Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 21, 2019 / Fran Petty
It is usual that during the carnival aristocrats dress up as commoners men cross-dress as women and poor people dress up as princes and princesses - social roles and class differences are expected to be forgotten once a year but only for the duration of the festival. Rivertown s Mardi Gras Museum in New Orleans takes you through 100 years of Mardi Gras history showcasing floats memorabilia and pictures helping you understand all the history and culture of the festive holiday. There are lots of cheap hotels available both inside and out of the French Quarter so you can be as near or far from the parties as you like.
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.
Behind the band come six "strong men" from the village often the tradition of carrying the torch or flambeaux is passed from father to son as the elder gets on in years. They sometimes have a helper walking beside them just in case. It s a hard and difficult job. The torches are similar in length to a caber and have been soaked for many months to ensure they stay alight. The flambeaux are then followed by many floats in which the local inhabitants deck both the float and themselves out in a variety of colours and costumes. Many are topical political statements. The more whisky that s handed around the waiting crowd the funnier they seem.