NOLA NYXETTES HOST DANCE CLINIC AND AUDITIONS JUNE 9 & 10
WOMEN ENCOURAGED TO JOIN THE CITY’S PREMIER MARDI GRAS DANCE TROUPE
Dance Clinic: Saturday, June 9 at Hilton Riverside Chart Ballroom, 10 am – 1 pm Auditions:Sunday June 10 at Harrah’s Casino, Fulton Street Room 1, 10 am – 1pm
The Nola Nyxettes dance troupe is holding tryouts this weekend for talented ladies 21 and older. The auditions will help form a new squad of women who will sashay down St. Charles Avenue during six Mardi Gras parades in 2019.
The Nyxettes are holding a clinic to teach eligible ladies a dance routine on Saturday, June 9 at the Hilton Riverside Chart Ballroom, Riverside Bldg from 10 am – 1pm.
Auditions will be held the next day on Sunday, June 10 at Harrah’s Casino, Fulton Street Room 1, from 10 am – 1 pm. Dancers must attend the clinic to learn the featured number before auditioning on Sunday. The 2018-2019 squad will be chosen on site.
Audition notes: Doors will open at 10 a.m. with auditions starting shortly thereafter. Women may bring mirrors, makeup, and hairstyling essentials to prepare for auditions. They should be performance-ready to try out with hair and makeup complete when auditions begin.
“The Nyxette’s signature top hats and tails bring an element of New York-style dancing to Mardi Gras, which has made the Nyxettes one of the premier dance troupes during Mardi Gras,” said Nyxettes Director and Krewe of Nyx Captain Julie Lea. “The Nyxettes have become an integral extension of our sisterhood and represent the Krewe at events throughout the year.”
The Nola Nyxettes were founded in 2012 and made their debut at the Krewe of Nyx Ball on February 1, 2014. The team marches in several carnival parades during the season including – Freret, King Arthur, Nyx, Iris, Thoth, and Zulu.
The group has performed at several Pelicans pre-game shows, numerous community parades, and several Mardi Gras balls.
The 2019 season for the Mystic Krewe of Nyx has begun and our Summer Social Meet and Greet is next weekend. The event is one of my favorites. Not only is it a wonderful time to meet new members and reconnect with current ones, it’s a festival of sisterhood. Nyx Sisters come together to share a night of dancing, food, and libations. The positive energy in the room is always palpable and off the charts.
Being a born and raised New Orleanian, Mardi Gras is in my blood. I began marching in parades at the age of twelve and continued until I graduated from high school. I would look at those riding on the floats and wonder what it was like up there. When my children graduated from high school, I looked for a carnival krewe to ride in. I wanted a krewe that rode at night and because I wanted to be a part of a sisterhood, it had to be an all-female krewe.
When I researched the Krewe of Nyx and found that their mission was ” to unite women of diverse backgrounds for fun, friendship, and the merriment of the Mardi Gras season,” I knew that I had found my krewe.
The Mystic Krewe of Nyx is more than just a carnival krewe and a sisterhood, it’s leading the way in terms of diversity and inclusivity with a significant number of women of all races and backgrounds riding. Since becoming a member, I have many friends from all walks of life that I am proud to call my sisters.
This season is sure to be a great one and I can’t wait to attend krewe events. The many functions for Nyx Sisters and their families to gather and celebrate our 8th year as a Mardi Gras krewe will definitely create memories that will last a lifetime.
The Mystic Krewe of Nyx motto is, “Friends come and go, but a sister is forever.”
When I finally arrived at Gallier Hall for that pinnacle moment of toasting city officials on my night reigning as Goddess Nyx VII, a massive down pour sent spectators scurrying for cover. But Councilman Jason Williams braved the onslaught and was there to greet me in all my wet, melted glory. He remarked, somewhat in awe, at the state of my dress (or undress), “Goddess Nyx VII, I can’t believe it. You must be the toughest Goddess ever! It’s freezing and raining and you have no umbrella, no coat and no rain poncho. Wow, you are tough!” It was something to that affect anyway, and I warmed on the spot.
