Sunday, March 28, 2010

Rex Vs Zulu: Krewes in Mardi Gras

Although from the readings we have looked at the Mardi Gras tradition, what I find particularly interesting is the different ‘krewes’ which participate each year, and what they individually symbolize in terms of their different cultures and histories.
From the official Mardi Gras website, it is stated that New Orleans began holding street processions by the late 1830s, with the media of the time (newspaper journalism) reporting events in advance, which were formed through New Orleans clubs and organisations. Interestingly, one of the most famous and prominent krewe of today was formed back in 1872, when a group of businessmen invented the ‘king of carnival’- Rex- to parade in the daytime parades. They were innovative in creating the Mardi Gras colours of purple, green and gold, the Mardi Gras song and the Mardi Gras flag. Decoration was an important factor in the celebrations from its beginnings. In 1909 the first recording marching of another group called the 'zulus' came to the Mardi Gras parade. This organization also held a 'king' status, however the decoration was much more humble than the lavish decor of Rex.

Although there are many private organizations which take part in Mardi Gras today, both Rex and the Zulu krewes are arguably two of the most famous. What is interesting is how they represent two very different cultures and histories. European-American elitist culture can clearly be shown within the Rex parades, whereas the Zulus represent a largely African American culture.
With New Orleans Mardi Gras being hyped as the 'greatest free carnival on Earth', I find the histories of these krewes fascinating in that it shows the event in more than commercial terms, which I think we sometimes forget.

Here I have included some links showing both the Zulu and Rex krewes from 2007- you can clearly see how different their styles are.

HYPERLINK "" A short history of Mardi Gras

HYPERLINK "" Some pictures of the Krewe of Rex Parade 2007

HYPERLINK "" Some pictures of the Krewe of Zulu Parade 2007

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