Krewe du Vieux was the first Mardi Gras parade I had ever experienced. A guy I had met online (and whose name I cannot recall) finally convinced me to go out with him and for our first date, he wanted to take me to see Krewe du Vieux. Still a little wary, I asked my friend Shalom to meet us down there for the parade. The fellow (let’s call him “Joe”) picked me up at my apartment on Harmony Street and drove excitedly, vibrating, eyes alight with what was in store. His sweaty hand would grip mine at stoplights to get my attention as he described yet another aspect of his favorite parade. Much to my dismay, he also had no qualms about telling me to “try and act like a local” or I wouldn’t be taken seriously.
As the car inched ever closer to our destination, I couldn’t help thinking I had made a gargantuan mistake. Joe was starting to freak me out with his crazy level of anxiety and demanding nature which was never previously evident through text. I heaved a huge sigh of relief when we got out of the car and rushed (he was almost speed-walking) to where we were going to meet Shalom and her husband Kevin — in front of what was the Matador on the corner of Esplanade and Decatur. Joe was practically hopping from foot-to-foot and complaining that we would never “score a good spot” if we were late, even though (as I later discovered) we were only a block from our destination. I tried to encourage him to go ahead and that we would catch up with him later, but he was emphatic about how we might never find the spot without him.
To my great relief, Shalom and Kevin arrived in a few short minutes and we proceeded to the bar of Joe’s choice, Aunt Tiki’s (although it wasn’t Aunt Tiki’s then…does anyone recall it’s former name?). From there my “date” went even further downhill as Joe not only proceeded to ignore me, he drank drinks we all bought for him and never offered up a round and never even offered to buy me a drink!
What saved this evening, you ask? The parade! Krewe du Vieux was so much fun with their sexually explicit costumes, flaunting mammoth phalli and politically incorrect quips. I later learned to appreciate the intimacy of the parade, where the Krewes walk behind the small, horse-drawn floats as opposed to riding superciliously on top. Hands reach out to grasp hands in the crowd, offer a high-five or perhaps a throw while some of the best brass bands in the city set a funky beat for the erratic marchers and watchers to dance in the streets and revel in the beginning of Carnival season.
Regardless of my terribly rude date, it was not difficult to have the time of my life sharing cocktails with my friends and offering up my best “WOOHOOO!” for the KdV. I have only missed one Krewe du Vieux parade since that fateful day…
This year’s theme celebrated the Krewe’s anniversary with the theme “25 Years Wasted” with Don Marshall, Jazz & Heritage Festival Executive Director, as King. I can’t wait ’till next year!