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THE

Defender Picks

 

VENDREDI

March 24th

Basic Buddhist Meditation

LIFE Yoga, 7AM

An intro course from Zen teacher Thich Thien Tri

 

Book Signing: Robert Wagner

Adler's New Orleans, 11AM

Hollywood legend signs copies of 'I Loved Her in the Movies'

 

New Creations Brass Band

B.M.C., 11am

Local Brass Band brings a mix of standards and new creations

 

Bourbon Festival

Marriot Convention Center, 6:30PM

Day one of the inaugural Bourbon Fest

 

DumbSmart Industries Showcase

The Broad Theater, 7PM

Short film showcase 

 

Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers

Blue Nile 7:30PM

Friday nights with Kermit on Frenchmen 

 

Matisyahu

House of Blues, 8PM

Hebrew hip hop

 

Varla Jean Merman Sings? 

Cafe Istanbul, 8PM

Preview of Merman's new show "Bad Heroine!" 

 

Flogging Molly

Joy Theater, 8:30PM

Celtic punk, feat. Skinny Lister

 

Edwardian Ball Circus Soirée

One Eyed Jacks, 9PM

Artist mixer before Saturday's Edwardian Ball

 

Kanye's Universe

Maple Leaf Bar, 10PM

Chapter Soul hosts a Kanye West dance party

 

Anglo a Go-Go

Bar Redux, 10PM

All-British dance party

 

Relapse 80s/90s Dance Party

Hi-Ho Lounge, 10PM

Party like it's 1999

SAMEDI

March 25th

Brunch Fest

Crescent Park, 10AM

Eat to benefit LA/SPCA

 

Princess, Ponies & Superheroes 

Fair Grounds, 12PM

Family day at the grounds

 

Tank and the Bangas

The Yum Yum, 6PM

NPR faves come home from tour

 

Movie Screening: But I'm a Cheerleader

St. Mark's Church, 6PM

Caravan Cinema screens this Natasha Lyonne comedy

 

Charlie Wilson

Smoothie King Center, 7PM

Feat. Fantasia and Johnny Gill

 

Chris Rock

The Saenger Theatre, 7PM

Comedy superstar brings his "Total Blackout" tour to NOLA

 

Biz Markie

House of Blues, 7PM

80s vs. 90s - decades collide

 

Fleur de Tease

One Eyed Jack's, 8PM

FdT stages "Alice in Wonderland" 

 

Pancakes and Booze Art Show

The Howlin' Wolf, 8PM

NOLA's underground art show, plus free pancakes

 

The Rock and Roll Extravaganza

The Willow, 9PM

Masquerade ball with live music

 

Mod Dance Party

The Circle Bar, 10PM

Sweat to the oldies with DJ Matty

 

Daria & The Hip Drips

Le Bon Temps Roule, 11PM

Free show to move and groove

DIMANCHE

March 26th

Bloody Mary Fest

Howlin' Wolf, 12PM

Over a dozen NOLA spots offer their best bloodies, plus food

 

Alternative Medicine Symposium

Magnolia Yoga Studio, 1PM

Free female-led discussion and open house

 

Red

Playmakers Theater, 2PM

Final staging of drama about painter Mark Rothko

 

Jamie Galloway Crawfish Boil

Maple Leaf Bar, 3PM

5th annual boil commemorating the life of the beloved chef and musician

 

LGBT Spring Fest

Woonderland Production Studios, 3PM

Live music, drinks, water slides, more

 

Music Under the Oaks

Audubon Park, 5PM

LPO Woodwind Quintet performs

 

Palmetto Bug Stompers 

d.b.a., 6PM

Local trad jazz masters

 

Board Game Night

Tubby & Coo's Mid-City  Book Shop, 6PM

Bring games, or join one at the store

 

Hot 8 Brass Band

Howlin’ Wolf Den, 10PM

Mix of brass standards and funky covers

 

Pat Casey & the New Sound

Spotted Cat, 10PM

Boundary pushing fusion jazz

 

Joe Krown Trio

Maple Leaf, 10PM

Krown on the B3 with Russell Batiste and Walter “Wolfman” Washington


Carrying the Torch

Flambeau Barers Shed Light on Early Mardi Gras Traditions



Between the colorful floats and raucous marching bands, a humbler – yet no less staid – Mardi Gras tradition slips between the cracks in the marching order. Keepers of the light are known to lead the way for those lost in the dark and that is a perfect way to describe a flambeau carrier.

 

 

They carry large, wooden poles with torches backed by stainless steel high above. In the original New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations, the flambeau

were carried by slaves and free people of color alongside the floats. They
lit the way for the parade before streetlights.