You see, at that point my feet felt like they were frozen in blocks of ice, my carefully applied makeup was streaming down my face, my gown was a besotted mess and my hair looked like it had just poured out of a blender! I was afraid that my appearance alone would send people scurrying! But to hear that I was ‘tough’- well that was affirmation!
I raised my gloveless, frigid fingers into the air, made big fists and shouted YAY! Yes, a Goddess should be tough, cause this kind of stuff isn’t for the feint of heart! And after all, it was toughness that forged Nyx in the first place -the pure grit and determination of Captain Julie Lea that got the Krewe rolling against all odds and then pushed the envelope even further by making Nyx the biggest in all of Mardi Gras! Pretty tough stuff- I was in good company!
So many people have asked me how I got to be Goddess Nyx VII, and well, I’ve got to say it was just a whim at first. My husband had just chucked in a lucrative Engineering Career to become a State Policeman. He got his mid-life crisis thing going on and well, I wanted mine! He couldn’t exactly argue with me. So I answered the email seeking Goddess candidates and signed up.
Later, I had an interview with the board and I fell under their spell immediately. What an incredible group of ladies-so varied, so talented, so committed, but most of all, so welcoming. I didn’t know any of them prior to that night, but they made me feel like a Goddess from the minute I sat down. I told them if you don’t pick me for Goddess, no worries- I just want to be involved. I want to jump in and be a part of it all. I want what you have-that camaraderie and the sheer bond that comes from toiling for hours together forging something bigger than you. What I didn’t realize was that I was already getting dosed with Nyx magic simply by being a member. I had met ladies I never would have met in my world outside of Nyx. They come from all walks of life, shapes, sizes, colors, socio-economic backgrounds and some with experiences I have only read about. I have met some of the sweetest, kindest and craziest Sisters ever! That never would have happened without Nyx. They make Nyx magic. Being Goddess has meant that I’ve been afforded a little more of that magic.
I’ve continued to meet more and more amazing Nyx Sisters- finding common interests and experiencing uncommonly good fun! I have a few more months to reign and I’m going to keep soaking it all in. And when I help crown Goddess VIII this fall, I hope she feels that magic too- because I do believe there’s plenty to go around in this Krewe. I’ll be taking mine with me.
Karen Boudrie Greig is reigning Goddess Nyx VII. She is a five year member of the Mystic Krewe of Nyx.
The last time I saw my 115 riders, mostly everyone was huddled together under tarps in the torrential downpour during our Wednesday night ride. This was our absolute best year and we can’t wait to showcase our love for the krewe through our made-with-love-and-a-little-wine 2019 Title Float Headdresses.
Jody’s Float is a community of women, sisters, who spend time getting to know each other through social events and weekly, sometimes daily, headdress crafting parties. We are a float of mothers, students, wives and friends who sometimes take the lead, and sometimes help support. We have the biggest float in the krewe and we believe in the power of sisterhood. We ARE NYX sisters.
I have been a Krewe of Nyx Float Lieutenant for the past six years and we have always been Jody’s Float. Over the last seven years, as the floats have grown from 30 riders to 60 riders to 80 riders and 100+ riders, float names have become an important part of the riding experience. Members take a lot of pride in their float names, giving each float its own sense of identity. Glitter Girls, Leading Ladies, Ladies of Mystery, the Glitta Hittas, and Blingtastic Krewe are just a few examples of the creativity riders bring to their float names. Our float flirted with the idea of changing our name to something more creative, but we just couldn’t think of a new name. So, we are Jody’s Float, the 2019 Title Float. And we have alot of pride in that name.
As I turn the page on this year’s ride, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on this past year. My float was the biggest float in the parade and I embraced that honor with pride. However, managing a Mardi Gras Float full of women is a labor love – alot of love, ALOT OF LABOR and more love. This year new leaders emerged, and it was easy for me to delegate responsibilities. We have a Rock Star Treasurer, a different lead for each of our events including float meetings, holiday parties, happy hours, and many more engaged members who stand ready to lend their time and support to creating an amazing experience. Our Headdress Chair is one of the most creative people I have ever met. She is calm, yet authoritative (in a great way!) while engaging everyone who shows up to help paint, glitter and glue. One rider orders the wigs, one rider is in charge of music, one rider oversees the swag and another rider can always be counted on to bring extra food and drinks for our events. Different riders host events in their homes while other riders volunteer to help with costume pickup, float loading and more. I love having the awesome responsibility of building a community for my riders, but we all play a role in making that happen.
