Riding in the Mystic Krewe of Nyx is a highlight of my life. I took a risk seven years ago when I joined a Krewe that was yet to have it’s parade permit yet. And when we rolled, we were a meek 250 women figuring it out together. Today, Nyx stands as the largest all-female krewe in New Orleans surpassing 3,000 active riders. When you ride in Nyx, it certainly is more than just one day. Throughout the year, the krewe has large social and fundraising events. Additionally, my float holds mixers and a holiday social throughout the year.
There is much work culminating to ride day, which for many, is like waking up on Christmas morning.
When I wake, I dress in full wig and headpiece and elaborately drawn on eye make up as I won’t be masked until we roll. My trusty camping backpack is stocked with eye-drops, band-aids, safety pins, chapstick, gloves, my float harness, ID, cash, snacks, ibuprofen, & several remote phone chargers.
We sift through the already heavy traffic on Tchoupitoulas early that morning to drop off our hand decorated purses and adult beverages/snacks. After popping in, we don’t stay long. We will have plenty of time to get our throws situated later. It’s off to my friend’s pre-party pre-party.
A small group of us always meets for brunch in the Warehouse district, rotating through the city enjoying mimosas and eggs benedict to our hearts content. Before we know it, we make our way, either by foot or Uber, to the official Nyx Pre-Parade Party. There we find the greatest party within the city. Three thousand women, bustling in elaborate headdress, brightly colored wigs, meandering, laughing, dancing, drinking, and eating. Buffet style food flanks the walls and throughout the three hour party various announcements, appreciations, and accolades are shared. One of the city’s coveted high school marching bands makes an appearance and the feeling in the room is electric!
Before we know, we’re heading out the door to load on to our floats.
Our float has a buddy system to ensure that someone is checking that you have your harness, your bag/purse or anything else, as well as that you are not off wandering in the bathroom and miss the float loading.
We make our way back down Tchoupitoulas to cue up behind Druids which rolls immediately prior. With music playing from our float, we dance and wave to folks in the street since by law, there is no throwing of any kind. Carnival krewes have strict rules and when not followed can lead to immediate removal off the float and termination from the krewe. When we roll, we must be masked and attached via harness at all times (another zero tolerance rule).
Waiting to ride is one of my favorite parts of the day, now closer to 5pm.
We are organizing our throws, sharing some adult beverages, and getting situated in our 2×2 spot where we will be spending the next 6 hours. Around 6pm, our float has arranged for catered boxed dinners, because more eating of course! The floats are staged and we can now get off the float to see family members or stroll down to a nearby float. It is not easy, climbing the steep ladders with floats filled waist high with boxes, bags, throws, and trash. This is generally when I see my 7 year old, my co-parent walks her down and friends bring her a special throw they had set aside.
Our visit is brief, it’s time to get back in our spots and continue sorting and arranging throws. Where will purses be stowed? Where are the glow necklaces, Nyx tumblers, and light up wands? It is all cramped and strategically placed as we seek to make sense of it all after a day of indulging.
We strive to be smart about our adult beverage intake. Pace yourself, drink plenty of water, and eat your dinner! Keep your harness on. Check on your buddy.
And woah, here we go ladies … We are rolling!!!
The lights from the street lamps can be blinding, the roar of the crowds deafening, and chill of the cool air biting. And it is pure magic. Or purse magic I could say, as the parade goers cheer, chant, and plead for a purse. We know how many we can throw to last us to the end of the route. I dislike having to disappoint and always try to delight someone with a fun throw they will still enjoy.
There are so many different types of parade goers. The children in their ladders waving their hands, an adult teetering behind them half catching / half shielding the child’s faces from a stray throw. Tweens now crafty for their catch using a fishing net or bucket keep us on our constant toes. You have the dude in the back of the crowds, seated in a folding chair who doesn’t want to stand, but will wave his arm broadly while the other holds his beer. Of course, the route is lined with college aged students who are shrieking and have 3 pounds of beads around their necks.
We are dancing to the music in pace, smiling, waving, and pointing emphatically when we spot a friend. Sometimes I just stop and try to take it in for one minute. Then, as though we’ve blinked, we come to a stop. Gather your personal items; anything left gets thrown away. And it’s over. With exhausted smiles and weary legs, we meet our float mates to share “Did you see that guy in the back running for three blocks?”and “I ran out of purses by Louisiana!” or “I forgot to throw all of my doubloons!” and, of course …