Krewe Boheme: a parade celebrating creativity

Mardi Gras' newest krewe celebrates the bohemian spirit endemic to New Orleans' most famous cultural celebration

Another creation by the krewe of Dystopian Paradise. Photo credit: Isabella Brown

Story and photos by Isabella Brown, junior at Lusher High School

Origins

Last Friday, the up and coming Krewe Bohème made their debut on the streets of New Orleans, dazzling crowds with their sparkly costumes and extravagant floats. How did they come to be, you may ask? It all started with Krewe Delusion’s former fundraiser and after party organizers: co-captains and board members of krewes such as the Merry Antoinettes, Goddesses, and Krewe of R.U.M., to list a few. Last year, these co-captains and board members pulled off an amazing after party at the Ace Hotel for Krewe Delusion that included aerialists, pole dancers, and New Orleans-raised DJ Tree Riehl. After pulling off such a phenomenal after party, they couldn’t help but wonder what else they could accomplish and decided to challenge themselves. They had their first meeting in April 2018, and within a short amount of time, came up with a name: Krewe Bohème. Inspired by the Bohemian Movement of the 1920s, the name ‘Krewe Bohème’ was the perfect fit for the group of quirky creatives. Not long after, they decided on the members of the Board: Francesca Brennan, President; Lizzie Peyroux Brown, Treasurer, Bob Hannaford, Vice President; Julie Barecki Brown, Artistic Director; Cassandra Rolland, Social Media.

The Krewe of King James (Brown) float. Photo credit: Isabella Brown

Floats and Throws

The making of the throws and floats all went down at Bratz Y’all, a German restaurant down in the Bywater. Starting in early January, volunteers met at Bratz Y’all’s warehouse every week to decorate throws and work on floats, all the while enjoying the excellent selection of pretzel themed foods. Some of the most prominent floats from the parade (not that they weren’t all prominent because indeed they were) were built there, including the light up boat from Krewe of R.U.M. (designed by Krewe of R.U.M. members Aaron Nachlas, Sean Meeks, and Louie Marino), the James Brown float, and the magnificent opener of the parade, the absinthe bottle float where the royalty of the krewe, drag queen Vinsantos presided for the entirety of the parade. Caroline Mendez, the designer of the amazing absinthe bottle float, came up with her masterpiece at Bratz Y’all with the help of Hunter Hutchinson who did all of the laser-cutting of the bottle cap and helped assemble the float as well as Jacob Mills who helped conceptualize the possibilities of the float. The last few weeks before the parade, the float came together with the help of many volunteers, buckets of green paint, lots of LED lights, and ungodly amounts of glitter.

Krewe de Rum’s light up ship in Bratz Y’all warehouse. Photo credit: Isabella Brown

Pre-Parade Party

To get down to the Bywater where the pre-party for the Merry Antoinettes was being held and where the lineup started, I crammed myself into an Uber with three members of the krewe, all with the tall wigs, tight corsets, and large skirts on. I attempted to buckle myself in, but there was no use, as I was being drowned and smushed up against the car door by my mother/ co captain of the Merry Antoinette/ Artistic Director Julia Barecki’s giant tutu. We arrived to our destination around 5:30. The pre-party was being held at the Grand Krewe Wine Store, perfectly appropriate for a party for a bunch of (predominantly) women dressed up as varying versions of Marie Antoinette. I stood in the corner taking pictures, petting the variety of pugs in attendance when they would pass by, and occasionally asking questions

Merry Antoinettes at the pre-party, enjoying champagne at the Grand Krewe Wine Store. Photo credit: Isabella Brown

I asked Merry Antoinette and friend Megan Moss how long it took her to make her costume and she responded that it took her a month and half, as she had to tediously sew a sequined patch of an eye on her jacket and additionally gather the rest of the materials for her costume. It’s estimated that each of the Merry Antoinettes in that room dedicated at least a few months of their lives to assemble their costumes and, additionally, spent quite a lot of money in the process. I would later come to find that, in addition to the Merry Antoinettes, many of the other krewes in Krewe Bohème make their own costumes just as intensively, one such being the Goddesses, who are heavily influenced by the costuming of burlesque dancers as many themselves are members of the krewe. After greeting and conversing with some familiar faces for half an hour, President of the Board of Krewe Bohème and Merry Antoinette, Francesca Brennan gave the signal (yelling, “IT’S TIME TO GO”) that it was time to start walking to the lineup.

Royalty drag queen Vinsantos residing in his royal carriage/ absinthe bottle. Photo credit: Caroline Mendez

The Lineup

As I arrived at lineup, I could feel the mix of excitement and nerves in the air. Members were either scrambling or dancing to their places on the route. The lineup was organized by size of krewe and music. WDSU along with several different media outlets was there with several cameramen and women dispersed through the crowd snapping pictures of everyone and everything.

I was an amateur with my subpar Canon camera. The Board Members of Krewe Bohème were the most stressed out; this was their parade. In all of the chaos I stood by the absinthe bottle float, admiring it in awe. Vinsantos and his (amazingly tall) drag queen bodyguards arrived to take place by the absinthe bottle at 5:30. Again, I stared in awe. As soon as he arrived, photographers swarmed near me taking photos of him in his magnificent makeup and costume (or should I say regular wear). And then, it was time.

Interrobang’s float. Photo credit: Isabella Brown

The Parade

At first, the parade was quick-paced, with the absinthe bottle bearing Vinsantos flashing by and the Merry Antoinettes passing out cookies (shoutout to Bywater Bakery) hurriedly. Then, it slowed down and I was able to truly appreciate the magnificence of it. All of the different krewes varied. While the Merry Antoinettes and the Goddesses were some of the largest groups, krewes such as Black Trans Rights, Krewe d’Ensité (a krewe standing up against gentrification), Dystopian Paradise with its giant crocodile float, InterroBang, pictured left, and many more really stood out. The creativity of it all was evident through the small details: the wood carved spoons from the Merry Antoinettes, the bubbles from the light up ship that when looked at through 3D glasses appear as hearts, the moving windmill from Les Rebelles. All of the members of the krewe were very energetic and the crowd reflected this same energy. As seen through almost every detail of Krewe Boheme, this parade was truly a celebration of creativity and of going above and beyond.

While the members of the Board felt relieved that they got through their first parade, at the end of it all, they were left with the lasting impression that they had truly accomplished something unbelievable with Krewe Boheme. The genuine dedication that all of the members of this krewe put into creating, not only a parade, but a spectacle goes to show that Krewe Boheme is not your run of the mill Mardi Gras parade, and that is saying something in the city of New Orleans, known for the out of the ordinary and spectacular.