At every event, whether it be a NYX Newbie 101 meeting, Wacky Sweater Holiday Party, or the upcoming Brunch, we ALWAYS do an “icebreaker.” My riders may roll their eyes to each other, but I know they love it and appreciate it. It’s how we start the connection that turns into a community and a sisterhood.
In the middle of last year, I was asked to join the Mystic Krewe of Nyx board. I have been at both ends of the table when it comes to board involvement. I have sat on many boards and committees throughout my career and I run my own board as the Girls on the Run Executive Director. Being a good board member is not an easy task. And being a Krewe of Nyx board member is no exception. Running an organization of over 3300 women is extremely demanding and the Mystic Krewe of Nyx board members volunteer hundreds of hours behind the scenes to make it happen. Learning how to work closely with different types of people and learning how to trust each other has been both challenging and rewarding. And FUN! It has been an honor to work together with eight dedicated women who take time away from their families and friends and jobs to make sure every detail is perfect.
I have learned alot this past year as a Mystic Krewe of Nyx board member. Although there are the frustrations that go along with any type of board work, the blossoming friendships, the unwavering support of sisters, the fun times and the laughs make it all worthwhile. As the Krewe grows, change is inevitable. Great changes are ahead and I’m sure some mistakes will be made along the way. But I can promise you that when you walk into the 2019 NYX MYX Ball, you will experience a sense of awe and amazement. I promise the board spent time brainstorming ideas to make sure you throw the most unique and sought after throws. And I promise you your board spent hours planning and executing events so members can get to know each other while raising money for charities and Nyx sisters in need. It’s a privilege for me to be a part of it.
The Mystic Krewe of Nyx is more than a parade, more than a social club, it’s a family and a true sisterhood. Year seven was my best year yet, so I can only imagine what year eight will bring as the winner of the Title Float. My volunteer role and work as a Nyx board member helped me to truly appreciate the magic of Nyx. I am honored and humbled to lead the 115 sisters on Jody’s Float as we take our place on the Title Float in 2019.
Jody is a Charter Member of the Krewe of Nyx as well as a Charter Float Lieutenant. She also serves on the Nyx Board of Directors as the Director of Fundraising. You can read some of her other writings about the Krewe of Nyx which have been published in her series: Goddesses of the Night and Goddess of the Night My Secret Life .
In the Spring of 2012 I made a life changing decision when I decided to join the Mystic Krewe of Nyx. I really wanted to be a part of a women’s krewe and had watched the very first Nyx parade roll in 2012 in the pouring rain. As my first months passed I attended any event that I could to meet people. The Krewe’s signature throw was a decorated purse and I was very intimidated by the thought of having to do these. I attended my first purse decorating party in October with absolutely no clue of what I was getting involved in. The thought of glittering a purse frightened me but I knew I needed to do it. During that party, as the group chatted away, the idea of having a way to track where our purses went was born. I walked away from that event with my very first decorated purse and went home. It was after that event that I sat down one day and created on Facebook a new page called the Nyx Purse Tracker.
It began small and the first year only had a couple hundred followers. The idea was that riders could add a card, label, or tag that asked the recipient to take a photo of themselves with their catch and post it to the Purse Tracker page so that we could see where and to who our creations went to. I remember getting up the morning after the 2013 parade and taking a look at it. Posts were going up. That year we only had a relatively small handful of posts. About 50 people posted their photos on the page.
The next year I decided to start posting teaser photos of purses prior to the parade. This was a fun way to feature some of our creations and get interest from the public to attend the parade. That year I did a purse countdown to the parade and posted a new photo each day for the 50 days prior to the parade. I have always been very stringent on my self-imposed rules on posting photos. Photos had to be unique to the page and not have been posted previously. So if a rider posted a photo to the page themselves I would not repost that as a feature photo. I was careful to seek permission from the creator to post their photos. Some riders gave me carte blanche permission to use any photo they had. I love those riders! It makes the job so much easier. Gathering photos for a countdown is the hardest part. As the 2014 parade approached I was getting messages from all over asking “How can I catch a purse?” So I started telling people to make signs. It was a thrill that year to see Purse Tracker signs on the parade route.
