Monday, January 23, 2012

Dear Mardi Gras, Dallas Needs Lagniappe

For some reason, DFW can support an attendance of 100,000+ for its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, but it seems that Dallasites can’t wrap their heads around the concept of Mardi Gras. 

For several years now Dallas has tried in vain to get a Mardi Gras-style parade going. My wife and I have been to N’awlins many times for Mardi Gras and we attended Dallas’ 2009 “Mystiqal” parade, which wrapped around Victory park, and the 2010 “Mardi Gras Texas Style” parade that went down Main Street and ended up in the West End. The latter seemed to have a looser structure and felt more like New Orleans than the first, but that was the end of Dallas parades! What the hell? Even Galveston does a better job at Mardi Gras than we do! (see

Mardi Gras at Galveston's "Strand"

Ok, I know you get the “drinking” thing; I can see that; I know you like beads and the “throws” from the floats; that’s painfully obvious by all of the scrambling for the “CHEAP-ASS” tiny beads that the St.Patty’s day floats throw – Yeah, I’m talking to you Greenville Avenue Parade! Get some freakin’ “deluxes” to throw this year! I dare ya!!! I’ve grown up here so I know you can party, so why can’t you loosen up your tight asses (and tops) and flash and schlog like a Cajun tourist on Bourbon Street? It’s the Mardi Gras spirit! There’s no fighting (stop one if you see it staring), no jealousy (your girlfriend’s just showing her boobs, not giving them away, and your boyfriend is just letting it hang out, it’s not detachable… I hope), there’s no crap! Just friends partying with friends that they may not have met yet. There’s this whole cool and friendly vibe that’s created when like-minded people set out to attend the world’s largest party!

Now I can’t say that this is 100% Dallas’ fault. One of the reasons for the Mardi Gras parade push is the relative recent influx of former New Orleans natives into the Dallas area. OK, now I’m talking to the NOLA transplants… You’ve brought this wonderful history, traditions, and world class recipes with you, but these Dallasites need your guidance when it comes to the ways of Mardi Gras; they need lagniappe (a little something extra). They just don’t get it!

Flashing (for girls), shlogging (for guys), and passing out (for everyone) are actually a relatively recent developments in Mardi Gras tradition, brought on largely by the location and reputation of New Orleans’ French Quarter and Bourbon Street, a rather bawdy section of town, and by the steadily dropping age of the “Spring Break-ers” that has discovered Mardi Gras. This type of behavior doesn’t occur everywhere in New Orleans, primarily just in the French Quarter.

The term "Mardi Gras" refers to a Catholic celebration beginning on or after Epiphany and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday, Mardi gras (French for Fat Tuesday). This refers to the practice of eating rich, fatty foods before fasting for the Lenten (Lent) season begins on Ash Wednesday. Many of the Mardi Gras traditions include the wearing of masks and costumes, King Cakes, huge social events, drinking, dancing, sports competitions, and parades held by Krewes.

A Krewe (pronounced "crew") is an organization that puts on a parade or ball for the Carnival season. Krewe members pay fees in order to cover parade and/or ball costs. Fees can range from thousands of dollars a year for the most elaborate parades to as little as $20 for the smaller marching clubs. Some of the more notable Krewes are the Mistick Krewe of Comus, the Krewe of Proteus, Rex, the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, and the Krewe of Momus. Krewes toss beads and other “throws” such as cups, coins, and the most prized of throws, hand-decorated coconuts.

While Dallas is certainly not the king of Mardi Gras partying, there are definitely some good Mardi Gras times to be had here in Big D. So let me offer up a few “Party Gras” ideas...

The 10th Annual Mardi Gras - Texas Style (not to be confused with the 2010 parade)
February 18, 2012 - Sponsored by the WOLF 99.5 – Automobile Building Fair Park – 28 bands, 5 stages, 1 day – ‘nuff said!

The Rocky Horror Mardi Gras Show

Lakewood Theatre – February 10, 2012 - “See the immortal, immoral cult classic performed by a live professional cast!”  Doors open at 11 pm. There’ll be music, dancing, and pre-show festivities. Rocky begins promptly at Midnight.” Tickets are $11. Prop Packs are $4. Note: Outside props are not allowed!

Lake Dallas Mardi Gras - Fat Tuesday, February 21, 2012 on Main Street. Live music by the Nawlin's Gumbo Kings and a 'Big Easy' parade down the streets of Lake Dallas.

Mardi Gras Oak Cliff Parade & Crawfish Boil
Mardi Gras Oak Cliff

Bishop Arts District, Oak Cliff - February 18-19, 2012 - Festivities include a “Dash for the Beads” a masquerade ball and a parade.

Rathbun's Blue Plate Kitchen

6130 Luther Ln. Dallas, TX 75225 – February 21, 2012 - Mardi Gras Party! Cajun buffet $30 per person, plus tax and 20% gratuity, complimentary hurricane, live music and drink specials all night - Dress up if you dare!

Nate’s Seafood and Steakhouse

14951 Midway Rd. Addison, TX 75001February 21, 2012 – Nate’s has been my Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday headquarters for the past five years or so. It’s crowded, loud, there’s live music, beads, booze, and fun! Get there early for a seat.

Dodie’s Cajun

A few years ago the Greenville location was your only option, but Dodie’s is thriving and has taken over the old Hurricane Grill location and they have seven locations in North Texas serving up authentic Cajun food and some of the best mud-bugs in the DFW area. They’re always having a good time during Mardi Gras!

Aligator Café
4416 Live Oak Street Dallas, TX 75204 - Chef Ivan Pugh, a New Orleans transplant has taken over an old fast food chicken restaurant and made it into a homey, funky little gem of a Cajun restaurant, with the best alligator I’ve had in Dallas. The vibe is cool, the live blues is hot, and the beer is freezing! (I literally had ice chips floating in my beer last time I was there! Perfect with my red beans and rice).

The Quarter
15201 Addison Rd. Addison, TX 75001 – Just North of Belt Line. Mardi Gras party on the 21st. Full menu served until 1:30 am. French Quarter themed bar and restaurant.


So start a Krewe, party with your friends, have some drinks, flash your things, get some beads, stop a fight, make friends, get a King Cake, share a slice, and make the one who gets the little plastic baby (Wikipedia King Cake) pay for the rest of the drinks! Aieeeeeee! Throw me something Mister! Laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll)!

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