The Quirks Of New Orleans Culture: Mardi Gras Balls

[Originally published by Forbes]


[Part three in a 4-part series on what makes New Orleans different. Here’s part one and part two.]


New Orleans, LA—To outsiders, the Mardi Gras festival in New Orleans might appear to be about parades and outdoor parties. For many locals, though, the highlight of the season is the formal indoor parties–known as Mardi Gras Balls—that are thrown by numerous social clubs. Dating to the 1850s, these balls have been an entrenched part of the city’s social order, marked by notions of rank, tradition and exclusivity. For visitors and even many locals, the balls are thus expensive or impossible to get into. But recently I attended one of the more democratic-style Balls, to experience an internal city quirk that is little-understood by those outside of New Orleans…[read the rest at Forbes]