That year we had about 150 people post photos. The excitement was also building with the riders who search Nyx Purse Tracker trying to catch a post of one of their creations. The whole idea is completely voluntary on both ends so there is no requirement to put a card on a purse and of course there is no way to ensure that even if there is a card on your purse that the recipient will post a photo. But after that 2nd year the site was off and running. It was growing practically by the minute. Interaction between riders and followers grew as more and more teaser photos were posted. By 2015 the followers had grown to almost 2000 and instead of a 50 day countdown I did a 100 day countdown. I learned along the way that posts that I made at 6 am had more impact than one posted later in the day. Based on that information I began scheduling posts to hit early in the morning to have the most reach possible. I have connected with people from all over the world through Nyx Purse Tracker and photos have been posted from many different countries. We even had one recipient take her purse along with her on her travels. We never knew where the traveling purse was going next and it was fun to find out when she posted a photo.
I also met a number of people through Nyx Purse Tracker. Two really stand out for me. One was a lady that reached out asking how could she catch a purse. I of course told her to make a sign. We conversed back and forth a bit on what that sign should say. I finally told her to put “Jackie From Maryland” on the sign so I would know who she was. As we rolled down Napoleon there she was with her sign exclaiming who she was and I managed to throw her the bag I had prepared for her. After the parade she posted her picture and we continued to converse and became friends on Facebook.
The 2nd person that stands out that connected with me is a lady who posted a photo. As we rolled down Magazine Street a man came up to me begging for a purse for his wife. You KNOW that story. I laughed and said “You really have a wife? Where is your wife?” He pointed back to a lady in the crowd who was waving away. I gave him that purse! Later Pamela posted a photo and we also connected and became friends. I had never met them in person. One lived in Maryland and one in Michigan.
This past year both of those ladies rode a couple spots away from me in their first Nyx parade as my Nyx sisters. So the bottom line is that Purse Tracker now has over 5700 followers and is growing every day. It has become a place for people to connect all over the love of Nyx and catching purses. It has even helped get a rider’s actual personal purse that she accidentally threw off the float back to her when the person who caught it posted asking for help in returning it.
This past year we had hundreds of photos posted from all over the world. Seeing a creation you made in the hands of its new owner and loved as much as we loved them provides a feeling like no other. We would love to have thousands of photos posted next year. Please follow along on our purse journey by liking our page. https://www.facebook.com/NyxPurseTracker/
Del Hamilton is a seven year member of the Krewe of Nyx. She is also a Float Lieutenant and assists the krewe with its preservation of archives. Additionally, she is a connoisseur of purse decorating! Watch her making some beautiful Nyx purses for the 2018 parade .
Join me as I interview many different Mardi Gras Captains from across the New Orleans Metro area for a behind the scenes look at how traditions are formed and how parades are staged.
For my first blog in this series, I sit down with my friend Bobby Hjortsberg, the Captain of the Krewe of Freret.
JL In doing research on the Krewe of Freret, I know y’all were founded in 2011, and first paraded in 2014. Congratulations on that! What made you and the other founders decide to use the name of a former krewe, The Krewe of Freret?
BH We have been asked this question a lot and most people don’t believe the answer. Founder Brendan Ryan came up with the name because of our association with Freret Street. We all went to Loyola and Freret St. was a big part of our lives, thus we became the Krewe of Freret. We had no idea there was previously a Krewe of Freret until we filed formal paperwork with the state.
JL Parading in New Orleans has so many traditions and one of them is the signature throw. Tell me about yours and how you guys came up with it.
BH We wanted to do something handmade like many other Krewe’s now do. We thought doing masks was an obvious choice for Carnival. We also wanted to throw something people could put on immediately and in a way, become part of the parade.
JL Something very unique about the Krewe of Freret that I find very interesting, and others may not be aware of is, y’all do a Public Coronation each year. Can you share with me details about that event?
