found in abundance at parades of show costume-clad dancers wearing yards of sequined fishnet and feathered elegance. None of it would have the same mystery without the elegance of the mask. These beautiful adornments have a history of their own that heralds back to court functions in pre-Revolutionary France. There s the hint of a palace in every feathery sequined one of them.
Though debutante balls and other high society events marking the holiday are still prominent they are no longer the only way to participate in the excitement. A trip to New Orleans during Carnival season is highly recommended if you wish to see everything first-hand but if that is too long a way from home try setting up a Carnival parade in your city or neighborhood. You need to organize some participants get plenty of festive decorations and start thinking of the most outrageous costumes not to mention get the permission and cooperation of local authorities. If that is hard to come by throwing a Carnival-themed party is another great way of sharing the thrill of Mardi Gras.