A Mardi Gras Parade in Deep Ellum: Scenes From the Free Man's New Tradition

Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Deep Ellum got a taste of Mardi Gras this weekend in the best possible way. In order to mark the occasion, Commerce Street's The Free Man Cajun Cafe organized a proper New Orleans second line horn parade that circled the neighborhood. Owner and proprietor John Jay Myers lead the charge on bass drum, while 10 to 15 of The Free Man's regularly showcased musicians and a crowd of about 70 followed.

Buzzing patrons met at the Free Man, where the festivities started off at 6 p.m. sharp. The band started down Commerce and toward the Alligator Cafe on Elm Street. Trombones and trumpets blared while a saxophone adorned with silk roses performed a solo down the street. People stepped out into the street to take pictures and ended up joining the march themselves. Beads were thrown, scarves were waved and flamboyant multicolored costumes abounded.

After a fifteen minute beer break at Alligator Cafe, we started back down Elm toward Deep Ellum's newest New Orleans themed bar, Twilight Lounge. Kids in line for the sold-out Dom Kennedy show at Trees cheered and caught beads while taking iPhone videos. The band played "When The Saints Go Marching In," and for a second, it felt like the whole neighborhood was singing along together. We marched through the front doors of Twilight, strutting and dancing to the back patio where the party continued.

After another drink stop, we were back down Elm, heading for the big finale where we had started at The Free Man. As patrons overflowed the sidewalk, traffic behind the parade slowed to a snail's pace. Some honked out of annoyance, others out of support. As the band reprised "When The Saints Go Marching," one thing was clear: Deep Ellum needs more public music.

Luckily, if you missed The Free Man's Mardi Gras kick off, you have another chance to make it to the party. On Fat Tuesday, The Free Man will host another parade in an attempt to outdo themselves.

See also: -The 100 Best Texas Songs: The Complete List -The Ten Most Badass Band Names in DFW -The Best Bands in DFW: 2012 Edition -Photo Essay: The Tattoos of Dallas' Nightlife Scene

Keep up with DC9 at Night on Twitter or Facebook.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.