BH So this just kind of evolved which I guess is how many great ideas come about. We wanted to watch the first parade of the year together as a Krewe so Brendan and I walked the entire route of Krewe du Vieux to determine the best spot to set up. Elysian Fields and Royal worked out well because of the amount of neutral ground space there. Once we picked the spot, founder Greg Rhoades noted that Elysian Fields is traditionally “the final resting place of the souls of the heroic and virtuous” in Greek Mythology. Royal street is obviously a nod to royalty. Thus our Royals begin their reign there and also turn it over to the next royals in the same place. When they give up the crown they are going to their figurative final resting place.
JLHow did the hashtag #BeMardiGras come about?
BH #BeMardiGras came about as a result of the masks. We wanted people to immediately put the masks Bon that we threw and tag them on Social Media. This allowed folks to actively participate in our parade while at the same time giving the riders a cool look at where their throws ended up.
JL What’s the biggest surprise to you about being a Mardi Gras Krewe Captain?
BH The amount of work that goes into it. It is a year around almost every day job and we only have 400 riders. The amount of time and planning that goes into a 3 hour event is truly mind boggling.
JL You and I have shared some great memories through the years celebrating at different events. I have pictures to prove it! What would you say is your greatest Mardi Gras memory since the Krewe of Freret has hit the streets?
BH My greatest Mardi Gras memory was the first time our floats turned onto St. Charles avenue in 2014. The weather was perfect and the crowds were enormous. It was also the first time I had ever ridden in a parade. Although I had been invited to ride many times before, I wanted to save the experience for when we finally pulled it off on our own. It was worth it!
JL What’s the best piece of advice you ever got about running a krewe and who was it from?
BH I bet I know why you asked this question lol. The best piece of advice I ever got about running the Krewe of Freret was don’t wait. We were told not to wait until we thought we were ready to get a permit or until we were “big enough” because we would never feel ready for such a huge step. We were also told if we waited we would never get it because the competition for permits was growing and there were only a finite number of them left. It was you of course who gave us this advice. Without that guidance its a pretty safe bet that we would have never been successful in getting a permit and ultimately fulfilling our dream of parading down St. Charles ave. We will forever be grateful for that piece of advice and all of the other help we got from you and Nyx along this awesome journey!
The feeling of attending Mardi Gras is incomparable with any feeling, but being at the forefront of the parade is a feeling indescribable.
Mardi Gras is a must in New Orleans. It is one of the celebrations of the year with exciting sights and sounds and floats. You will never know the worth of the season until you attend one. It is not enough for you to attend, you must plan it carefully to relinquish every moment.
Yes, millions all over the world love the Mardi Gras. People plan their trips just to get a feel of the Mardi Gras celebration. As exciting as this sounds, nothing can be compared when you are part of the parade team. To be part of the parade, you must be join a krewe.
The Mardi Gras season is the season where every kind of dressing is simply imaginable. It is an event-loaded period with contests for the best costumes with the crowd watching with much as much fun and enthusiasm as the parades themselves.
You cannot talk about the Mardi Gras without making mention of beads, stuffed animals, cups, and doubloons. You will hear the crowd cheering, “Throw me something, Mister!” at the riders of the floats. Get ready with your cloth bag or sturdy plastic to get a hold of all treasures thrown at you. You must be ready for the fun because some people due to over-excitement may grab the beads you have collected. The fun never ends until midnight on Mardi Gras night.
Each year the Mystic Krewe of Nyx parades on the Wednesday night before Mardi Gras. If you have the chance to see it, you won’t be disappointed. Just yell for the ladies “Throw me something Sister!” to catch some of the fun swag and useful throws that Nyx is known for.
Written by: Julie Couret. Julie is a charter member of the Mystic Krewe of Nyx. She is a leadership team development coach and CEO of her company, 7602coach.com.
In the off season of Carnival, I sat down with Mystic Krewe of Nyx Founder and Captain Julie Lea. With a krewe of over 3,300 women founded only seven years ago, I was eager to hear the correlation between Julie’s role in creating from nothing New Orleans’ supreme all female super krewe.
Me: Julie, you’ve been an organizational leader in your career. What is the primary similarity between leading a carnival krewe and a workplace team?
Julie L: I think leading a parade is the same as leading a team in the workplace because in both situations you need people to buy into the organizations missions and goals. In the workplace employees are paid a salary to carry out those goals and missions.
