What would Mardi Gras be without its parades? And what would Mardi Gras parades be without it sassy, sequined, irreverent dance troupes and marching clubs? In the past few years, DYI marching groups have been popping up all over. It’s a great way to be a part of Mardi Gras without the expense of joining a big krewe. The best of the best groups like to do it up big. Big costumes, big color, big hair, big glitter. Watch for these great groups on the parade route:
Alter Egos Steppers – The Alter Egos first paraded in 2017. They are famous for purple wigs and for doing good things for the community.
Amazons – To represent a certain “ferocity of spirit and soul,” the Amazons, some of whom are cancer survivors, don’t smile on their parade route. They don warrior tunics and breast armor, and, along with the Scythians (their male supporters), they perform formations during marches with their swords.
Amelia EarHawts Cabin Krewe – This dance group was founded in in 2014, inspired by the tragic female aviation pioneer who spent some of her last days at Lakefront Airport in New Orleans. They take off down the street in old-time flight attendant outfits.
Bearded Oysters – No, New Orleans hasn’t got to the point where we have real oysters dancing down the street, but we do have this girls’ troupe that’s more into shaking and wooing than any kind of stilted choreography. Men are also involved, dressed up as chefs and called “Oyster Shuckers.”
Black Storyville Baby Dolls – Founded in 2014,this group throws black roses to honor the women who costumed and paraded in the African-American part of New Orleans’ red-light district in 1912. They also throw cigars which the first dolls smoked openly in public.Joining them on the route are the “Basin Street Characters.”
Big Easy Rollergirls – What Fat Tuesday parade would be complete without New Orleans’ only professional roller derby team? The girls are ready to put on a jam – and maybe even challenge you to a match race!
Box of Wine – The Box of Wine marching parade alerts revelers that Bacchus is ready to roll. This group marches ahead of Bacchus dispensing box wine along the way.
Camel Toe Lady Steppers – The Camel Toe Lady Steppers took their name from an unfortunate aspect of some majorette costumes ordered through the mail. Past themes have included Incogni-TOE, Toe-Bots, Ma-Toe-Dors, Camel Toe Cha Cha, Toes in Da Nile, and Nasty Women: Camel Toe World Tour.
The Companionettes – Based loosely on Inara from the science fiction show "Firefly,” this troupe appears in the Chewbacchus parade to live music from the Browncoat Brass. They’ve been around since 2015.
Crescent City Dames – Since 2012, the Crescent City Dames have created their own hand-beaded corsets. In the past, themes have included “Women of Power,” “The Holidays” and “Toasting the Cocktail.” They sashay annually on theFriday before Mardi Gras in the French Quarter.
The Dance Connection – This 40+ year old group’s motto is “UNITY…Though dance and Friendship.” Established in 1979, TDC was the first troupe to use a mobile sound system.
Dames de Perlage – This non-dancing dance group prides itself on bead work: hand-crafted corsets, headdresses and bustles. They march with the Big Fun Brass Band.
Dictator's Dancin' Darlings – The satirical male Darlings can be found in Krewe d’Etat every year. In past years they have dressed as inattentive Vatican police, North Korean despots, and paunchy Saints defensive coaches.
Disco Amigos – Disco will never die if this krewe has anything to say about it.Founded in 2012, this group is “Saturday Night Live” does “Saturday Night Fever.” They host a rolling "Disco Train" party during each parade that allows non-members to jump in.
El Lucha Krewe – Thisgroup, which started in 2013 as part of the Krewe of Freret, is devoted to Mexican pro wrestling. You’ve got to see it to believe it.
Golddigger Babydolls – The dancing group costumes in brightly colored little girl dresses with bloomers and bonnets. It’s a reprisal of a group that paraded in the 1930s.
Krewe of the Rolling Elvi – This group has two goals. Honor the memory of the King and entertain parade revelers. They succeed on both levels. Dozens of sequin clad men riding around on scooters is a site you don't want to miss.
Jailhouse Rockers – This krewe is a spin-off of the popular Krewe of the Rolling Elvi. Thank you, thank you, thank you very much for applauding them on the parade route.
Krewe des Fleurs – This group bloomed for the first time in 2016. Each year, they model themselves on a different flower.
Krewe of King James: Super Bad Sex Machine Strollers – This co-ed groupmarches every year in tribute to James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. Among other things, they throw hand-decorated 45 vinyl records.
KOE – Formed in 1998 by a couple of “netheads”, KOE was the first organized Internet-based krewe. Members from all over the US (and some from foreign countries) come each year to party for a week at Mardi Gras with their Mardi Gras family. KOE festivities culminate with a parade which gathers in front of St. Louis Cathedral on Mardi Gras morning and parades through the French Quarter. Members costume following a yearly theme and the parade is accompanied by Treme Brass Band.
