Freestyle: ‘Mardi Gras Ball’ debuts

Feb. 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Mardi Gras Carnaval is coming right up, on Fat Tuesday, March 4. Get ready for dancing in the streets, like this musical crew did last year in Chinatown. (Kat Wade photo courtesy Mardi Gras Carnaval)

The Mardi Gras Carnaval is coming up on Fat Tuesday, March 4. Get ready for dancing in the streets, like this musical crew did last year in Chinatown. (Courtesy photo)


Are you ready for Mardi Gras? For those following Catholic tradition, Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the last day before the restrictive days of Lent. It’s also a time to let it all hang out in the tradition of some free-spirited cultures, most especially that of New Orleans.


» Where: Manifest, 32 N. Hotel St.
» When: 7-10 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26
» Cost: $20

New Orleans-style joie de vivre and the Crescent City’s vibrant roots music are passions for Honolulu lawyer Mark Tarone, who’s made his mark on the culture of Honolulu by promoting an annual Mardi Gras Carnaval and Hallowbaloo, both lively, music-filled block parties in Chinatown. The 14th annual Carnaval goes down on Fat Tuesday, March 4.

It’s always a great time, with marching drummers and musicians, floats, costumes, beads, food, drink and revelry. After the street festival, clubs throughout Chinatown host a surge of thrill-seekers who want to let the good times roll on.

Mardi Gras Carnaval is a big undertaking. Tarone supplies floats for groups who would like to decorate one and take part in the flamboyant procession through the streets, arranges for music and costumed performers to fill the streets with sound and sights, and handles the other myriad logistical details.

To keep the party coming, he’s hoping to build up some more community participation and support. And what better way to do that than by holding another party?

These two revelers from the 2013 Carnaval in Chinatown show how to get into the Mardi Gras spirit. (Kat Wade photo courtesy Mardi Gras Carnaval)

Revelers from the 2013′ Carnaval in Chinatown show how to get into the Mardi Gras spirit. (Courtesy photo)

BRING ON the “Mardi Gras Ball,” billed by Tarone as an “unforgettable night of filled with gastronomic delights, laughter, dancing … and a healthy dose of debauchery.”

There will be entertainment: Mardi Gras-themed music and dancing. (“It will be good,” Tarone promised.) There will be (free) food, in the traditions of New Orleans, the Caribbean and Brazil.

There will be masks, beads and feathers, fleur de lys and colorful dress.

“The more energy emitted by your dress, the better,” Tarone advised.

The “Mardi Gras Ball” is an early entree to the pleasurable traditions of Mardi Gras, including a New Orleans trademark grouping — the krewe.

This year, Tarone has called party-loving and community-minded friends to join him in Honolulu’s first krewe. In the absurdist tradition of Mardi Gras, these trendsetters are calling themselves Krewe of Da Kine.

I’ve followed along as Krewe of Da Kine takes its baby steps, with members meeting up and signing on to help with the “Mardi Gras Ball” and Carnaval. With notable socialites and event organizers in the bunch, this should give a bump to the proceedings.

“It’s a long time coming,” Tarone said. “As far as I know, we’ve never had a krewe.”

With future events, he’d like to see more krewes form, taking over the process of creating individual floats. Chinatown establishments, arts groups and social clubs would be natural participants.

“The festival is all about floats and costumes,” Tarone noted. “If you’ve got tremendous floats and costumes, that resonates.”

In other words, the more fabulous, the better, and the more community involvement, the better.

“Lots of folks may like an outlet to express themselves and have some joy,” Tarone said.

Sounds good to me!

Stay tuned for specifics on a krewe float and entertainment, and keep watch at the Mardi Gras Carnaval Facebook page for a link to buy advance tickets to the “Mardi Gras Ball.”
Elizabeth Kieszkowski is editor of TGIF, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s weekly arts and entertainment section. Reach her via email at or follow her on Twitter.

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