In a parade it is different because the members of the organization pay to have fun and are there because they want to be. They are there for entertainment and enjoyment away from their jobs and other responsibilities.
Me: That is an interesting point, these women choose to be a part of Nyx. Julie, you mentioned “buy in” as a key piece in the organization, whether that woman is sitting in a cubicle or standing on a float. Tell me more.
Julie L: Leading people is really the same no matter what the title or specific job. You have make people feel valued and a part of what you are trying to accomplish. As Krewe Captain I have to clearly let my members know my expectations so we put our best foot forward to the community in our parade and other events throughout the year. In turn, I listen to them and adjust plans at times based on suggestions and ideas to improve the way we do things. Most people are extremely proud to belong to a group or organization. I always strive to build on that pride to make us the best we can be.
Me: As a Nyx member myself, I personally understand that feeling of pride to be representing this krewe and at the same time, being a part of something bigger than me. And you provided this opportunity for me and several other thousand women. And we know the path wasn’t paved when you went to create this krewe. That has got to feel good!
Julie L: The legacy I hope to leave in the pages of Mardi Gras history is that I was a leader who saw an opportunity to bring women together. That I didn’t take no for an answer and created an amazing Sisterhood. I also hope I’m remembered as a leader who pushed the envelope. My wish is that the Krewe of Nyx will remain a source of joy and happiness for women and the community of New Orleans long after I am gone.
How does a fabulous purse become a beautiful float in Mardi Gras, New Orleans’ greatest free show on earth?
Learn how an idea comes full circle to reality. The end result is pretty amazing! We love what you did sisters! This amazing float is the only “purse of its kind.” We love that Nyx created an original. Its quite a sight to see to a giant purse rolling down the streets during carnival.
Read the story, from concept to reality of how the biggest Mardi Gras Parading Krewe in history made their Purse Float come to life.
For oneMardi Gras Krewedown in New Orleans, they throw coveted hand decorated purses to the crowds as special treasures. Each purse thrown from members of the Mystic Krewe of Nyx to the sea of people who come see their parade, is a special exchange between the rider and the person who catches it.
So the krewe decided to turn that special treasure, the purse, into aMardi Gras float. How exactly does that happen? It all starts with a concept and taking an idea and putting it on paper from an artist who understands the vision of the captain to make the visual connection between the idea and putting it on paper.
For the Krewe of Nyx, the concept of the purse float was created early in 2012, just one year after the krewe was formed. The vision was for a huge purse to carry riders down St. Charles Avenue during the parade. Wanting the purse float to be visually appealing, sturdy, and safe were of the utmost concern.
After months of tweaking the concept, the artist came up with a beautiful rendering of what the float would look like and a sketch was made.
Once everyone was in agreement to the plan and the concept, the next difficult part of the process was taking the design to the float builder to make sure that the purse could actually be turned into a float. Mardi Gras in New Orleans has some of the most beautiful floats in the world. And while they are visually appealing, they have to be structurally sound and safe.
How many riders the float will hold, and much how much weight the chassis can support to accommodate that number of riders is really where it all begins in terms of the bones of the structure. The size of the float as far as dimensions are concerned is also a big decision. The next decisions to be made are will the float be a single or double decker, where the bathroom will be located, and how riders will get on and off. Once these major decisions are made, the builder must decide which materials to use to make the float. The Nyx Krewe had a lot of decisions to make.
Design ideas are thrown around for several months about lighting, painting, colors to use and how to make the purse one of the prettiest floats in Mardi Gras.
It was decided for this particular Mardi Gras float, the size would be 14ft high, 10 ft wide, and 30 feet long. How the riders would appear coming out the top of the purse was another challenge that the engineers had to overcome.
For the Krewe of Nyx, the brand new purse float made its debut on the streets of New Orleans in the 2016 parade for the krewe’s 5th anniversary. 16 lucky ladies rode down St. Charles Avenue in a huge pink purse that became the first signature Mardi Gras float for Nyx. It is a spectacular sight to see each year, and the end result was surely worth the wait.
It took four years from concept to reality and is the pride of the krewe. From one simple idea is how a fabulous purse became a Mardi Gras float.