[Provided by the Sirens of New Orleans]

An Exclusive Look at Mardi Gras’ Dancing Mermaids

07:00 February 08, 2024
By: Kevin Credo

The Sirens

In Greek mythology, the sirens were a mysterious, deadly group of female creatures capable of seducing sailors throughout the Mediterranean Sea. While the earliest archaeological records most commonly give the amorphous sirens more bird-like forms, more recent eras have immortalized their true nature as nautical fish-tailed mermaids. In the Big Easy this time of year, you can find these mermaids dancing outside Superior Seafood on St. Charles Avenue.

[Photo by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee, Provided by the Sirens of New Orleans]

Founded in 2010 and making their parade debut in 2011, The Sirens of New Orleans have quickly come to establish themselves as one of Mardi Gras' preeminent dance troupes. With a busy Mardi Gras schedule that includes both the Cleopatra super-krewe and the Krewe of Morpheus, the Sirens' dances are no walk in the park—even if they may or may not pass by Lafayette Square.

Dance rehearsals for the Sirens begin on Labor Day, occurring several times a week all the way into the Carnival season, including 12 original choreographed song routines per year and an intricate set of connective numbers to string them along swimmingly. While nautical motifs are a staple among both Carnival krewe names, as well as individual parade year themes, the mermaid dancers of the Sirens bring that aesthetic to the forefront like a tidal wave, in everything from their own dance routine to their "Sailor" and pirate assistants, as well as their unique message-in-a-bottle throws.

[Photo by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee, Provided by the Sirens of New Orleans]

If just swimming across the parade routes isn't enough, the Sirens also take their own twists for both the traditions of year-round events and exclusive throws. A tradition first added to their parading in 2011, the Sirens' "Message in a Bottle" throws consist of hand-painted and decorated glass bottles, usually containing different messages, puns, or other nautical ephemera. With Jennifer Lee, secretary and founding member of the Sirens, estimating that only a few hundred handmade items are made and distributed over the two parades, the Sirens' bottles count as some of Mardi Gras' most exclusive throws (or, if not "throws," more fragile glass handed out by Sailors).

[Photo by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee, Provided by the Sirens of New Orleans]

Whereas many Mardi Gras groups can be found hosting elaborate Carnival balls this time of year, the Sirens decided to go for the other end of the calendar, hosting a Halloween Party fundraiser, "Mermaids and Mayhem," every October and benefitting local and water-minded charities such as the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.

The Sirens can be seen again this weekend, marching in the Krewe of Morpheus on Friday, February 9 as the final Mardi Gras parade of the busy Vendredi Gras—the final Friday night of the Carnival season. The Krewe of Morpheus begins parading at 7 p.m. at the intersection of Jefferson and Magazine Streets in Uptown, with a route that takes Magazine and Napoleon to St. Charles, headed downtown and ending at the intersection of Tchoupitoulas and Poydras Streets. For more information on the Sirens, as well as info on becoming a Siren or Sailor, visit The Sirens' website.

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