by Morgan Dowdy
NOLA Zombi, a local group dedicated to “all things zombie,” is inviting you to their joyful human outburst this Saturday, 20 April, with its first annual Spring Zombie Walk and Pub Crawl.
What exactly is a zombie walk? The latest flavor of mass performance art? Some enigmatic form of symbolic political protest? The spontaneous manifestation of an obscure nerd subculture? Or an irreverent grotesquery of the aforementioned?
Here we’ll reference the excellent 1977 LP Zombie by Nigerian Afro-beat musician Fela Kuti and his band Afrika 70. A derisive and infectious indictment of the Nigerian military employing from the zombie metaphor, the album was embraced with wild enthusiasm by the oppressed and downtrodden people of the country, who would taunt soldiers in the streets with blank stares, stilted limbs, and cries of “zombie! zombie!”
Zombie! The irrational and joyful human outburst in the face of rationalized oppression, suffering, and misery on any scale, from brutal state violence to the inhumane treatment of animals.
Certainly the organizers of the Zombie walk promise a self-justified night of play and revelry: “You and hundreds of your closest undead friends will amble, stagger, and shuffle from bar to bar, drinking well, having fun, and raising the dead along Magazine Street.” But a sobering mission underpins the event, which will benefit the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in both Orleans and Jefferson Parishes.
These nonprofit organizations are dedicated to advancing the welfare of animals through adoption programs, spaying and neutering, and humane education, among other essential services. Notably, the Louisiana SPCA acted swiftly in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to save the lives of thousands of abandoned and stray animals, despite losing their longtime shelter on Japonica Street to floodwaters. The organization successfully lobbied the state legislature for a “pet evacuation bill” in 2006, and opened a new shelter on Mardi Gras Boulevard in 2007.
The first zombie walk took place at the gaming convention Gen Con in 2000. Since then, zombie-themed walks, pub crawls, and groups have popped up all over the world in a variety of functions, such as hunger marches, performance art, flash mobs, and straightforward gatherings of horror movie fans. Walks often take on an overtly political role, such as those that occurred nationwide in conjunction with the Occupy Wall Street park occupations of 2011.
In a New Orleans context, the emergent international interest in all things zombie carries particular historical resonance. The idea of the zombie as a resurrected, animated corpse originates from West African Vodou tradition, which was transplanted to New Orleans during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Legendary New Orleans voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau kept a pet snake named Li Grande Zombi in honor of an African snake deity, from which NOLA Zombi derives its unusual spelling.
The Spring Zombie Walk and Pub Crawl, organized by NOLA Zombi in benefit of the SPCA, kicks off at Balcony Bar, located at 1104 Harmony Street, where would-be zombies can register between 4:00 PM and 5:30 PM to receive wristbands for drink specials at each bar on the route, including Rendezvous Tavern, Parasol’s Bar & Grill, Tracey’s Pub, and the Half Moon Bar & Restaurant, which will host the Apocalypse After Party at 8:00 PM. Participants who make it to the after party will have the chance to compete for prizes in a costume contest and peruse the SPCA information table, while getting to know their fellow undead denizens over discounted drinks.
Via Nola Defender