Krewe du Vieux pokes fun at current events
Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:01
For some, coming home from a Mardi Gras parade with a lifetime supply of tampons and condoms might be a shock. Not to Alex Ward, mass communication junior, who has watched Krewe du Vieux and all its tongue-in-cheek themes for the past three years.
“Krewe du Vieux is the only parade I see during Mardi Gras,” Ward said.
Now when Ward sees a float that seems “to be making the Superdome into some kind of sexual organ,” she laughs.
Others agree. “The first time I went, I thought it was disgusting — in only the best way,” Noah Walker, political science junior, said.Krewe du Vieux, the only famously x-rated foot parade in the French Quarter, has been kicking off carnival since 1987.
This year the krewe rolled early on Jan. 19 — one Saturday before tradition due to New Orleans hosting Super Bowl XLVII.
The theme reflected just that: “Krewe du Vieux Comes Early.”
Krewe du Vieux is a night parade compiled of 17 sub-krewes and 19 brass bands parading from Marigny through the French Quarter.
The parade poked fun at recent social and political events, from the changes at the Times-Picayune to the Super Bowl invading New Orleans’ carnival.
This year’s sub-krewe themes ranged from “Times Prickayune Fails to Deliver,” “Black and White and Dead all Over” to “Superhole XLVAG.”
The real message of the parade may slip past some who get stuck on the bawdy delivery. Float imagery of Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, being consumed by a giant genital is intended to have deeper meaning than what’s presented at face value.
“Our krewe themes and floats use sexual imagery and humor as a vehicle for political satire and expression, but by no means are they the sole focus of our message,” sociology professor and member of the Krewe du Vieux sub-krewe, Krewe of Underwear, Anthony Ladd said.
The krewe maintains that Krewe du Vieux represents, “the original Parisian tradition of the peasants and the common people walking through the streets, thumbing
their nose at the rich and powerful, shouting out bawdy social and political commentary,” Ladd said.
“You might want to leave the kids at home. It’s an x-rated parade in some respects, but it’s not distasteful,” Ladd said. “We try hard to walk the line between cultural literacy and (what some might see as) pornography carefully.”
Ladd has been a member of the Krewe of Underwear for over 20 years, joining in 1989 by invitation
of other Loyola professors.
“I’ve just loved it,” Ladd said. “It makes me feel extremely connected to one of the most important cultural events and iconic symbols of New Orleans.”
The Krewe of Underwear joined the parade with the theme of the “NFL Penetrates Carnival.”
“The major theme that our sub-krewe (“The Krewe of Underwear”) explored this year is the intrusion of the NFL and Superbowl into the middle of the Carnival season, literally dividing it into two phases,” Ladd said.
“Carnival has had many people wanting to commercialize it for many years, so that’s not a new debate in New Orleans,” Ladd said. “But many of us feel like the Superbowl disrupting carnival this year represents another move in that direction that sells out our culture.”
Krewe du Vieux “always surprises me, but I’m never shocked,” Colleen Mayfield, New Orleans native and music industry studies junior, said.
“It’s what Mardi Gras is all about; just making political statements, talking about social issues and making fun of everything,” Mayfield said.
Krewe du Vieux is “very individualized - especially when you compare it to the second rate, amusement park on wheels that the other Mardi Gras floats seem to be,” Ward said.
“It’s the first parade; it makes you feel like the season’s unfolding,” Walker said.
Lauren Irwin can be reached at email@example.com