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The House of Dance and Feathers

Ninth Ward
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Address: 1317 Tupelo St, New Orleans, LA 70117-2036
Phone Number:
+1 504-957-2678

House of Dance & Feathers is a cultural museum based on Ronald Lewis'...

House of Dance & Feathers is a cultural museum based on Ronald Lewis' participation in the culture of Mardi Gras Indians, Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs & Skull and Bone Gangs. Opening hours are informal, so please telephone ahead to make an appointment.Ronald: I was working on my Mardi Gras Indian costumes for the Choctaw Hunters, a Mardi Gras Indian tribe I helped start in the Lower 9th Ward. While I was working on the suits, I had feathers and memorabilia all over the house. I came home one day & everything was in my backyard. My loving wife (who we call Minnie) said "I can't take this no more. You've got to find something to do with this." I moved the artwork into the shed and started putting up my various artifacts. The children in the community started calling it a museum and I gave it a name, "The House of Dance & Feathers", which means second lining and Mardi Gras Indians. I was at the point in my life where, "Okay, I can make a Mardi Gras Indian costume, but I want to educate the world about our great culture, how we do this, and why we are so successful at it even though the economics say we ain't supposed to be." Ronald created the museum in 2003, and then once again rebuilt in the wake of Katrina in 2005. Based at Ronalds house on Tupelo Street in the Lower 9th Ward, The House of Dance & Feathers is a unique experience as Ronald Lewis weaves his personal stories into each artifact in the museum and encourages a dialogue with his guests, so no two visits are ever the same. Although you'll arrive a stranger, you'll almost certainly leave as a friend.As well as being the museum's director and curator, Ronald W. Lewis, is the president of the Big Nine Social Aid & Pleasure Club, former Council Chief of the Choctaw Hunters, Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame inductee, 2008 King of Krewe de Vieux and a central character in Dan Baums best seller, Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Death and Life in New Orleans.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

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Cultural visit in the 9th Ward

Your host, Mr.Lewis, is a lifetime resident of the 9th Ward. He has been an active leader in civic life. A visit to the museum in his back yard will enrich your cultural... read more

Reviewed 14 April 2017
Janis A
Seattle, Washington
via mobile
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33 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 32: English reviews
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
13 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 14 April 2017 via mobile

Your host, Mr.Lewis, is a lifetime resident of the 9th Ward. He has been an active leader in civic life. A visit to the museum in his back yard will enrich your cultural understanding of New Orleans African American culture, grown in the face of continual segregation and discrimination. Take the risk of leaving the typical tourist visit and see... More 

Thank Janis A
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 1 March 2017

Go here if you want see a different cultural side of New Orleans. Mr. Lewis has gathered a nice collection of parts of suits and accessories of the different kinds of tribes and other street cultures in New Orleans. It is small but very authentic and the fact that Ronald Lewis is an insider who can tell you about everything... More 

1 Thank Daan B
Old Mystic, CT
Level Contributor
17 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 February 2017

This small home-based museum in the 9th Ward is chock-a-block with fascinating objects tracing the history of the Mardi Gras Indians, but the most fascinating aspect of all is the museum's wise and gracious creator/curator, Ronald Lewis. To speak with him is a privilege. Call ahead to visit, and listen carefully when you go. You will be richly rewarded.

Thank Bethe D
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Level Contributor
457 reviews
186 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 362 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 December 2016

Mr. Lewis has assembled a collection of the history of dance and costume for Mardi Gras. He has the knowledge and experience of this celebration and the customs associated with it within the African-American community of New Orleans. It is well worth the time to visit his backyard museum to see the wonders of his collection and ask questions about... More 

Thank DB-Raw
Level Contributor
16 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 August 2016 via mobile

I can't say enough this tour! Go go go! You will not be disappointed. This is a rare living legend - his knowledge and passions for New Orleans is evident.

1 Thank Covington K
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 July 2016 via mobile

Just that. Get off Bourbon Street and visit this fascinating history of the New Orleans Indians and Mardi Gras neighborhood parades.

Thank Laura Leigh R
Reading, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
100 reviews
54 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 March 2016 via mobile

Hubby, my 2 teen daughters and I made an appt with Mr. Lewis to come out and see his museum. We were running late and called him to tell him so and he was so kind to accommodate our time. When we finally arrived at were the only ones there. He gave us a talk on how the museum came... More 

2 Thank cephuslilnation
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
115 reviews
51 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 March 2016

Get in your car, go over the canal and into the Lower Ninth Ward. The effects of Katrina still pock the landscape, and there a few blocks in is the House of Dance & Feathers. Ronald Lewis should be cloned and the world would be a better place - much better. His collection of Mardi Gras "stuff' is amazing, but... More 

4 Thank bretjina
New york city
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 March 2016 via mobile

Meeting and speaking with Ronald Lewis was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. He is so open to teaching you about his city, his community and his life, and its a story that everyone needs to hear. Make sure to bring cash to donate to the museum.

2 Thank Leyabeya
Indianapolis, Indiana
Level Contributor
220 reviews
93 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 151 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 February 2016

So glad we visited this " museam" which we would never have known to do if not for the Ninth Ward bike tour we took. ( Look also for my review of it) At first glance, the space ooks like a cluttered mess until you listen and ask questions of the founder . His story of surviving Katrina may have... More 

1 Thank 2011lovinitsteph

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Staying in Ninth Ward

Neighbourhood Profile
Ninth Ward
People focus too much on the hardships so closely associated with this well known working class neighborhood when what’s really most remarkable about the tightknit community is its indefatigable spirit of rebirth and ability to stay true to its roots. Perhaps not an ideal destination for those visitors who tend to keep well within their comfort zones when traveling or those with bucket lists filled to the brim with top tourist attractions, the Ninth Ward is nonetheless there for those who are most keen to discover the places they encounter. But it’s not all about learning lessons when going to the Ninth Ward. With its “Living Museum” and “steamboat houses” and a long enduring dedication to preserving local culture, there’s more than enough to see and do during a daytime tour of the area.
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