Laissez Boys – They don’t dance or march but, in the true spirit of Mardi Gras this krewe rolls. Watch for their motorized Lazy Boys on the parade route. You’ll have a new appreciation for that beat-up recliner in your parents living room. In fact, you’ll find yourself mumbling, “I need one of those.” Photo by Jennifer Oliver.
Leijorettes – Since 2014, the Leijorettes have paraded in memory of Princess Leia from Star Wars. You can spy them, not in a galaxy far far way, but right here in New Orleans at the Chewbacchus parade.
Mande Milkshakers – This Mandeville group costumes as sexy 1950s housewives.
Merry Antoinettes – Let them eat king cake!Formed in 2016, the Antoinettes celebrate the doomed French queen, Marie Antoinette. You’ll find them in the Krewedelusion parade.
Muff-a-Lottas – Named after New Orleans’ famous sandwich the muffuletta, this groupdresses like feisty 1950s diner waitresses in saddle shoes and short skirts. They only dance to oldies with a New Orleans connection – tunes from Ernie K Doe, Irma Thomas, Fats Domino, The Dixie Cups, Shirley Ellis, and so on! They throw scarves, cat-eye sunglasses and special Muff-A-Lotta beads.
N'awlins Nymphs – Since 2012, the Nymphs have been a part of the Krewe d’Etat parade. If you like satire, you can’t miss this one.
New Orleans Baby Doll Ladies – This group, founded in 2005, feels a deep connection to the city’s first all-female marching groups. In 2016, they were given a slot of their own in the St. Charles Avenue procession in front of the Zulu.
NOLA Cherry Bombs – In the 1976 Runaways hit “Cherry Bomb,” Cherie Currie sang, “Down the street, I’m the girl next door; I’m the fox you’ve been waiting for.” That pretty much sums up these modern-day Cherry Bombs, purveyors of hardcore dance and big-time titillation. They are a welcome addition to any parade.
NOLA Chorus Girls – This troupe of fabulous flappers celebrates the jazz-age. Formed in 2011, they perform in just one parade every year.
NOLA Jewels – Like the NOLA Chorus Girls, this group has a flapper theme. They were founded in 2017.
NOLA Nyxettes – With their tuxes, tails and top hats, this group is reminiscent of the Radio City Rockettes. Look for them in, surprise, Nyx.
NOLA Showgirls –Those ostrich-feather fans belong to the NOLA Showgirls who add a little Las Vegas glamour to parade route (their Sunset Strip.)They’ve appeared in several TV shows, movies and commercials.
Organ Grinders – Inspired by Prince’s “Violet the Organ Grinder,” these female dancers wear fezzes and are attended by male “Monkey Spankers.”
Oui Dats – The big-haired Oui Dats were founded in 2014. Like the Merry Antoinettes, they celebrate the French queen (if she’d worked in Storyville).Their motto is “Classy, Sassy, and a little Smarta**y.”
Petty Betties – This baseball bat carrying troupe, calls themselves the “pettiest marching troupe to walk the streets of New Orleans.” They were formed in 2016 and first paraded in 2018.
Prima Donnas – Founded in 2008,this group of lovelies can be found in the French Quarter on the Friday before Mardi Gras.
Pussyfooters – This all-women's marching club encourages self-confidence and self-respect via performance. The Pussyfooters are a staple on the Mardi Gras parade scene performing in multiple parades, fundraisers and special events year-round. Members wear cotton candy-colored wigs, lace-up boustieres and white boots. You must be at least 30 years old to be a Pussyfooter.
Ritmeaux Krewe – Their name of the first every Latin dance marching group is a play on the Spanish word for rhythm (ritmo) with a Louisiana twist. Since 2016, the marching club's mission has been “to promote Hispanic/Latino heritage through Latin dance and music."
Roux La La – Founded in 2009, this group get its name from the roux (a base for gumbo). According to their website, they are “New Orleans’ official swamp steppin’, booty shakin’, booze guzzlin’, pot stirrin’, GLITTER IN YOUR FACE female dance troupe. Their aim is to “better our community one sequin at a time.”
Sirens of New Orleans – Since2010, the dancing mermaids and the Sailor Corp have danced the entire route of every parade they’ve been in, tossing their signature decorated “message in a bottle.”
610 Stompers – These “Ordinary Men with Extraordinary Moves”, have become world-famous since their founding in 2009, the year the Saints made their very first Super Bowl appearance. They’ve performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade at the Kentucky Derby.
The Streetcar Strutters – This group rolled down St. Charles Avenue for the first time in 2017. Their group's green and gold costumes feature hand-decorated conductor caps.
TAP DAT – Established in 2008, TAP DAT wears black and gold costumes and tap dances their way into Mardi Gras history every year.
Every marching group in New Orleans is worth a second – and third – look. Get your camera ready when you see one coming up the street.