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Arts & Culture

Mardi Gras Lagniappe: Dance Troupes and Marching Clubs

Dance troupes and parade clubs are just a couple of the unique groups that make up Mardi Gras parades; these are the groups to look out for in 2014.

Mardi Gras parades are full of floats, high school marching bands, cheer teams, and many other entertaining groups, including dance troupes and marching clubs. These groups are an integral part of Carnival season and after joining a dance troupe myself this year, I can attest that there is something just so New Orleanian about every aspect of being in one. The costumes, (excessive amounts of) glitter, colorful wigs, and the desire to make the parade-goers smile, laugh, and dance with you – it’s addicting! Everyone involved behind the scenes of Mardi Gras is definitely working hard to make sure you have an enjoyable time at the parade. Something that’s also really beautiful about these organizations is that most, if not all, are active within the community and give back by volunteering or raising money for various causes.  Here are some groups to keep an eye out for this season, and the New Orleans Mardi Gras parades you can find them in.

The Organ Grinders new orleans
The Organ Grinders (Photo by Jordan Koppens)

Mardi Gras Dance Troupes and Marching Clubs

Organ Grinders: These hardworking “sexah monkeys” are known for non-stop dancing throughout parades. Their colors are blue and gold and you can look out for them this year in Sparta, Nyx, Tucks, and Orpheus.

Camel Toe Lady Steppers: Founded in 2003, these ladies march exclusively in Muses. They are the only female group that marches with a brass band, and they pick a local “celebrity” Queen every year – this year, it is drag queen Princess Stephanie.

Bearded Oysters: These girls are accompanied by men dressed up in chef costumes who are known as their “oyster shuckers.”  They don’t do choreographed dances, but I have seen them individually shake it. They’re in Muses and Oak this year.

Muff-A-LottasThese girls embody the look of Southern sweetness (I love their mint green skirts!) and you can catch them this year in Nyx, Tucks, and Orpheus.

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The Muffalottas in all their Mardi Gras glory (Photo courtesy of themuffalottas.com)

Big Easy Rollergirls: These fabulously strong women are the city’s only official all-female flat track roller derby league. They’ll be in Muses this year and possibly others, so keep your eyes peeled.

NOLA Cherry BombsYou’ll know these girls by their super-fun red tutus! They’ll be strutting their stuff in King Arthur, Nyx, and Muses.

Krewe of the Rolling ElviThis is a group of men all dressed like Elvis Presley, who roll along during parades on their scooters. They will stop every so often to flirt with the crowd and give away their unique throws. Catch them in Muses and Iris.

610 Stompers: Once you’ve seen these “ordinary men with extraordinary moves,” you won’t ever forget them. They’ll be wearing red jackets and blue shorts and giving it their all. They’ll be in Nyx, Thoth, and Orpheus.

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The 610 Stompers dancing their way down the parade route (Photo by Susan Whelan)

PussyfootersThese women are now actually a non-profit organization and are very active in the New Orleans community. New members must be sponsored by an active member to join. Look out for them in Carrollton, Nyx, Muses, Thoth, and Orpheus.

The Chorus Girl ProjectThis vintage dance project is a very recent addition to the scene and was inspired by the early 20th century chorus line. They will be in Pygmalion this year.

The Sirens of New OrleansThis is a pretty big group with over 80 members. I love their colorful wigs and mermaid-like style of costumes. They will be in Nyx and Orpheus this year.

Disco AmigosIt goes without saying you can expect a lot of disco moves from this co-ed group. They’ll be in Cleopatra, Nyx, Tucks, and Orpheus.

Disco Amigos new orleans
Disco Amigos (Photo by Sean Farley)

Star-Steppin’ CosmonaughtiesThese “celestial bodies in motion” are the official dance team of Krewe de Lune and will be in Pygmalion and Nyx.

Nyxettes: A “New York-style group” of ladies that debut this year in Nyx. They will also be in Iris, Thoth, and Zulu.

The Gris Gris Strut: This is a group of high energy, professional dancers who are accompanied by a flag corp and marching band. You can watch them in King Arthur, Druids, d’Etat, and Thoth.

Roux La LaThese ladies costume and choreograph to a different theme each year, and will be in Sparta, Nyx, and Thoth this season.

Then there are the more elusive groups – the ones I’ve heard about and maybe even seen once or twice — groups like The Dead Rock Stars, Baby Dolls, and Candy Girls.  There are bound to be more than this, but perhaps the allure of Carnival is just that: the impossibility of defining all of the things that make it so magical.

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