Interview date: 1.03.13
John Magill is a historian and curator at The Historic New Orleans Collection. According to John,"The first New Orleans Mardi Gras would have been in 1719". John tells us that cross dressing at Mardi Gras was common during these early celebrations. While men did dress as women, and women as men, slaves also dressed as masters, and masters dressed as slaves. Some slaves dressed as native American Indians: John suggests that perhaps today's Mardi Gras Indians developed, in part, out of this early practice. By the mid-eighteenth century, elegant Mardi Gras balls were becoming established. However, by the 1850s, Mardi Gras had become very rowdy and many city official were calling for an end to Mardi Gras.
Listen as John explains how the Mystic Krewe of Comus saved Mardi Gras in 1857.
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