SixTwelve celebrates birthday, Cajun culture with Mardi Gras Ball 

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“If there was no New Orleans, America would just be a bunch of free people dying of boredom.” – Judy Deck, email sent to Chris Rose, 2005

It’s tough to say anything new about New Orleans.

The beautifully dirty, sacredly profane city has inspired more good novels and bad pop songs than maybe any other city in America. Its gumbo blends mystery, detritus, high society, voodoo, jazz and revelry to give it a flavor uncommon anywhere else in the world, and other cities, ours included, can sometimes look a little stodgy in comparison.

But Oklahoma City can expect a shot of Big Easy panache this weekend as Paseo Art District’s SixTwelve nonprofit community learning center celebrates its second anniversary with Mardi Gras Ball 8-11 p.m. Saturday at 612 NW 29th St. The party also celebrates the Crescent City’s swankier side: White-tie attire is optional but encouraged, as are beads and masks.

When asked why she chose that theme, SixTwelve cofounder Amy Young had a ready answer.

“Community,” she said. “Mardi Gras and so many New Orleans traditions are focused on community and people coming together to celebrate. I wanted to do something like that here. We didn’t have a Mardi Gras ball anywhere else in OKC, and I wanted to provide something different. And I love zydeco music.”

The event features catering from Picasso Cafe and Norman restaurant Scratch Kitchen + Cocktails and authentic ambiance from Louisiana-based zydeco band Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas.

The event is about more than raising money to keep SixTwelve going, Young said. It’s also about bringing people into the community that SixTwelve has been such a vibrant part of over the past two years.

Young said ticket sale proceeds will help purchase new kitchen equipment so the organization can begin holding youth cooking classes.

“So far, we feel really welcome by the community, and we’ve loved being here,” Young said of the school and Paseo event hub she helped launch. “We’ve been able to do so much: the pre-K, the OKC Girls Art School, community gardening projects, yoga classes, residencies for artists, neighborhood events. It’s been amazing.”

She said big plans — including a spring break urban farming camp and several summer programs to help youth stave off doldrums — are on the docket for 2016.

As for those who might not favor the top hats and tails of a white-tie affair, Young, in true New Orleans fashion, said not to sweat it.

“White tie is optional, but anybody’s welcome in anything they want to wear,” she said. “We just want people to come celebrate with us.”

Print Headline: Dixie delight, SixTwelve celebrates its birthday and Cajun culture at its second Mardi Gras Ball.

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