Let the good times roll wave: Marching Band hits the parade route

Bella Baff, Associate Sports Editor

Courtesy of Bruce France

For most Tulane students, Mardi Gras is the ultimate break. This respite allows most students to spend days watching parades and catching beads, create lasting memories friends and de-stress after completing midterm exams. For those in the Tulane University Marching Band, however, Mardi Gras is quite a workout.

The band, led by the Shockwave dance team, marches in four to five parades every year, each of which rolls for several hours and miles. Students play and dance along St. Charles Avenue Uptown to Canal Street in the French Quarter, only stopping when a float breaks down.

Michael Seuylemezian, a senior drum major, explains how it is not just the distance that poses a challenge, but also the heavy equipment, intense dancing and full uniforms that leave very little room to breathe.

“Marching in Mardi Gras parades is without a doubt the most physically demanding activity I have ever participated in,” Seuylemezian said. “When we aren’t playing, we are dancing. When we aren’t dancing, we’re playing.”

Sarah Nwia, another a senior drum major, agrees that marching can be exhausting.

During the parade, it’s a lot of fun and you don’t realize how tired you are,” Nwia said. “But afterwards, all you want to do is eat and lay down.”

In the spring, the band typically rehearses for about four hours a week. A fair amount of that time is spent walking in circles around a parking lot, building endurance and reproducing the rigorous conditions of marching in the parades.

When it comes to music, a few songs stay the same from year to year, including the “Tulane Fight Song” and “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Despite keeping with these traditions, many new songs are added each season as well. This year, parade-goers can expect to hear Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” and a mashup of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” and Cardi B’s “I Like It Like That.”

The band usually marches every other day of the Mardi Gras season starting the Friday before Fat Tuesday. Though he admits that marching in the parades is tiring, Seuylemezian does not feel like he is missing out on any of the Mardi Gras festivities.

“It’s nice to get to do both,” Seuylemezian said. “Getting a nice break from marching while also getting a break from watching parades, it’s the perfect balance.”

According to Nwia and Seuylemezian, the best part of marching in the parades is the sense of community and belonging it creates with the city of New Orleans. The group loves getting to interact with the audience and hearing the support when they bust a move.

“As a Tulane student, it very often feels like we are separated from the rest of New Orleans in a way,” Seuylemezian said. “A lot of people that see us march are really happy to see Tulane represented in the parades, and I love getting to be a part of that.”

So the next time you complain about the walk from Gibson to the tents on Louisiana Avenue, keep in mind what performers go through to be in these parades.

“All the marching bands in the parades are working super hard,” Seuylemezian said.Make sure to give them some encouraging cheers when they pass!”

This year, the band will be marching in the Krewe d’Etat on Friday night, Krewe of Thoth on Sunday afternoon and Krewe of Rex on Tuesday morning.

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