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Top 5 Mardi Gras Movies, Part 3, "By Invitation Only"




Top 5 Mardi Gras Movies, Part 3, "By Invitation Only"

Vernon T. Hightower

#3. By Invitation Only (2006)

This short documentary is about New Orleans Mardi Gras Societies. To be more specific than that, it’s about the really old Mardi Gras Societies.

And, to be even more specific than that, it’s about how these really old (think 1800’s) Societies still exist and may be racist.

In 1991, the City of New Orleans passedan ordinance saying that Carnival clubs cannot discriminate against anyone based on “race, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, physical condition or disability”. (

A nice gesture that may, or may not, have made any difference. The only thing that I know happened for sure is that the Mistick Krewe of Comus, the oldest Mardi Gras Society in New Orleans, quit parading.

But rather than discuss social issues here on the blog, I’ll just tell you the facts about what this movie is about:

A young lady, who is the daughter of a person who is involved in some of the old Carnival traditions, brings her boyfriend home for Mardi Gras. He is black, and therefore she is not chosen to be Queen of Carnival, something we are led to believe was her birthright. Instead, she must sit on the sidelines and watch another girl become Queen.

The King of Mardi Gras in New Orleans is Rex (Felix here in Mobile), and even though Carnival was originally about crowning a peasant as King (Lord of Misrule), it is apparent in this documentary that the families that the Kings, Queens, and Courts of Mardi Gras come out of, truly are the Kings and Queens of New Orleans Society and, probably, hold equivalent power in that city.

Anyway, I know it’s a downer, but over the years, both in New Orleans and Mobile and anywhere else that celebrates Mardi Gras, it’s the people who have really made Mardi Gras their own that make it fun. Not the bluebloods who only let 1% of the population participate in their little (boring) parties. You can order a copy of the dvd, and watch a preview, here.


Check out the rest of the posts in The Top 5 Mardi Gras Movies series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5, and Honorable Mention.