Few cultural institutions could have origins as disparate as high school dance groups, funding Saints season tickets and officially representing a krewe. Dancing troupes have become much more than something to hold your attention between floats. The growing presence of dancing troupes in Carnival parades have become eagerly anticipated attractions with particular throws, themes and even cheering sections. These emerging social clubs have become stewards of Carnival’s racier traditions. The following eight dancing troupes have shared some of what makes them special; read on or ask a member – not while they’re performing, of course – to learn more, including how to become one yourself.
Christina McClasky Duggar, Rickey Lee Wingo, Soofia Khan, Jennifer Wester Clark and Luella Williams
NolaOrganGrinders.com Begun: June 2010 by Christina McClasky Duggar Parading in: Lyons Carnival Club Practice March, Mystic Krewe of Druids, Muses and Tucks Band/music: DJ Fayard Lindsey Look for: The support vehicle, made to look like an old-style organ, was designed by Brennan Steele and built and customized by float builder Richard Valadie. It has a big crank handle on the front, organ pipes on each side and beautiful multi-colored lights all over. Support Group: Monkey Spankers Outside Mardi Gras: Co-hosted a blood drive with the New Orleans Musicians Clinic and Assistance Foundation every year; volunteer work and time to the Jefferson Parish Christmas Tree Project; many nonprofit events throughout the year. For other philanthropic appearances and to book an appearance, contact through website. Joining: Auditions are every two years; learn more at website and Facebook page.
NOLA Cherry Bombs
Jennifer Buuck, Alejandra Salinas-Ernst, Porscha Williams and Kathryn Rose Wood
Begun: 2011 by Aniko Greger Parading in: King Arthur, Muses and Iris; in front of Le Bon Temps Roule between Mid-City and Thoth parades. Band/music: Music with an edgy and fierce vibe; songs with female-driven vocals that are empowering and positive. Support Groups: The Fly Girls and The Bomb Squad (gender-neutral) Outside Mardi Gras: See them in several artists’ music videos, including The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Daria & the Hip Drops, Roar! and Water Seed. Various local and nonprofit events. Each year the group chooses a different nonprofit to benefit. For other philanthropic appearances and to book an appearance, contact through website. Joining: Auditions are held as needed; email email@example.com or message on Facebook page to be put on auditions list.
The Star-Steppin’ Cosmonaughties
Stephanie Stromath and Molly Brackin
Begun: Loosely organized in 2010 by Molly Reid; first parade in ’12 in Pygmailon. Parading in: Pygmalion and Nyx; Krewe de Lune Space Ball on Feb. 24; throughout French Quarter and Marigny on Carnival Day. Band/music: The group favors pop, disco, New Orleans bounce and any tunes with interstellar sass. Look for: Imagery supporting this year’s theme: “Once Upon a Lunarland” Support Group: Satellites; also joined by the Krewe de Lune Revelers Outside Mardi Gras: Krewe of Boo, Molly’s on the Market St. Patrick’s Parade and Anbla Dlo. They host events throughout the year to support a variety of local causes; largest is Lunar Lagniappe (usually held in January). Each year the group chooses a different charity to support; this year 100 percent of funds raised will benefit the ACLU of Louisiana. For other philanthropic appearances and to book an appearance, contact through website. Joining: Must be a member of Krewe de Lune. Meet a member at several networking events throughout the year to learn more.
SIRENS OF NEW ORLEANS
Jennifer Lee, Julie Barecki-Brown, Cara McCarthy and Danielle Richard
Begun: 2010 by Jennifer Lee and Julie Barecki Brown Parading in: Cleopatra, Nyx and Krewe D’Etat Band/music: An iPod, a rocking playlist created to entertain the crowd and a great sound system built into the Nereus. Also, look for small periphery boats. Look for: The main support vehicle: The Nereus. Various branded throws to hand out each year. Most coveted throw is the Message in a Bottle: originally created by Jennifer Lee, these are decorated bottles each created by a member. Support Group: Sailors Outside Mardi Gras: Last year’s main focus was benefiting The New Orleans Family Justice Center and Apex Community Center. For other philanthropic appearances and to book an appearance, contact board through website. Joining: Annual auditions in March/April; look to Facebook page and website after Mardi Gras for more information. Applications for the Sailor Corps open shortly thereafter; must be at least 18.
Monica Anderson, Lyndia Jones, Donielle Novak, Deb Ursin and Carmen Waring
Begun: 2001 by Camille Baldassar Parading in: Thoth, Muses, Nyx and two others TBA Band/music: A variety of recorded music including funk, disco, club and R&B; a signature song is Ernie K-Doe’s “Here come the Girls.” Look for: The “PussyWagon:” a decorated black Hummer support vehicle Support Group: Handlers Outside Mardi Gras: The Pussyfooters’ annual Blush Ball has raised over $100,000 for Metropolitan Center for Women and Children since 2009. For other philanthropic appearances and to book an appearance, contact through website. Joining: Nominations are made by members for available spots; names are picked in a random drawing.
Darrington “Pinot Noir” Anderson, Nick “Costanza” Maggio, Paul “The Long Board” Treuting, Matt “Sweet Baby J” Schiro and Alan “Emil Shabbawitz” Staub
Begun: 2009 by Brett “Slab” Patron; first appearance was as part of the Buddy Diliberto memorial in Saints Super Bowl parade Parading in: Official 610 Stompers Debutante Ball on Feb. 3; Orion in Baton Rouge, Carrollton, Nyx, Hermes, Thoth and Orpheus Support Group: 610 Splits (mainly wives and guys of the Stompers) Outside Mardi Gras: The group appears in almost 100 events a year from parties to conventions, and has partnered with hundreds of charities over its lifetime and given away hundreds of thousands of dollars though their large events. For other philanthropic appearances and to book an appearance, contact through website. Joining: Any man over the age of 21 can audition; auditions are typically held yearly in August. Watch website and social media for details.
Camel Toe Lady Steppers
Ashley Shabankareh, Gia Monteleone, Katy Beh, Jamie MacDonald and Carolyn Lecaro
Begun: Halloween 2003 Parading in: Muses Band/music: The group always marches with a brass band, specifically the Stooges Brass Band. Support Group: Camelbacks Outside Mardi Gras: Krewe of Boo; Camel Toe Lady Steppers’ annual “Toe-Down” to benefit the Roots of Music each year. For other philanthropic appearances and to book an appearance, contact through website. Joining: Watch Facebook page and website for audition information (typically held in May).
Rebecca Sell, Kacie Gurney, Elizabeth Reyna, Jessi Taylor and Anita Oubre
Debuted: Mid-Summer Mardi Gras 2009 by founder Julia McNabb Kaufman Parading in: Pontchartrain, Cleopatra, Tucks and Nyx Band/music: A playlist including many New Orleans artists such as Ernie K-Doe, The Dixie Cups and Allen Toussaint. Look for: A larger-than-life seafoam-green vintage Cadillac. Throws include vintage sunglasses, neckties and medallions. Support Groups: Bun Warmers (general support); Po’Boys (major support); Leftovers (Muffies taking a break or who have retired); Seasoneds (Muffies who have been with the group for over a year); Hot Plates (small group of “Seasoneds” who lead) Outside Mardi Gras: The group performs at many private events and fundraisers throughout the year. For other philanthropic appearances and to book an appearance, contact through website. Joining: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information on becoming a Bun Warmer after Mardi Gras.