Take me to Mardi Gras
“Come on take me to the Mardi Gras, where the people sing and play. Where the dancing is elite and there’s music in the street both night and day…”
Paul Simon fan or not I challenge anyone to hear this verse, read these words and not conclude that New Orleans is the place to be on March 4.
I first heard the song as a child and ever since I’ve wanted to find out what he was talking about. And this year, finally, I will be headed to one of the world’s most famous parties.
For those of you who haven’t spent years obsessing about a Paul Simon song, Mardi Gras is basically music, parades, picnics, floats and general merriment that takes over New Orleans. In this town they take their annual celebration very seriously indeed and throw themselves headfirst into it.
Dressing up in extraordinary costumes and dancing takes over any thoughts of work as the city’s businesses and roads are pretty much shut down in favour of unashamed fun.
I don’t think I’ll be dressing up to be honest, more my style to watch from the sidelines with a cocktail or two and then inevitably get up and join in before too long and immediately regret not having a costume.
To best absorb the atmosphere one must stay right in the heart of the city so I’ve gone for Soniat House. Originally built in 1830, the hotel is three Creole townhouses in the French Quarter bustling with antiques, spiral staircases, balconies and art.
The hotel has a reputation of being the best boutique hotel in the city but that’s not why I chose it. It was this line I read in an article about the hotel that sealed my selection: “the one where the fantasy of New Orleans is played out with the most finesse.”
Being there for Mardi Gras is one of my oldest fantasies so these words sung to me much like Paul Simon’s did.
If you’re going to be there then look out for me. I’ll be the one, in the words of Mr Simon, mingling in the street and jingling to the beat of jelly roll.