NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 27:  The 610 Stompers participate in the 2017 Krewe of Orpheus Parade takes place on February 27, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images)

A guide to Carnival dance krewes and how to get in on the action

Floats are cool, but as a wise man once said, “It’s the stuff between the floats that makes Mardi Gras special.”

by Matt Haines | February 5, 2020

It has begun.

Of course, Carnival starts with Twelfth Night. But — for many of us — Chewbacchus is when [bleep] gets serious. Next weekend’s all about Krewe du Vieux, the weekend of the 14th is when loads of parades roll in succession down St. Charles Avenue, and then the next weekend…well, the next weekend is The Big Show.

Floats are cool. They’re actually very cool. But as a wise man (more likely a woman with a costume beard) once said, “It’s the stuff between the floats that makes Mardi Gras special.” (No offense if you’re on a float. I didn’t come up with that!)

Behind every great float (literally… just a few feet behind in most cases) is a spectacular dance krewe of local ladies and men strutting their choreographed stuff to tunes that’ll make you go, “Woo!” Watching those dancers (and, of course, the bands) makes Carnival feel like Carnival; so it shouldn’t come as a surprise when you inevitably begin to think, “Shoot. I should join a dance krewe next year.”


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You’ve had the idea before, you know it. Your ambition is in the right place, but your follow-through needs work. So I’m going to make it easy for you:

Here’s a list of all the New Orleans dance krewes I could find, along with at least a little information on how you might join. And, if you’re not convinced dancing is your calling, don’t forget most krewes also desperately need support staff, so you could always contact them about that!

Find a group you really like the parade route? Pull out this handy-dandy list and begin planning the best part of your next Mardi Gras today!

Alter Egos Steppers

This hard-working and age-diverse group of mothers, wives, sisters and daughters can be spotted dancing down the street in their purple wigs. This year, registration was in June and cost $50. You can text your email address to (504) 813-5587 for more information, and follow their Instagram to keep up-to-date!


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Amelia EarHawts Cabin Krewe

Not many people realize famed female pilot, Amelia Earhart, stopped in New Orleans on her final, tragic attempt to circle the globe. But that’s not the city’s only connection to the aviator. Today, a dance krewe honors her name, dancing down the street in as many as five parades each Carnival! There are no auditions, but membership typically opens in May, so keep an eye here — and follow their Facebook page — for an announcement about rehearsals and any fees for the season.


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Bearded Oysters

More than 850 women and men have participated with the Bearded Oysters since 2004. The main dance team consists of women as young as 21 and older than 70, and does not require any rehearsals. (Members can learn the simple choreography online before parades.) Membership is open year-round, but joining well before Carnival ensures you get a costume. Annual membership is $350, or you can try the krewe out for a single parade for only $200. These fees also cover your costume, including a Markin making kit. (I’ll leave it to you to look up what a Merkin is… but maybe not at work.)


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This krewe of Beyonce admirers opens their membership after Mardi Gras. For now, sign up for their waitlist so you don’t forget! Membership for next year is projected at $225, and all members need to attend 50% of rehearsals — which take place every Friday beginning in June. The group participates in parades year-round and welcomes Queen Bey-loving women of all body shapes and backgrounds!


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Black Storyville Baby Dolls

Inspired by the legendary women who costumed in the African American section of New Orleans’ red-light district beginning back in 1912, the Black Storyville Baby Dolls actually include several types of performers. In this piece, we’re focused on the Parasol Dance Troupe. To join, no dance experience is required, just a great attitude and willingness to learn the choreography. Membership fees start at $25 and can be paid at any time at the bottom of this page, and all questions can be directed here.


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Bloco Sereia

Bloco Sereia is a Brazilian-style Carnival group, based in New Orleans but with members from all over the globe. The group integrates multi-media arts into its parades, and showcases fusions of Afro-Brazilian rhythms and dances. You can email here to learn more about joining this eclectic and exciting krewe!


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Camel Toe Lady Steppers

This legendary group — earning its name because of some tight-fitting mail-order costumes during their founding — dances each year in the Muses parade. This 50-woman group typically holds auditions in August, but keep an eye on their Facebook page so you don’t miss it!


