I think about it every day, and frequently dream about it. It wasn’t just the music, food, art and architecture – the picturesque things you can put on a postcard, but it was mostly the way it made me feel.
There I was so free and happy. At home. At peace. I was no longer alone, or the odd one out, for my love of sparkle and unapologetic flamboyance. There, in the city of Mardi Gras, shiny and bright is celebrated, embraced and a way-of-life. The city taught me so much about who I am, body acceptance, and that feeling of finding your place in the world.
I strive every day to do NOLA proud, to be an embodiment of the philosophies and lessons that the many generous, kind, inspiring and friendly people that I met bestowed onto me – walk strong and tall, love yourself, celebrate life, make eye contact, be kind, give compliments, and smile and dance at every opportunity life provides.
It’s Mardi Gras season over there right now. Last night I was off to see a NZ version of the New Orlean Brass Band, the Richter City Rebels. I knew it wasn’t quite going to be the same as dancing down Frenchman Street at midnight. But I was excited to have the beats of New Orleans in the air and to dance to for the night.
So in tribute to my beloved, the night called for an outfit to do the Mardi Gras proud:
A leopard print swing dress that does wonders for a waist, but has the added benefits of deep pockets to hold a nights worth of necessities, allowing for maximum dance freedom. The night I wore this dress in New Orleans, I danced to the Hot 8 Brass Band, was serenaded for 15 minutes by a trumpet player, and got that marriage proposal. So what else was I going to wear?!
One of my largest flower crowns on my head, just incase there was any doubt that I meant Serious Business.
Hair down, teased, wild and free, ready to feel the breeze, sweat and glitter through it.
Drag glitter on my face, purchased at a burlesque show on my travels.
My trusty Tatty Devine nameplate necklace.
And my new favourite, light, white converse on my feet to ensure I could wiggle and groove all night long in comfort.
My chubby upper arms were out, proud, and cool on the hot summers night – just how they were in NOLA – such a relief not having to worry about cardigans or jackets.
A Mardi Gras Queen in our little town.
The band may not have been the Hot 8, there was no serenading nor marriage proposals to be had, and I was definitely the sparkly odd-one-out in a room full of chequered shirts and tank tops – but I danced, twirled and strutted until the wee-hours.
Just doing what I can to live the New Orleans way, each and every day.
Finally, here’s a incredibly joyful Mardi Gras playlist put together by Arcade Fire, who live in, and love, the city. Now go dance!
DRESS: Pin Up Girl Clothing
FLOWER CROWN: So Long Marianne
NECKLACE: Tatty Devine
LIPSTICK: Colour Pop Ultra Matte in Soufflé