They say you are never prepared for your first Mardi Gras, and I would say that there was never a truer statement in the universe. New Orleans is on a whole other level on a normal day. It’s one of those cities that leaves you breathless with excitement. Music drifts through the streets, the smell of fresh beignets lingers in the air, and mystery is around every corner. It really is an amazing place, but during Mardi Gras it’s another planet.
It’s always a struggle to match schedules for a trip, but somehow a Mardi Gras miracle occurred and my girls and I all got off for our little New Orleans vacay. We decided to meet in NOLA at the airport, because we were coming from all over. Three of us from Charlotte. One from Philly. One from Pheonix. One hodgepodge of girls ready for some good, old-fashioned fun. Four of us got to The Big Easy early, so we ubered to our little apartment on Decatur street, (literally smack freaking dab in the middle of everything) and it was a castle. Air BNB y’all is the way to go. You pay a fraction of the price of a hotel and you get a whole home! It blows my mind every time.
We don’t believe in wasting any time so we mixed up a little magic 😉 and we took to the streets. The anticipation was riveting. Beads flying through the air. Colorful, shining floats rolling through the French Quarter with men and women throwing out trinkets to the special people deemed most worthy. I am not going to lie, I didn’t think I would get caught up in all of that madness, but before the end of the night my voice was nearly gone and I had over 60 beads hanging around my neck. And if you are allowing yourself to think, “what could she have possibly done for all those beads?” Shame on you! I’m a classy gall. Now if they had been throwing keys to a Ferrari, or million dollar checks…. well my class may have just gone right out the window. Just kidding! Or am I? You will never know.
Somehow… I have no clue how… Mardi Gras nights tend to turn into Mardi Gras mornings. It was getting pretty late after the parades, so we sought out what I like to call fifth meal (one level past Taco Bell’s fourth meal) and we headed to our favorite New Orleans hotspot, Funky 544. The later the night got the more treacherous the street got. The ground was coated with beads of all shapes and sizes, because at MG there is only one rule that you never break: don’t pick up the beads! You have to catch your beads. If they fall to the ground they belong to the city. Some people who obviously failed to have their wheatties for breakfast kept picking up those nasty beads… I was just shaking my head thinking, “now y’all just desperate.”
Because of the bed of wet beads on the ground, It was a real struggle just getting to Funky 544; slipping was almost inevitable. By some miracle we made it in one piece, and I very quickly realized that the bead booby traps were not the only thing we had to worry about. We were standing in line waiting to get into the club when our little Coco spotted someone trying to cut in line. Me.. I am not into confrontation. In fact I will avoid it at all costs. Coco on the other hand, is an advocate for all things right, and fair, and decided she should promptly let the woman know where the line started. Let’s just say that lady was #1) very intoxicated #2) not very happy with us. She started yelling at her friends, “Girllllllll! Did you hear what this little girl just said to me!” “She did not just say that to me!” “She diiiiid not just say THAT to ME.” At that point I was pretty much rolling up my sleeves thinking, “My lord, Coco and I are going to have to fight these girls.” There I was getting mentally prepared to bring forth my inner Rocky and the angel of a bouncer finally let us into the club. Guess who danced with us all night long? Girllllll I’ll give you one guess! I never saw that one coming, but we danced in the same huddle with those girls all night long.
The night was wrapping up when Abby, the “universal friend finder” of our group signed us and two guys (who she had literally just met!) up for karaoke. I have had only one rule in life ever since Mr. Wilbur made me get up in front of the whole class in the 2nd grade and sing because, “your sister can sing, so why shouldn’t you be able to….” That one rule is: I DONT SING IN PUBLIC. Well, in some cases rules are meant to be broken, and I found myself on stage with Abby, Coco, Danielle, and Patrick (the first keyboard player in the history of Spice Girls music) belting out If you Wanna Be My Lover. That was definitely a YOLO moment. And also a never again moment.
The trip only kept getting better from that point on. Abby made friends with a Voodoo priest, of course she would make friends with a voodoo priest. Danielle caught me a lucky Zulu coconut, though I keep rubbing the dang thing like a genie lamp and all I seem to be having is bad luck. Coco and I ate our fill of Jambalaya and beignets aka: Manna from heaven, and Kayla was finally initiated into our travel group. Welcome to the crazy Kayla! You won’t regret it.
I think Mardi Gras gets a bad rep sometimes because of all the crazy things that go on there, but in my opinion I think it’s a must-have experience at least once in your life. The food is to die for, I am still having lovely dreams of crawfish nachos and poboys of every shape, size, and color. Mmmm lord have mercy – you can’t get any better than a New Orleans poboy. The parades are absolutely beautiful and so exciting. The night parades of the Krewes Proteus and Orpheus were probably my favorites. They didn’t throw out the biggest prizes, but the floats just dazzled against the night sky. Altogether, I loved every minute of our time in the jazz city, and I would say that if you stay safe, smart, and alert Mardi Gras can be an incredible experience. I know it was for me!
Until next time!