Gotta tell ya, best weekend. No really, I sometimes forget how great Mardi Gras is until is actually rolls around, and this stuff just takes the (king) cake. FRIDAY: NOMA had an event around Becoming Artfully AWARE with performances by the Mardi Gras Indian tribe, the Guardians of the Flame, plus Michael Watson, musical director of Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, and the New Orleans Dance Collective. SATURDAY: Krewe du Vieux rolled in the Quarter Saturday night through a whole mess of really excited people (if you’ve watched Treme at all, it’s the parade that John Goodman was part of with the sub-krewe Mystic Krewe of Spermes). SUNDAY: Got to spend the day in a stunning room trimmed with laughing and wonderful folks painting bags of Zulu coconuts to be handed off of the parade floats on Mardi Gras Day.
Seriously such a great weekend stuffed full of people with which I feel blessed to spend time. And, in honor of the (coco)nuttiest krewe in town, I wanted to get some Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club nails put on. Still dinking around in acrylic, I added a (very naked, oh my!) coconut plus some Zulu king faces and the Z with the zebra print behind it.
Here’s a bit of wiki for you on Zulu so that I don’t mangle the basics (again, if you watched Treme at all you’ll remember this krewe for their blackface and bush wigs):
The Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club (founded 1916) is a Carnival Krewe in New Orleans, Louisiana which puts on the Zulu parade each Mardi Gras Day. Zulu is New Orleans’ largest predominantly African American carnival organization known for its blackfaced krewe members wearing grass skirts and its unique throw of hand-painted coconuts.
Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club is well known to parade goers for throwing coconuts, called the ‘Golden Nugget’, to the crowd. In the early 1900s, other parading organizations threw fancy glass necklaces that were handmade and expensive. The working men of Zulu could not afford expensive treats, but still wanted to give a special prize to lucky parade goers. The men decided to purchase coconuts from the French Market because they were unique and inexpensive. Painted and adorned coconuts became popular with the club starting in the late 1940s. In 1987, the organization was unable to renew its insurance coverage. Mounting lawsuits stemming from coconut related injuries, forced a halt to the longstanding tradition of throwing coconuts. In 1988, Governor Edwin W. Edwards signed Louisiana State Bill #SB188, the “Coconut Bill”, into law removing liability from injuries resulting from a coconut – enabling the tradition to resume.
Nola.com has a good Q&A piece on them too. Also, to clarify something (because I’m actually getting traffic to this site from searches for stuff like “seeing boobs for beads”) — that hype is a total construct and not how you actually get beads in this town. Well okay, there’s an exception: Bourbon Street. That drag embraces the cliche of drunk tourists and people willing to spend way too much money to stand on a balcony and throw beads/taunt drunk girls into pulling up their shirts. That’s not the local way. If you want beads, you go to any of the parades (because they’re rolling damn near every day), throw your arm up in the air and holler “throw me somethin’ mister/sister!” and boom, you’ve got yourself some cheap plastic junk. Bring a kid and you’re going to get every possible throw there is. Dress up in a costume like Cookie Monster and drunk people on the float are going to take unpacked bags full of beads (sometimes a good 8 pounds of plastic) and aim for your fluffy head. Point is: keep your boobies under wraps ladies, you’re better than that and can get Mardi Gras beads without losing your dignity.