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Southern Decadence is an annual six-day event held in New Orleans, Louisiana by the gay and lesbian community during Labor Day Weekend, climaxing with a parade through the French Quarter on the Sunday before Labor Day.

History of Southern Decadence

The event traces its beginnings to August 1972, as a party among a group of 40–50 friends. They billed their event as "Southern Decadence Party: Come As Your Favorite Southern Decadent." People who attended were required to dress as their favorite decadent Southerner. The first small "parade" occurred the following year, when the participants first met at a bar in the French Quarter to show off their costumes and then walk back home along Esplanade Avenue. This first group impersonated people and characters ranging from Belle Watling (the prostitute character in Gone With the Wind) and Mary Ann Mobley to Tallulah Bankhead and Helen Keller. The event expanded, with the first Grand Marshal of the event appointed by members of the original group in 1974.

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Decadence, as it is commonly known by participants, is marked by parades, bead tossing, street parties and dance parties. In these ways it resembles New Orleans Mardi Gras, however, Southern Decadence tends to be more sexual in tone and is generally geared towards more upscale and mature revelers. Decadence crowds in the Quarter typically match or exceed Mardi Gras crowds. Most events take place in the French Quarter, centered at the intersection of Bourbon and St. Ann streets.

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Southern Decadence is a Themed Event

Themes were presented on and off from the beginning, but did not become a consistent fixture of the event until "Circus Came To Town" theme in 1990. They have been featured every year that the Decadence has been held since then. They have ranged from themes as varied as "Voodoo That You Do", "Menage a Trois", "Ancient Truths, Lies, and Sacrifice", "HURRICANE, and They Blow Back.” Last year’s theme was was "Live, Laugh, and Love" and the official colors were fuchsia pink, tangerine orange and gold. The official song was Feel The Moment.”


2014 Grand Marshalls (L to R)

Aubury Sinclair

Chad Boutte

Reba Douglas

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