Sociologists note that festivals, including events like parades, involve the temporary suspension of societal norms. In these liminal settings, the individual is permitted to conduct themselves outside the conventions of acceptable behavior. This includes being loud, overeating, becoming drunk, or dancing — or some wicked hedonistic combination of all the aforementioned. The activities associated with Mardi Gras exemplify festival centered norm suspension, even Mardi Gras as it occurs in PG rated format on the main drag of a charming little town in Pinellas County with a high concentration of Scottish residents.
Last night, myself and roughly 30,000 other people descended into downtown Dunedin, some trampling flower beds and littering profusely. As an avid fan of outdoor drinking events, people watching opportunities, and yummy things like kettle corn and funnel cakes, I usually have a riotously enjoyable time at Dunedin Mardi Gras. The plan is always something like grab a few brews from the Dunedin tent and wander the crowded streets looking at this strange swarm of people, making sure to peer into the window of the pet grooming shop to say hi to the kitties that live there.
This was the tentative agenda for last night. Little did I know, I was about to face epic disappointment.