Archive for the ‘Crescent City’ Tag


In Greek mythology, Endymion could have been a handsome Aeolian shepherd or hunter, or, even a king who ruled and was said to reside at Olympia in Elis, but he was also said to reside and was venerated on Mount Latmus in Caria, on the west coast of Asia Minor. There is confusion over the number of Endymions, as some sources suppose that one was or was related to the prince of Elis and the other was a shepherd or astronomer from Caria. In New Orleans, there is no confusion. There is one Endymion, and it is the mother of all krewes.

To fully appreciate the history of the largest and most successful Carnival organization in the history of New Orleans, it is helpful to examine the celebration in the years that preceded Endymion‘s inception in 1966. A typical  Mardi Gras season in the mid-Sixties consisted of about 20 parades with relatively small floats and fairly conservative amount of throws. Tableau balls were declining in popularity. Hotel occupancy rates of less than 60% at Mardi Gras were common. Many felt that carnival was in a slump. Something new was needed to inject life into the celebration. In 1969, the new Krewe of Bacchus issued a wake-up call and Mardi Gras was forever changed. Endymion’s 1974 emergence into a super krewe had equal impact.

Endymion brought young people back to Carnival, by changing the sound and feel of Mardi Gras. Contemporary music and pop stars from radio and television were presented within the parade, and Carnival suddenly had glitter and flash. The krewe also brought an element of variety to the celebration that had been absent.

A list of more than 50 stars that Endymion has imported for its Extravaganzas reads like a show-biz Who’s Who, yet the krewe has always included local talent in its entertainment. As the city’s number one cheerleader, if there is ever a way to stretch a Crescent City component into a parade theme, float title, or maid’s costume, Endymion does it. Even its fleur de lis logo is pure New Orleans!

With the largest floats ever assembled, and parade themes with which everyone identified, Endymion quickly became the people’s parade. The krewe also changed the look of Carnival, making an instant impact with its magnificent court costumes and enormous headdresses. The concept of showcasing the krewe’s royalty and court within a parade was novel. People actually came to see Endymion’s “pre-parade” of mini-floats, just to catch a glimpse of the visual spectacle.

People also came to Endymion’s parade to do more than look. As the most generous club in Carnival, krewe members lived up to their motto, “Throw until it hurts.” Literally, millions of beads, cups, doubloons and trinkets were tossed-then as now, no one goes home from an Endymion parade empty-handed.

Thanks to Bacchus and Endymion, four day hotel packages on Carnival weekend became an easy sell, much to the delight of tour operators. But Endymion did more than attract tourists and provide jobs; it played a major role in the democratization of Mardi Gras, opening its doors to some who had been barred from the old-line clubs. Endymion’s membership represented, then as it does now, a cross section, a virtual microcosm of New Orleans, from cab drivers to attorneys, from janitors to U.S. Senators. Without fanfare or fuss, Endymion opened its membership to the entire community. And what could be more democratic than Endymion’s selection process for its monarch? The club’s annual blind draw, performed by the reigning Queen, makes it an organization in which any man can wear Endymion’s crown.

Most of all, Endymion has succeeded because it is fun-fun for the public and fun for the members who live for their special and for their very special parade. This spirit has produced a sense of loyalty that is rare in Carnival organizations. All Hail Endymion! Mardi Gras Main Event.

The Krewe of Endymion Parade, rolls once again on Saturday, February 21st 2009 on it’s traditional Mid-City route. Although this year’s theme was “Tales of Sleep and Dreams,” we doubted that the hundreds of thousands of Mardi Gras revelers along the Endymion parade route would be resting as twenty-five spectacular Super-Tandem Floats led by celebrity Grand Marshall Kid Rock—carrying over 2,400 masked revelers—will bombard the enthusiastic crowds with MILLIONS of strands of Mardi Gras beads and Endymion 2009 Collectible throws.

What follows is our account of a day that started with maneuvering around police barricades in order to get to an undisclosed location where we proceeded to indulge in beverages and food, before heading for the neutral ground on Canal Street.

Our location on the route

Our location on the route

The 2009 Endymion parade exprience

The sound missing in New Orleans   Leave a comment

Chronicle of the first Tango Show and Dance at the Rock ‘N’ Bowl Cafe with the music of Quartet MALA JUNTA from Uruguay and the performance of the NOLA Dance Troupe “Los Che.”

Those who undertake the endless journey on the path of the tango, travel through well-known avenues where the emotions intersect each corner, sharing the happiness of the encounter with old and new friends .

There are also less frequently traveled roads. Those who venture on these, have their hearts full of tango, with the flaming torch that blazes new trails, so that those who follow can find a friendly footpath. This path leads to a place to make a heart-warming pause before continuing the search of the destiny that waits ahead.

