Masked Watcher: Dragons, Explorers, and Islanders Rule the Night
Editor’s note: The Press-Register holds the exclusive worldwide rights to the reportage of the Masked Observer, a mysterious resident of the leisure class who covers local news Mardi Gras scene.
The Mardi Gras Mobile Ball attendee is usually dependent on some social construct, or at least a rudimentary set of guidelines, on how an evening will unfold. It usually involves the following: tables, groups and winding lines of revelers eagerly attending bars and banquet tables, filling double plates and cups for their “friends”.
But what made last weekend’s Crewe parties at Observes stand out was the seeming absence of rules – punctuated by a sense that the boundless pursuit of the ultimate party was the just and proper aim of all human life. “As it should be,” muttered Dark Hallway, the Watcher’s burly bodyguard, trying in vain to balance a plate of egg rolls on two cups of clear, vaporous liquid.
So was the scene of the 134th Dragon Order Ball at Cotton Hall, a party that benefited enormously from a change of venue from the country club to the top of Spring Hill.
Cotton Hall’s elegant floating barn was filled with two-year-old pink-robed debutantes from MCA Carnival Court, and the Dragons enhanced the space with pots of malt drinks, a chalkboard with real floats and buffet tables responsible for the above. spring rolls with lemon dip and crispy pork belly with demi-glace.
And to make everything go well, great sounds of the 70s emanated from the stage.
The tableau gave each first damsel a chance to glide through the crowd in the wake of a huge dragon head. And the Dragons’ open-vat beer-dispensing technique was a beauty in itself: after all, any mystical society that streamlines a Bud Light’s progression from case to palate deserves the highest praise.
Meanwhile, Cotton Hall’s full-length windows and position adjacent to Broad Street made it easy for Dragons guests to gaze upon the parade of Conde Cavaliers and the city’s vibrant nightscape.
The Order of the Dragons was just the start of Mobile’s launch weekend. The following night, the masked suite arrived at the foot of Water Street as honored guests of the Conde Explorers, who stormed into the Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center after their triumphant ride through the streets of downtown .
Instead of a tableau, the explorers and their guests got down to business: food, flair, and fun, in whatever order suited the reveler.
The band Eklektik Experience provided non-stop R&B, and between sets top DJ Jack Benny guided guests through so many line dances that several women ditched their shoes in order to keep up. Just outside the ballroom, guests lined up for barbecue sandwiches, chicken wings, jambalaya, boxes of cold cuts and a plethora of desserts.
Well late in the evening, just before a lull set in, the Eklektik were joined by the Juke Box Brass Band to lead the crowd into the exuberant Explorers second line. Most of the krewe were equipped with feathered umbrellas for this moment, but anyone who could swing a handkerchief joined them.
ISLAND MASSACRE SECRET SOCIETY
Speaking of community fun, the masked watcher closed out the first full Mardi Gras weekend with one of his favorite new traditions, stopping in the Massacre Island Secret Society’s Secret Procession, which marches alongside the Pelican Girls, Lover’s Oak Widows, Pirates, Skeletons and many more on Dauphin Island.
Appealing to the subversive nature of Dark Hallway, these mystics rely on the Coconut Telegraph to publicize their street party. It’s like a jubilee statement around Mobile Bay in the height of summer.
The island krewes formed in 2021, and with few weeks to plan, delivered perhaps the most original parade of this shortened Mardi Gras season. This time they had a full year to strategize, and as one of their leaders, sieur de Bienville, explained, that was more than enough time to create something truly remarkable. The “little extra” he was referring to ended up being a spectacle of carnival proportions.
As well as showing off stellar costumes—the 23 Pelican Girls, for example, were in full 17th-century garb and wore lamentable caps—the krewes fielded unique floats such as a pirate ship, a towering Lover’s Oak, and a 60 motorized, crawling snake feet.
After kicking off the Sunday evening festivities with a small welcome event at the Bienville House, the procession waded through the island’s quaint neighborhoods sharing handmade throws and lots of goodwill. The whole coterie then made their way to a watering hole that had been set aside for their post-parade celebration.
At one point, worker Bienville discovered that his palms were bleeding, having been cut and nicked during the night’s work. Showing his injuries to a guest, he exclaimed, “I was wondering why my hands were sticky!
His lovely Pelican Girl quickly took care of him, and the couple descended into the crowd of well-wishers with royal aplomb. As the evening reached a noisy climax, a few of the revelers rode the giant snake, which has yet to be named. As soon as the Observer finds out, you will too.