 

Though they had a utilitarian function, the addition of the flambeau also

had a social element: to incorporate blacks in what was considered a white
carnival. The undertones have lead to much debate about continuing the
tradition, even though the way forward is well lit.

 

To many people, the tradition remains important, and helps keep the Mardi

Gras parades authentic. What many people fail to realize is that many
carriers have passed this tradition down for generations. Like many things
that never go out of style, it is also a great way to make some extra
money.

 

Flambeau carriers were never forced to be carriers. They were always paid.

Originally they were paid $1.50. After World War II, the price was raised
to $2.00. Though the carriers were already getting paid 50 cents more than
prewar prices, they wanted to increase the pay to 5.00. This caused a problem for many of the parades. It came to a point that the parades had to have fewer flambeau, and hire white men to carry them.

 

Eventually, the problems was resolved, and the flambeau were back alongside the floats. The pay is much higher these days and carriers can make up to $ 300 or $ 400 from the tips received from paradegoers.

 

“It was a hell of a lot of fun and I always made at least a $100. It was really tiring though,” said Matt ‘Slyfox’ J Thomas, a local New Orleans resident who happened upon being a flambeau carrier. “I never talked to anyone about being a carrier. It’s just something you find out about. I just went to the beginning of the parade route a few hours before the parade started and they gave me a number and a flambeau.”

 

Though Thomas never talked to anyone directly there are people out there who specifically recruit for flambeau carriers. Barry Donahue is a flambeau coordinator for three parades: Chaos, Proteus, and D’etat. Donahue has been a flambeau coordinator for the past 15-20 years and is very opinionated on how the carriers should act in the parades.

 

“New-line krewes have them dancing and twirling the flambeau, and that is the not the main idea. We want to show people what it was like in the 1800s,” states Donahue. “Old- line krewes have the carriers stand beside and light the floats like it was back in the 1800s.”

 

Old-line krewe refers to the original krewes of Mardi Gras, while new-line or super krewes refers to the newer krewes. Not all krewes have flambeaux but they are looking to add them.  Most krewes own their flambeaux but a few rent from the other krewes. Proteus actually uses the original flambeaux in which the burners used are from streetlights.

 

Nowadays, the torches are kept lit by propane, as opposed to kerosene in times gone by. They also are a lot safer and do not drip like the old ones. The flambeaux have injured no carriers or tourist. It used to be the carriers wore white, hooded gowns gowns called Dominos to protect from the flame and catch the soot from the flambeau. Proteus and Chaos have some of their carriers where the domino in white, while Orpheus have their carriers wear red dominos.

 

Even though flambeau carriers started out as slaves and free people of color, it has become more of a mixed tradition. Today, 75 percent of the carriers had previous ancestors who were carriers, and continue the tradition. But anyone can become a carrier. Carriers vary from high school coaches, ROTC members, students, to the unemployed. Some carriers travel from all over the country just to have the honor of carrying a flambeau. People who do it enjoy it because they get to experience Mardi Gras in a different way and be part of something that has been going on for centuries.

 

And even with the parades less than three weeks away, the ranks of flambeau aren't even full yet for this year. Donahue said is still looking for carriers for the parades he manages. Anyone is welcome to meet at the corner of Camp and Julia for Proteus and Chaos around 3 pm and at Jefferson and Magazine at the same time for D’etat.

 

“We want tourists to see and remember where Mardi Gras comes from. One day we will get back to the traditional way of carrying flambeau,”  Donahue said. However, one can say that not only tourists need to see and remember where Mardi Gras comes from. Seeing the parades pass by so many times, native New Orleanians could use a reminder as well.

Are those parades the only

Are those parades the only ones looking for flambeaux, or are there others?

I have witnessed the lighting

I have witnessed the lighting of the lights the flambeau cordnator is not a white man and is a very nice guy

Barry Donahue is a flambeau

Barry Donahue is a flambeau coordinator for three parades: Chaos, Proteus, and D’etat. Donahue has been a flambeau coordinator for the past 15-20 years and is very opinionated on how the carriers should act in the parades.

“New-line krewes have them dancing and twirling the flambeau, and that is the not the main idea. We want to show people what it was like in the 1800s,” states Donahue. “Old- line krewes have the carriers stand beside and light the floats like it was back in the 1800s.”

***

Translation, Mr. Donahue is an uptight white dude who wants black folks to know their place and act as they are told.

I'm sure there are plenty of other ways he would like to show people what life was like in the 1800's.

One last thing, please hand the flambeau money instead of throwing it to them, that is unless black folks scrounging for change is another quaint old timey tradition that needs to be carried on.

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Contributors:

Evan Z.E. Hammond, Dead Huey, Andrew Smith

Listings Editor


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