Zulu, a New Orleans Institution

Erick Barker and Omari Timmerman

On Mardi Gras, the sounds of men, women, and children screaming to the people of  Zulu as they pass by on their parade floats is breathtaking to the bystanders that wish they had their precious coconuts that the krewe decorated. Meanwhile as the floats go by, the second liners are dancing to the sound of the bands. All together the whole parade feels like a gigantic wonderland.

Mardi Gras is a large part of the New Orleans culture. It has changed throughout time with the addition of Krewes and even Super Krewes. Taking their name from the African tribe of Zulu, the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club was founded in 1909. Their goal is to bring joy to the New Orleans community hence why they have never missed a Mardi Gras parade since their inception. They have had such famous celebrities as Louis Armstrong and prominent city counsel members.

To learn more information behind the Zulu Club, we interviewed  a member that has been in the Zulu club for about 5 years. One thing that really brought attention to my group and I was what the facepaint means and what it represents. Don’t many of you wonder this? He responded, “The facepaint can represent and mean many things but mostly show who you are and to express yourself.” A very big question that came to mind is why Zulu uses coconuts and why they throw them, I know many of you have thought this before if you have experienced Mardi Gras. He says ,“Zulu is an African culture and coconuts are a very big thing in places like the Caribbean and they’re basically a reminder of where we come from”, now you know the reasons of these coconuts especially when they hit your head. Have you ever been to a second line, or a parade, and saw the people drunk while they’re dancing, he responds “It’s to show your true self and be free and just have a good time and get into a deeper expression with yourself.” So far, my group realized that Zulu expressing themselves is really important. The final question we asked was why the person we interviewed joined the Zulu club? “My opinion is it’s for bringing the whole community together but also New Orleans together to make peace and have fun, but Zulu exists for many different reasons.” So this is how he feels about Zulu. He’s only been in it for a few years so imagine what life can be like as a Zulu member?

Zulu is an incredible krewe and has contributed to the New Orleans Spirit for over 100 years and continues to do so to this very day.

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