Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 21, 2019 / Helena Ball
I m still working off that hangover. Winding Down With Rex and Comus After all the revelry of the Carnival season and the events leading up to it Mardi Gras night has become a sacred "restful" institution in my house. Like a runner who has passed the finish line of a massive marathon I offer those weary exhausted souls one last hoorah before Ash Wednesday begins. With a huge pot of red beans and rice multiple boxes of Popeye s Chicken ("Ain t no pawty like a popeyes pawty y all") and the last remaining crumbs of king cake my "tribe" gathers at 7pm on Mardi Gras night for the viewing of The Rex/Comus Ball on WYES. (*details of the Rex/Comus drinking game will not be discussed in this article. Thanks ~Mr. Credo).
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.
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.