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The Companionettes

If you have fun dancing to sci-fi-based music with others who love the same thing, The Companionettes could be for you! The group is accompanied by live music from The Browncoat Brass and just completed their fifth year in Chewbacchus. They begin rehearsing six to eight weeks before Chewbaccus, and as needed throughout the year (like in advance of Midsummer Mardi Gras). Send them a message on their Facebook page or by email for more information on how to join.


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The Dance Connection

This group has been around since 1979 and welcomes female dancers as young as 15 years old to audition. Rehearsals take place every Saturday morning, beginning in September and lasting through Mardi Gras. Dancers are expected to make all rehearsals but can miss as many as three per season. Membership dues are $100 each year, but a one-time uniform fee of approximately $650 can make that first year more expensive than subsequent ones. Email The Dance Connection here for more information!


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Dancing in Uranus

This funky, multi-gender krewe is only in their second year on the parade route, but they’ve already got a lot of fans. If you want to inquire about joining, the best way is to join their Facebook group and send them a message.


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The Dead Rock Stars

The Dead Rock Stars are an all-male group committed to saluting a deceased music superstar each Mardi Gras. Past years have featured 150+ men executing their best Freddy Mercury, Prince, or Michael Jackson moves — all in costume, of course. Your $175 membership fee includes an open bar and food at noon the day the krewe marches in Muses, plus an(other) open bar and steak dinner on route. You’ll also need to purchase your costume, but members have no doubt it’s worth it to be part of this wild pack of performers. To join, check out their Facebook page where you can send them a message or find an organizer’s phone number.


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Dictator’s Dancin’ Darlings

This satirical group of male dancers has no internet presence minus a few videos posted on Instagram by paradegoers. So good luck figuring out how to join their ranks. In the past, they’ve dressed like bad football referees (I assume they were bad), oppressive North Korean rulers and Vatican police, so the best I can suggest is to holler at them when they pass in Krewe d’Etat and see if you can find out more information!


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Disco Amigos

This funky krewe of disco dancers believe if you can walk, then you can dance; and that’s why there’s no audition. To join, just send an email here with the subject line, “I want to be an Amigo!” Membership dues are $250 for the year, but if you want to try marching in a parade THIS YEAR (and receive a five-month trial membership) buy a ticket for the krewe’s Disco Train for just $100 + fees. Swing (or disco) by their website for more information.


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Golddigger Babydolls

Here’s another one of those krewes that don’t have a huge internet presence. But that’s okay, because they’re paying homage to a group that paraded beginning way back in the 1930s. The Golddigger Babydolls are more about second line steps than choreographed dance moves, and — rolling down the street in brightly colored little girl dresses, bloomers, and bonnets — there’s no way you’ll miss ‘em! The best way to contact them seems to be on Facebook.


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Dressed as old-timey waitresses, the Muff-a-Lottas have some of the most recognizable costumes of Carnival season. These ladies are busy, performing in no less than five parades before Mardi Gras, but they’ll open enrollment back up in April. Fill out this quick contact form to make sure you’re kept in the loop!


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New Orleans Baby Doll Ladies

You can find this group of dancing ladies — created in the image of all-female groups from early in the 20th century — each year in the Zulu parade. Faces painted, and parasols lifted, you can contact the New Orleans Baby Doll Ladies via their Facebook page for more information.


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NOLA Cherry Bombs

You can catch this all-woman dance troupe bopping down the street in their red tutus throughout Mardi Gras, and during parades throughout the year, as well. Send them an email or follow their Facebook page to find out when auditions for next season’s team will be!


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NOLA Chorus Girls

If you’ve ever wanted to parade as a flapper, but aren’t necessarily trained in dance, then NOLA Chorus Girls might be for you! Not to say this krewe of ladies aren’t good dancers. They’re just confident they’ll be able to teach you the moves! For more information email them, and sign up for their email list.


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NOLA Nyxettes

Are those the Rockettes?! Not exactly, but they’re even better because they’re from NOLA, baby! You’ll find them in Nyx, showing off their skills through styles as diverse as ballet, tap, jazz hip hop, salsa, gymnastics and cheerleading. Auditions take place each year between June and August, so follow them on Facebook and Twitter or contact them via their website to find out exactly when they’ll be.


