image: longwy (ii)

We went to see the Longwy parade last Sunday. This was quite different to Esch–sur–Alzette, a fortnight ago. That was tractors and trailers, that was farmer fun, that I’ve seen in village England. The Esch parade was inspired by the Americans, those who liberated Luxembourg.

Longwy’s Carnaval Vénitien was French elegance and aristocracy. The participants were masked, faces anonymous and expressionless, neither plain nor responsive, yet beautiful.

This absence of presence let me concentrate on the clothing.

If I were a participant, I’d take advantage of those masks. You can nearly be whom you want to be. An older lady can be a young woman. The master of the house can be the Master of the House. A man can be a woman; a woman, a man. A scar is gone, a facial mar is gone; ugliness, real or imagined, is gone; false self–image is realised ideal. This is disguise, not change: the obese cannot be lithe, injury will not undo, a sponge does not spring. But the disguise is strong when the head and hair are hidden.

But one has to be careful. Mannerisms and gait, habits and behaviour, do not change, except by conscious effort. The young cannot use memory to inspire their disguise of age. But one can act, and many did.

One can act, and this is the source, I suspect, of many of these costumes. The theme may be French aristocracy, but this is theatre; gorgeous, brilliant, beautiful theatre, but still theatre. Don’t get me wrong, I know power and theatre are closely connected, that holding power needs theatre to illude belief, but this parade is theatre alone.

I did not take all the photos I’d have liked: unsurprisingly, many people were in Place Darche. The weather bought lots along: it was a brilliant, beautiful cold spring sunlight; light to shine the costumes’ beauty, too cool for sweat.

I thank all those involved, those who made the costumes, and those who wore them. I thank the organisers too, the stewards, the jesters and the DJs, and, of course, I thank the town.

I invite you to browse my parade photos. I’ve tried to catch the clothing, the costumes, the fabric. There’s a few pages there: I did go slightly mad.