Lent is a time for austerity and reserve.
But until then, all bets are off.
Our advice? Give it up for these four Mardi Gras parties, before you give something else up.
Because waiting until Tuesday to start partying feels like forever, get at it early on Saturday night, when T.T. hosts it's annual Mardi Gras fest with a loaded lineup of bands playing all night and culminating in Shaun Wolf Wortis & The Legendary Vudu Krewe.
Sat 9p. 10 Brookline St., Central Square (617-492-0082). $12.
Mardi Gras is a great excuse for a lot of things, not all of them printable here. Estelle's special menu, however, is very much so. The prix fixe meal includes Andouille sausage and smoked chicken gumbo with your choice of braised duck and sausage étouffée or creole seafood jambalaya, plus South End Hurricanes (peach mango and pineapple rum, Amaretto, hibiscus liqueur, and juices) to help get you in the spirit.
Tues 5p-1:30a. 782 Tremont St., South End (857-250-2999). Two-course prix fixe $30.95. Call for reservations.
Trade you some beads for a hot tip on a party? Deal — head to The Hawthorne on Fat Tuesday night, where Big Easy bites (think fried oyster Po'Boys), two cocktails (Sazerac, anyone?) and plenty of NOLA jazz from Micky Bones' appropriately fired-up Hot Tamale Brass Band are yours for just $75. That means keep your shirt on, for now at least.
Tues 8p-12:30a. 500A Commonwealth Ave., Kenmore Square (617-532-9150). $75 here.
Any Mardi Gras party is only as good as the big brass jazz band that plays it, meaning this one should be awesome. The BT New Orleans 2nd Line Brass Band provides the requisite joyful noise for you and a date to stomp to, once you've finished scraping your plate of Louisiana shrimp and grits.
Tues 5p-Midnight. 541 Tremont St., South End (617-423-0069). No cover.