International House Hotel's Whimsical 'Dumb Society' Tea

Carnival season in New Orleans is often times misunderstood. It includes much more than Bourbon Stree and stale beer. Underneath the purple, green and gold mylar, Carnival is rooted in deep tradition, great richness, and memorable tales and stories. Every year, the International House Hotel in collaboration with Henri Schindler, the internationally recognized cultural authority on Carnival, transforms its lobby and brings to life one of the wittiest, most whimsical Mardi Gras tales.

The International House Hotel is Transformed into a Witty, Whimsical Wonderland

From February 15th to February 27th, the boutique hotel, a Beaux-Arts building in the Central Business District, is transformed to celebrate the creations of Carlotta Bonnecaze, the first woman and the first Creole, to design floats and costumes for Mardi Gras in the late 1800’s. Showcased in the hotel are Bonnecaze's 21 watercolor paintings that show the half-human, half-animal creations that were created for the Krewe of Proteus in 1896. The organization's theme that year was "Dumb Society." 

Guests are greeted by an illustrative peacock at the front of the lobby.  Above the front desk, two mice and a rat in prison clothes holding a crow bar dance above a group of eclectic felines.  The juxtaposition cleverly plays on the irony of Bonnecaze’s float titled “Watchful Guardians,” where 18-foot cats held a steady gaze over the folly of the mice below.

Above the entrance of the bar Loa, characters from her watercolor scene “Five O’Clock Tea” are displayed. With a storybook element of Alice in Wonderland, the Jackass serves tea from a bronze kettle to his array of guests: Monkey, Pig, and Sheep, all of whom are dressed in petticoats and Victorian tea party attire. Various spaces are dressed with characters from “In Court,” a dramatic scene, originally set to a swamp-like courtroom.  Nearby, a Rat dances aside two Roosters from “The Glee Club.”  Other corners are adorned by Frogs and Dragonflies.

Theatrical Afternoon Tea

To go along with it, a theatrical afternoon tea is served from 5-6 PM daily complete with masks and complimentary cocktail infused tea composed of local Meyer lemon, Satsuma Cello, lemongrass vodka, caramelized pandon leaf syrup, fruit liqueurs and fresh herbs served by a Victorian donkey.

This is one of the most unique carnival events in the city and the hotel beautifully showcases and tells the story of Bonnecaze's Dumb Society. Stop by, put on the provided masks, and enjoy a history filled tea! Teas are held daily from 5-6 pm.

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