Southern Decadence is here.

The Labor Day weekend is the time to escape from most cities, heading to crowded beaches or gnat-filled cabins. In New Orleans, we will instead have costumes and parading with all of the attached pageantry, courtesy of our rainbow people. Since the early 1970s, this event has been on calendars of the chosen fey, and since the explosion of the gay rights movement in the 1980s, it has become one of the most anticipated gay community series of events for any New Orleanian. From the history page:

And so it was, on a sultry August afternoon in 1972, that this band of friends decided to plan an amusement. According to author James T. Spears, writing in Rebels, Rubyfruit and Rhinestones: Queering Space in the Stonewall South, this “motley crew of outcasts” began Southern Decadence as a going away party for a friend named Michael Evers, and to shut up a new “Belle Reve” tenant (from New York) who kept complaining about the New Orleans heat. As a riff on the “Belle Reve” theme, the group named the event a “Southern Decadence Party: Come As Your Favorite Southern Decadent,” requiring all participants to dress in costume as their favorite “decadent Southern” character. According to Spears, “The party began late that Sunday afternoon, with the expectation that the next day (Labor Day) would allow for recovery. Forty or fifty people drank, smoked, and carried on near the big fig tree … even though Maureen (the New Yorker) still complained about the heat.”

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About DW

New Orleans resident, writer, activist. Public market consultant.

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