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The Organ Grinders

In past centuries, an organ grinder would play an instrument on the street, often accompanied by a dancing monkey in a cute costume. This group of Organ Grinders are dressed up as the monkeys, bringing Mardi Gras cheer at several parades during Carnival. Check out their Facebook page and drop them a message to see when auditions for next year will take place.


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Oui Dats de la Nouvelle Orleans

Billed as the city’s sassiest dance krewe, Oui Dats features a group of women (ages 30 and over) dressed in the style of the French aristocracy of days gone by. The group is currently 30 members and growing, and auditions are typically held in the Spring. Keep an eye on their recruitment page or Facebook to keep up-to-date.


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Another all-woman group that requires members to be older than 30, the Pussyfooters are a 100+ member group that performs in nearly 50 parades, fundraisers and special events throughout the year. The krewe’s been around since 2001, but joining their ranks isn’t so easy. New members must be nominated by current members, but if you don’t currently know a Pussyfooter all hope isn’t yet lost. Keep in the know on their website and Facebook, then stop by one of their events — like their annual fundraiser, the Blush Ball — so you can get to know them. That can be your eventual ticket into the group!


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Ritmeaux Krewe

Ritmeaux is New Orleans’ first-ever Latin dance-focused marching krewe! But, fear not, no dance experience is necessary and all backgrounds and ethnicities are welcome. Dancers can also be any gender, and any age — 18 or older. The dance team’s annual fees are $150, which includes the uniform, and auditions are held in March and November. They practice twice a week during Carnival season, and once a week in the summer, and 60% of practices are mandatory. Check out their membership page to get started on your application!


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Roux La La

They call themselves “New Orleans’ official swamp steppin’, booty-shakin’, booze guzzlin’, pot stirrin’, GLITTER IN YOUR FACE female dance troupe.” So…of course you want to join! Auditions for new members take place in the spring, with a second audition opportunity scheduled for the fall. The routines aren’t complicated, but the group does want individuals who can follow basic dance instruction. Membership fees come out to about $400 for the year, and include costumes, truck rentals and supplies. Roux La La rehearses approximately once a week, and members are required to attend at least half of the rehearsals. Head to their Facebook page and inquire about their next available audition!


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610 Stompers

By now, just about everyone knows these “Ordinary Men with Extraordinary Moves.” They’ve performed at the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Kentucky Derby, and a whole lot of local parades, so auditions can be competitive. But, remember, they’re looking to see you have the look and attitude of a Stomper as much as the dance moves, so don’t be discouraged if you’re not a trained dancer…or rarely danced in your life. The group has men in their 20s all the way until their 80s, so sign up for their newsletter and get excited for their audition — held in the summer.


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689 Swampers

If the 610 Stompers were born in the bayou, emerging from their watery home on the back of an alligator, this is the group you’d get. Called the “Magic Feet from Lafitte,” this group shows off its moves in shrimp boots, neon orange knee socks, cut-off jeans and camo life preservers for good measure. Follow their Facebook page to see how you can be a part of this wild group!


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The Streetcar Strutters

This group of women — ages 30 and over — got their start in 2017 and can be found strutting down St. Charles Avenue in their hand-decorated conductor caps. Audition dates will be announced in February (last year they took place in April and May). If a woman is invited to join, they’ll need to attend three practices per month from June through December, and then one rehearsal a week from January through the end of Mardi Gras. Membership dues are $200 for the year but don’t include costumes, and members volunteer for at least three of the public charity events the krewe chooses each season. Keep an eye on the Strutters’ Facebook page and fill out their general inquiry form to stay in the loop!


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If tap dancing is your jam, then consider joining TAP DAT. They shuffle, ball and chain their way down the parade route in their green and gold costumes, and they welcome new members all year long. Follow them on Facebook, and send a message to learn your next steps for getting involved.


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Matt Haines

Matt Haines

Matt Haines lives in New Orleans and writes about all the cool stuff.
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