My secret life has me as a member of the Sirens of New Orleans Dance Krewe
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“If you go to New Orleans (pronounced Orleens in the song), you ought a go see the Mardi Gras.” This song by Professor Longhair is played countless times during the carnival season. And if you go to New Orleans during Carnival, you may catch me with my dance krewe (this is how we spell crew in reference to parades and marching groups), The Sirens of New Orleans. We are a dance group formed ten years ago not long after Hurricane Katrina decimated the city and region in August of 2005. A number of dance groups sprouted up after Katrina and most remain today. Formed mainly as a means to socialize and expand social circles, these dance groups have become some of the most formidable fundraisers and philanthropic organizations in the city. Some of you may recognize the 610 Stompers from their now two time appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They are hard to miss considering they consist of a large number of grown men with red satin jackets, powder blue shorts, and mustaches. All of the dance groups have taken on their own identity and are recognized throughout the city by look and by name.
My group, The Sirens, are mermaids, sailors and pirates. The mermaids are the dancers and the sailors and pirates are the helpers who walk with the group to keep the mermaids hydrated, work crowd control, and keep the dancers safe from loose beads and other trash that may trip them up. This is me before one of our parades this season, which is my fourth season with the group.
I myself take on the sailor persona and had fun this year walking at the back of the group and interacting with the crowd as we passed by. We do have throws as any krewe has. If unfamiliar, throws are trinkets and other items thrown by the krewes and members on floats, some more coveted than others. Our coveted throw is the Message in a Bottle. Each member creates their own bottles covering the plain clear plastic bottles with any number of accents. My personal favorite is glitter, sequins, and rhinestones. The Message in a Bottle also contains a message handwritten by the member so that each one is unique with both decoration and sentiment. This year for our tenth anniversary, two members took the time to hand decorate 1,000 bottles between them. This is of course on top of all of the other members’ contributions. Some of my Message in a Bottle contributions are pictured here. The easiest way to catch one of these coveted throws is to make a creative sign that will catch our attention.
Now, with our current state of affairs, the dance krewes have stepped up in other ways to help our community. Our group in particular accepted donations to drop off meals for healthcare workers. Other members using their costume making skills have used those talents for mask making. Even more groups have held online dance parties to help everyone stay sane during this crazy time. One group in particular, the Organ Grinders, holds an annual blood drive that will become more needed than ever this year. Once this time ends and the city opens back up to visitors, we hope you come to New Orleans to see the Mardi Gras. Just maybe you will see me and my Sirens sisters making our way down St. Charles Avenue as part of your Mardi Gras entertainment.
Authored by Carly Pigg
Coordinator for Grants and Development
LSU Health New Orleans School of Nursing