COVID-19 quashed the 2021 Mardi Gras season for our entire city. Sequins and feathers would go on to gather dust as Gay Carnival Krewes canceled their elaborate balls. In the world of Gay Mardi Gras, however, it was more than just the balls. All the fundraisers the organizations planned to hold leading up to their big events–some monthly occurrences–had to be shelved leaving them with a large deficit of the funds needed to throw these extravaganzas.
One krewe, though, decided to keep its tradition going so that its members would not have to miss a ball in its 56 year history. The Mystic Krewe of Amon-Ra hosted Le Petit Boule (The Small Ball) on Saturday, May 22, 2021 at the Zeitgeist Theatre located in Arabi. A far cry from the over-the-top costumes of previous balls, this miniature presentation included several costumes with smaller back pieces (but still lots of feathers and sequins) and several entertainers.
The evening began with Bradley Arsenaux singing the National Anthem followed by Marva White giving the Invocation. Ron Issler delivered the President’s Welcome dedicating the ball to Matt Easley, a devoted krewe member who passed away earlier in the year. Ron was later seen in the tableau as December dressed as a very sassy Santa.
Their majesties King and Queen Amon-Ra LV John East and Nancy Jean Peters reigned supreme over the evening’s festivities. The tableau’s numbers consisted of titles such as D’italia, Demolition, Diva, Datolite and Da Balls before ending with an open court.
The by-invitation-only evening was an intimate gathering of friends and supporters of the krewe. What an amazing evening it was, reminiscing with people that I haven’t seen in over a year. There were plenty of hugs, tears and toasts not only to the celebration of the night, but to our strength in community and our resilience.
The New Orleans gay Carnival scene has been around since Yuga was formed in 1958. There have been many different krewes over the years and to date we still have eight (Armeinius, Lords of Leather, Mwindo, Narcissus, Petronius, Apollo and Stars in addition to Amon-Ra). I applaud all the members of Gay Carnival krewes both past and current. These people kept the passion and majesty alive facing tough such circumstances as homophobia, racism, hurricanes, the AIDS epidemic and, most recently, COVID.
Earlier in the year, Amon-Ra hosted their Rush Party at Good Friends Bar. I was in attendance at that event also and enjoyed talking with the members. All of them consider themselves a family, sharing their love for this cherished art form that blends fashion, political satire and stage performances into a raucous night of entertainment.
If you would like to learn more about the Krewe, go to Amon-Ra’s website at http://kreweofamon-ra.com to learn more about this wonderful krewe.
Our community, like our city, reveled in our love for Mardi Gras, so being part of a krewe, especially one of the LGBT+ ones gives people the unique opportunity to be a part of the pageantry that makes Carnival special.