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Illustration by Karl Daum

If the Columbia community learned anything this week, it's that it's just not OK to appropriate the traditional garb of another culture so that everyone knows how “down to fiesta” you are. Unless you are a member of an established club representing said appropriated culture on campus, in which case it's probably fine, as long as you do so with the right level of sensitivity and an op-ed to back you up. But even then you might get labeled a hypocrite in the comments section. All said, it might be best to leave the fake mustaches and sombreros at home this weekend and embrace the festivities of Mardi Gras instead. Because nobody's going to claim that you're disenfranchising the Catholic hegemony.         

Two Boots Mardi Gras Ball
The fifth annual Two Boots Mardi Gras Benefit Ball on March 4 gives you the chance to get down for a good cause—all proceeds go to the Lower East Side Girls Club. Le Poisson Rouge will play host to an unmistakably New Orleans part-ay, with music from The Lost Bayou Ramblers, MC Reverend Billy, and Mamarazzi, among others. No, I haven't heard of them either, but it seems clear just from their names that it's going to be a stomper of a night. General admission is $35, but if you want to rub elbows with the stars (and get you access to the open bar), a VIP ticket will set you back $125. Who knows, if you get really lucky, you might even get to go home on the MC Reverend's arm. 

Cowgirl Sea-Horse
“CELEBRATE... Crawfish! Beads! Hurricanes!” reads the enthusiastic advertisement for Southern-themed restaurant and bar Cowgirl Sea-Horse's Mardi Gras celebrations. I'm a fan of all of the things in that list, so I'll be heading down there next Tuesday—and complimentary party favors and drink specials don't hurt. The restaurant's slogan is “Eat Like a Horse, Drink Like a Fish,” so it seems apt to spend Fat Tuesday there, and extend your festivities to a fat and hungover Wednesday, and possibly Thursday, too.

Bourbon Street Bar and Grille
This classy, if clichéd, New Orleans-themed establishment in the Theater District prides itself on bringing the spirit of Louisiana right into the center of Manhattan. It may be a tourist hangout, but it throws a Mardi Gras like nowhere else in the city. Embrace your inner carnival-esque character at Saturday's masquerade ball, or dance the night away with the DJ on Tuesday. It's down-South downtown.

Loreley Karneval
You're that Herschel-backpack toting hipster who sits next to me in German class, and no run-of-the-mill New Orleans Mardi Gras is going to get you enough likes on your Instagram feed. Never fear—Loreley Restaurant and Biergarten at 7 Rivington St. has you covered, with its German-style Karneval taking place this Saturday. DJ Foosh is on the decks, so get there early—it's free and they close the doors at capacity. If you're not one of the chosen few to get locked into Loreley until the wee hours of Sunday morning with the German techno grinding, you can always come back on Monday for the more sedate but equally satisfying experience of watching the taped broadcast of the Cologne Karneval parade. | @KatieRMcMahon

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