One of these new footpaths leads to New Orleans, the Crescent City that rises majestically from the shores of the powerful Mississippi River. A harbor city; a melting pot of races; a “Bohemian soul;” a resonant box of old and new sounds that form the musical essence that gave the world the happiness and the sadness of jazz. Music of the black folks that seized the soul of the white people, and after a long time of tragic racism and segregation contributed to the universal recognition of men and women, without regards to the color of their skin.

Gerardo, Julio, Juan, Gloria and Jorge

Roz, Aaron and Linda

When arriving in New Orleans, the traveler recognizes traditions; the narrow streets; the balconies overflowing with flowers; the street lights that illuminate the nigh for untiring travelers as they look for, and find, in every door, the sounds of pistons; of strings; of accordions; of drums and of voices that sing the experiences of life. Each relevant event is celebrated with brass bands parading through the streets of the French Quarter marching with the joy that the music creates, the second line dancing and the spirit always present of those who no longer exist, but have left their footprints on the old cobblestones near the river bank.

Alberto Paz and Valorie Hart

On Monday, April 9, a missing sound arrived to New Orleans. It came from the Eastern shores of the Rio de la Plata, another majestic river that unites two cities fraternally related by the common sound of the original tango. With a bragging and sentimental accent, lazy and inciting, the moan of the bandoneon was heard in New Orleans.At 9 PM, in a hall reminiscent of neighborhood clubs of Montevideo or Buenos Aires, the night shivered like a first love affair when the “fueye” of Gerardo Perez played the sounds of La Yumba. As the floor filled with dancers, many listening to the phrasing of the bandoneon for the first time, the members of the Uruguayan quartet Mala Junta began to write a new chapter in the imponderable history of the music of New Orleans. The tango had its party and it dressed up for the occasion.

Graciela and Enrique

Gloria, Julio and Nelly

The way is now open so that the travelers of  tango may  find, in a bend of the Mississippi River, a warm abode where open arms will wait them with a fraternal embrace, and where they can hear along with the old sounds of New Orleans, the new yumba of tango shooting from digital tracks, and sometimes from an orchestra on stage.

Alberto and Aaron

Rosanna, Valorie, Catherine and Warren

“Los Che”
Valorie, Phyllis, Aaron, Sabina, Sean, Catherine,
Mary Anne, Warren, Gary, Melissa, Ed, Alberto

2000 UNA NOCHE DE GARUFA   Leave a comment

The city of New Orleans shares an uncanny resemblance to another port city colonized by the Spaniards, culturally influenced by the French, and originally created to serve as a human dumping ground for the most undesirable characters from the Old Continent.

Settled on the banks of a mighty river, the blueprints called for a Cathedral and the Cabildo circling the central square. Today, New Orleans is without a doubt the most authentic European city in the United States. Buenos Aires continues to be the most European city in South America.

From the late nineteenth century settlements of Buenos Aires, the tango emerged as the dance and music of the disenfranchised lower class and in a little over one century it has become an international ambassador for the cult of the human embrace.

The dance floor at Pierre Maspero

We first visited the Crescent City in October 1999 invited by Casa Argentina of New Orleans to teach a four day Argentine tango workshop to about twenty couples. Actually it was Sabina_Nola (an e-mail handle at the time) who had originally asked the proverbial question, “when are you coming to New Orleans,” after she had missed us in San Francisco while visiting California. When she approached the Casa Argentina, the task to host us, promote us and introduce us to the local dancers fell upon a couple of Ecuadorians who were  having dances in Metairie, just outside the Parish limits.

An amused group watching a tango exhibition

Barely a couple of years old, tango in New Orleans had been quietly practiced in a downtown cabaret and at a quiet suburban studio fifteen minutes away. We remember getting the impression that these were two groups separated by a common passion (and a stretch of Interstate 10).

Performance by Gary and Phyllis with Alberto and Valorie

On December 29, 2000, six months after we had moved to the  Crescent City, we wanted to share with our new tango friends a taste of the good tango life that lies ahead.

So, we gathered in the heart of the French Quarter for a night of “garufa,” a night of partying the tango way, a night to thank and be thankful for the renovated spirit of friendship, camaraderie and unselfish love of the tango.


Sabina on the left and Robin on the right flank one of the group tables

The location was the second floor room of a nearly two-hundred year old restaurant, which was smartly decorated with garlands, Christmas lights, multicolored ribbons, votive candles and freshly cut flowers.

Gwen, Aaron, Linda and friend

Four round tables were set around the dance floor, each one with centerpieces topped with candelabra and individual flower vases. The open bar began serving the first arrivals at 9 PM as they gathered to greet each other, their lively conversation leading to a delicious dinner which included paella, salmon, shrimp pasta, Caesar salad and a delicious bread pudding for dessert.

Eddie, Alberto and Valorie

The evening stretched into the first hours of the morning when the last couple literally dragged their happily tired feet off the floor and marched, with the reverberation of the sounds of legendary orchestras in their hearts, into the misty gray halo that wraps around the colonial street lamps.