Mardi Gras in New Orleans is serious stuff: 13 parades roll out between January 6 and February 28 with thousands of costumed revelers (known as “krewes”) marching, dancing, and riding on elaborate floats. Outside groups are rarely invited to participate. But less than two years after forming, Claire Stewart and The Red Hot Dancing Queens will hit the streets of New Orleans on Sunday, February 19 as the first dance krewe from the tri-state to march in Mardi Gras.
—as told to Alyssa Brandt
“We moved here in March, and three weeks later I went to the Opening Day parade. I was invited to ride on the Rosie Red float, and as I’m looking at all the people, I had this crazy idea of forming a Mardi Gras parade group. I thought, Look at all these people coming out to support the city.
We debuted at Pride 2015. A week later we came in second at Northside’s Fourth of July parade—with only six weeks of practice. Then we did the Harvest Home parade in September and won best marching group. Last year we were in the Opening Day parade and tied for third for best float out of 200 entrants. The next big goal is Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
Our performance to Missy Elliot’s “Pep Rally” [at Pride 2016] was the tipping point. That’s what made the Krewe of King Arthur say You are Mardi Gras standard, come join us and parade seven miles. You have to know and appreciate Mardi Gras to understand the logistics involved and what you’ll need, from water to snacks to subwoofers, to raising money. It’s a big project. For Pride I think we paraded 1.4 miles in 40 minutes. When we go with King Arthur, we’ll be parading for a minimum of three hours.
We’re about entertaining and having fun. We bring different music and choreography every time. Our members are university students, accountants, librarians, stay-at-home moms, consultants, aid workers, and retirees, and we channel every color of the rainbow. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what you look like, or what you do. If you’re having fun and dancing in the streets—that’s all that matters.”