The Old Absinthe House

The Krewe of Proteus used the French flag as the design for their 1883 dance program. According to Arthur Burton Lacour in New Orleans Masquerade (1952), "dancing has always been closely associated with the celebration of Carnival in New Orleans and predominated at the masquerades of the first half of the Nineteenth Century. Contre-dances were most often performed by groups who participated in the figures composing a quadrille." [Louisiana Division Carnival Collection]

Traditionally the city that care forgot, New Orleans is, perhaps, best known for its liberal attitude toward human frailties, its 'Live and Let Live' policy. To the tourist the city is first of all a place in which to eat, drink, and be merry. Generations of gourmands and tipplers have waxed fat on gumbo and bouillabaisse and pompano, and gay on gin fizzes and absinthe drips and Sazerac cocktails; many of them, Thackeray and Mark Twain included, have communicated their appreciation of the 'American Paris' to the world. Generations of revelers have gone their joyous way through Carnival Season to Mardi Gras, that maddest of all mad days when every man may be a king, or, if he prefers, a tramp or a clown or an Indian chief, and dance in the streets. Generations of dandies and sports and adventurers have, with their 'ladies,' played fast and loose in the gambling-houses and 'sporting' houses of the 'American Marseilles.' Ever since the middle of the eighteenth century, when the Marquis de Vaudreuil attempted to set up in Nouvelle Orleans a miniature Versailles, a reputation for gaiety and abandon has persisted. These, then, the joys of the flesh, the traveler first remembers.
[New Orleans City Guide (1938), xviii]

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