Female Mardi Gras krewes have long waiting lists



Posted on February 1, 2012 at 7:20 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 3 at 3:23 PM

Katie Moore / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS - Some Carnival krewes have had sluggish membership and ridership in recent years because of the economy. But one part of the Carnival population has been going gangbusters in recent years: women.

The all female krewes have thousands of women on waiting lists to get in.

In a little more than a decade, the Krewe of Muses has become a crowd favorite during carnival, lighting up the night the Thursday before Mardi Gras.

“Right from the beginning, we were just shocked by the number of women that were interested in joining. We had a waiting list from the very first year,” said Staci Rosenberg, Captain and founder of Muses.

She just thought it would be fun to start a night-time all-female parade. But the riders, who spent Wednesday packing up beads for the big day, are now a select group. Muses had to cut off ridership. They even had to cut off the waiting list at a thousand in 2010.

“When we were open, and we think we will be again at some point, we were open to any women over the age of 18. You didn't have to know anyone. You didn't have to be friends with anyone. There was no special qualification at all,” Rosenberg said.

Muses has added even more to the fabric of carnival. Dancing and walking troupes, like the Bearded Oysters, started simply to march in Muses.

Many of the troupes are all-female.

And now, their handmade oysters are added embellishments for the parade.

“I think women have always participated in Mardi Gras but they've always been behind the scenes and it seems now that they really wanna get in the street and dance,” said Karina Nathan, founder of the Bearded Oysters.

The oysters started with a group of 40. Now they're up to 500.

“We'll be using these to further accentuate our moves,” Nathan said, showing off a stretchy silver arm cuff, with white fringe hanging off of it.

You can just about count all the metro-area female krewes on one hand. But this year, New Orleans is getting another one called Nyx, named after the goddess of night.

“The response to our krewe has just been tremendous. We have so many wonderful, enthusiastic ladies. I am just overwhelmed,” said Sandy Simpson, Co-Captain and Vice President of the Krewe of Nyx.

They held their inaugural ball last weekend, and in less than a year, their membership has blossomed to more than 500. They, too, have a waiting list larger than the number of riders.

“It exceeded our expectations,” Simpson said.

The question now is, will their first parade two weeks from Wednesday?

WWL-TV’s Karen Swensen will be the very first Nyx Celebrity Goddess featured in the parade.