Mardi Gras Moments: Handa Wanda’s
Last month, IT Editor Janelle Nanos traveled to New Orleans to explore the culture and traditions of Mardi Gras. For four days, she spoke with the people behind the masks — the ones who help make the celebration happen — to get their stories and insider tips. She’s been blogging about her experiences throughout the month, and is there now experiencing the celebration firsthand. You can read through all of the Mardi Gras Moments featured so far.
I’ve been talking a lot about the Mardi Gras Indians, and now that I’m actually down here, I’m really excited to see them tomorrow live and in person. But I did get a sneak peek while I was here in January, by visiting the Indian practice at Handa Wanda’s. Located in Central City, the club (and the nearby Yia Cafe, where the practice was held the night we visited) is not the safest part of town. But if you’re smart and don’t wander too far away from the club, it’s a terrific opportunity to get a glimpse of the Indian experience, particularly for anyone who comes down to New Orleans when it’s not in the full throes of the Carnival season.
The night we arrived, we got to watch the Red Flag Team practice their music and dance routines. I could try and describe it, but I’ll let the video speak for itself. And in between all of the dancing, I had the chance to chat with the spyboy of the tribe, Leon Joseph, and then got a special treat: Joseph was hard at work at his Indian costume, and he gave us a glimpse of his work in progress. He’s spent the entire year beading the beautiful front pieces he showed us, and even offered a secret, that he uses a football helmet to support his headdress. I can’t promise that you’ll be able to see a costume, but if you want to learn more about the Mardi Gras Indian culture, Handa Wanda’s provides a great chance to see it first hand.
Handa Wanda, 2425 Dryades St., New Orleans
Check out all of the Mardi Gras Moments in this series, and get an insider’s perspective with our interactive Mardi Gras Map.
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