Who Dat Rollin' on Dat Float?
Mardi Gras 2010: There's still some time to get out and revel!
By Kate X Messer,
6:53PM, Fri. Feb. 12, 2010
There's nothing like the sound of a parade line-up. Those moments before roll out, when musical mayhem from floats testing PAs bleeds over the bleats of marching bands strutting their stuff on the side streets – with quick over the shoulder glances to see if rival high schools are paying heed to their mighty, mighty jams. It's Mardi Gras 2010, y'all!
This past weekend, I was the guest of Galveston's Krewe of Aquarius and got to ride on their sassy Salute to N'awleans float. (You know we got a lot of "Who Dat!"s.) It was a quick in and out trip, as I raced down Friday, the night before, to make it in time for the Krewe of Banners (Galveston's gay krewe) and Aquarius parties.
Pre-Hurricane Ike, the Banners parties were always held in the Balinese Room. Sadly, the beloved restored club ended up strewn across the Seawall, a victim of Ike's wrath. This year, the party was split between the Pink Dolphin and Club Groove. The evening already felt strange without the glow of the Balinese as the back-up, but the split party at two clubs across town was odd, even for Galveston. The split seemed a bit demographic. The Pink Dolphin teetered with an elbow-to-elbow array of gay Galveston's old guard, while Club Groove was populated with more young people (an increasingly rare commodity on the island these days, it seems) and women. Both shindigs were a blast, having nothing to do with the constant plying of "tuh-kill-yuh" by my gracious (and enabling) party pals (HI, MARY! HI, LEE!). We made it to the Aquarius float barn bash just in time to see the floors being swept in preparation of the next day's roll out.
Morning leapt up like a sparkly lion. I kept the drapes on my Gulf-side room at the noble Hotel Galvez wide open to greet the glorious sunrise. The tequila was kind and gentle considering how indiscreetly I abused her, and equally as confounding, the day could not have been more gorgeous. I raced over to the parade line-up just a block or so off the Seawall.
At about 10am, I realized that my quantity of "throws" was seriously lacking and decided to bring a li'l Mobile, Alabama-style Mardi Gras to the island and went out in search of as many boxes of mini-Moon Pies as I could find. I filled the trunk of my rental with about 50 boxes and zoomed back just in time to get back my awesome parking space wedged between the curb and a float full of young revelers already lubricating the morning. I politely declined their sacred offering of beer and threw them the first Moon Pies of the day.
We rolled later than scheduled. Were we in New Orleans, this would have been no biggie. Late parades are the norm in the Crescent City. But Galveston parades are notoriously prompt – an odd point of pride for the island. There was quite a bit of murmuring as the clock hit 12:10. We rolled sometime between 12:30-:40 and despite our tardiness, were greeted by huge crowds. I've been going to Galveston Mardi Gras parades for the better part of this past decade, and I can't say I've seen a bigger daytime crowd. This is especially touching, post-Ike.
Equally as touching, nay, downright moving, was being on the street as the Ball High band strode by in formation. Aside from boasting my fave team mascot – Tuffy the Tor – this side of Austin High's Mr. Maroo, Ball High has been a big part of the often overlooked aftershock of Hurricane Ike. A significant portion of the Tors student body has not returned to the island, a trauma felt on both sides of the bay.
In that way, Mardi Gras is a truly redemptive holiday. Forever, New Orleans' Mardi Gras will be associated with Katrina as Galveston's with Ike. In both cities, the annual celebrations are watermarks of return and survival.
This year's Mardi Gras season sure went by in a hurry. It feels like just yesterday that I was scrambling around searching the town for a killer King Cake to celebrate the season's commencing on 12th Night (January 6).
This coming Tuesday, Feb. 16 is Fat Tuesday. This year, Mardi Gras s somewhat early (next year's, for example, is March 8), which means a shorter season. But there's still some Mardi Gras left should you wish to head on out to a parade. (Here's some bead catching/tossing tips from a real "pro.")
Personally, we're going to check out Austin's Krewe of Utopia at Maggie Mae's on Saturday and the Krewe of Who Dat at Blu Cafe on Fat Tuesday proper. I recently interviewed crazy Utopia chief Bob Uhler and am expecting nothing short of Bourbon Street bacchanalia. Join us, unless you have a mind to make a last-minute mad dash to Galveston or New Orleans.
Here are some resources for you last minute revelers:
Galveston Mardi Gras Events
Note: All events, parades, etc. are free unless otherwise noted.
Interactive Parade Route Schedule
Parade Schedule 1
Parade Schedule 2
Parade Schedule 3
St. Bernard Parish
Austin's Krewe of Utopia
Krewe of Who Dat
Have a blast, y'all. Let's compare beads and stories of how we got them when we get back.