I could bore you with Mardi Gras rules. I could tell you not to yell, “throw me the spear!” too loudly while stepping on my little cousin’s shoes you vomited on. I could advise you not to steal doubloons from aging uptown grandmas and casual commuters from the West Bank spilling Natural Light on their lawn chairs. I could even stoop as low to tell you where you got your shoes at before some homeless guy on Bourbon tries to get $5 from you for it. But I won’t.
I won’t because we’ve all heard it before. We’ve heard the rumors, the horror stories, the good times and the bad. I could ask anyone in their 20s what they would give as Mardi Gras advice to the uninitiated, and I bet you each one would have their own set of rules and sense of authority that’s better than yours — the catch is, we’re all the same.
Who are we?
If you’re in New Orleans in your 20s, chances are you went to college here and decided to stay in this spellbinding city. If not, that means you moved here for a job so I’ll take this opportunity to say welcome, and buckle up. It’s a bumpy (but well worth it) ride.
So, 20 somethings, transplants, millennials, let’s go over a few less common do’s and don’ts of the most wonderful time of the year. We’re all out of college (for the most part, looking at you victory lappers.) Is it safe to say we’re way beyond the days of binge drinking and getting into more trouble than our parents care to bail us out for? We’re in New Orleans. I’d be crazy to say yes to that.
DO: Get a hold of yourselfSee, the difference between us and, say, the rest of the civilized world is that we know our limitations. That’s not to say we never cross them, but it also doesn’t mean we can’t control ourselves. So, do stay in control. The difference a police officer sees between a local and a tourist is the difference between what the individual is wearing. Slacks and a nice button down, perhaps a hat? Probably a local. Whatever, doesn’t matter, covered in vomit/blood and light-up Bud Light beads? Likely a tourist. I’m not saying that tourism is a bad thing, our city thrives on it. Just don’t be….
DON’T: Be “that guy”So, you’re a few drinks in and you’re holding it down. Maybe you want to get to the front of the parade to catch a frilly thong, or something, you know. I’m not judging. If you have to push your way past me in the bathroom line, that nice family who offered me hand sanitizer and toilet paper, and that kid on his dad’s shoulders who has been there for hours hoping for a frisbee, you’re probably a jerk. Don’t be that guy, don’t be a jerk. Be respectful to the other revelers around you, and the favor will be returned. The nicest guy at Mardi Gras is always the one who ran out of beer. Speaking of which…
DO: Come prepared, leave happyThere’s no sense of shame in numbers.
That guy who ran out of beer wouldn’t have had that problem, though, had he packed appropriately. I always found that doing Mardi Gras in large groups is safer and easier on the body and the wallet. It’s funny how a group of high school kids walking down Peniston with a handle of Beam hidden in their backpack draws more attention than the 30+ fraternity guys on stolen couches with a keg cart equipped with 8 funnels and a beer pong table. The reason behind this is strength in numbers. Big groups bring what they need, leaving the full day/night to do what they want. If you run out of something, that’s when you wander off and get into trouble. In all of my experiences, crossing the route to get something from the store always resulted in an hour or two of frantic cell phone tag and/or harassment by drunk people.
DON’T: Drive DrunkThis should go without saying, but it’s worth a mention over and over again. Not only is it pain in the ass for you to get a DUI, most injuries and/or deaths during Mardi Gras occur because someone was drunk, and maybe even driving. I’m not citing that statistic, because I have no source, but anyone who knows better would know to trust my opinion on that one. It’s just not worth it. Stay at a friends, stay out of jail. Take a cab, don’t take a life.
After that dark twist at the end, I think we all have a general idea of what to do and what not to do during Mardi Gras. It’s pretty simple to figure out after your first, but the main goal of this year should be to stay safe. Educate yourself on the new city ordinances, familiarize yourself with your designated urination station, and don’t be an idiot. Stay safe, y’all, and happy Mardi Gras!
Cover Image Courtesy Infrogmation of New Orleans