New Orleans

Mardi Gras

Creole Balls

The ball, which is a prominent feature of a Creole carnival, is a wonderful combination of Nineteenth Century aristocratic ideas and of Oriental humor. The guests are in full dress, and represent the highest elements of Southern society. Around the carpeted floor, those who have taken part in the pageant march in their grotesque costumes. An apparently blood-thirsty Indian, brandishing a club over his head, darts for a second from the line to go through the motions of dashing out the brains of perhaps a most intimate friend, who has no idea who has thus honored him by a recognition.

Another man, who in everyday life is, perhaps, a sedate banker or a prominent physician, is masquerading in some extraordinary attire with a mask of extraordinary dimensions and significance. He sees in the throng a young lady of his acquaintance, and proceeds to shake hands with her with great effusion. So well is the secret kept, that she has no idea that the apparently frolicsome youth is a middle-aged man of business, and she spends perhaps half the night wondering which of her beaus this fearfully and wonderfully disguised man was.

Of the balls which succeed carnivals in the cities which delight in these temporary divorces from the cares of business and finance, pages might be written. One ball only need be mentioned in any detail. This is the ball given by the "Knights of Revelry," in connection with and at the expense of the Mobile clubs. The entire theatre was rearranged in illustration of the theme of the club's pageant for the year. All around the halls were hung tapestries and banners, artistically decorated, and arranged so as to convey the idea of forests and gardens. The very doors were converted into mimic entrances to caves and parterres, and the general effect was entrancing as well as sentimental. The band was hidden from the guests in a most delightfully arranged little Swiss chalet, and refreshments were served from miniature garden pavilions. The very floors upon which the dancing was to take place were decorated so as to present the appearance of a newly mown lawn.

The height of realism was attained by means of an imitation moat over the orchestra well. Across this was a drawbridge, which was raised and dropped at fitting intervals, and the drop curtain was made to represent a massive castle door. There was a banquet chamber, with faultless reproductions of mediaeval grandeur and wonder. Stained glass windows represented well-known and attractive ladies, and there were other marvelous and costly innovations which seemed practically impossible within a theatre.

At this ball, as at all others, the revelry proceeded until midnight. Just as Cinderella left the ball when the clock struck 12, so do the holders of the Creole revels stop dancing immediately that Lent has commenced. The next day all is over. Men who the night before were the leaders in the masquerade, resume their commonplace existence, and are seen at the ordinary seats of custom, buying and selling and conducting themselves like Eastern rather than Southern men.

The United States: its Wonders, its Beauties, and its People; with Descriptive Notes, Character Sketches, Folk Lore, Traditions, Legends and History, for the Amusement of the Old and the Instruction of the Young.

BY JAMES COX, Author of "Our Own Country," "Missouri at the World's Fair," "Old and New St. Louis," "An Arkansas Eden," "Oklahoma Revisited," Etc., 1903
"Breathes there a man with soul so dead
Who never to himself has said,
This is my own,my native land."
Project Gutenberg

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