I am back in New Orleans! In my mind at least… there is still much to tell and recommendations to add to the internet so here we go…
Thursday night I just winged it, hoping I could at least find my way back to the hotel. Friday night I knew I had to try a little harder. My first impression of Bourbon Street was that it was pretty sleazy and full of drunk college students. I think both statements hold but I wanted to see if there was more to it.
So I decided it was time to pull out the guidebook and see if having a plan might yield a better result.
My first stop was Jean Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House. It’s in a building from the early 1800s with an antique interior my mother would love. Since I was in the house of Absinthe, I figured an Absinthe House Frappe was the thing to have. As the bartender promised, it tasted like black licorice. Worth a try but I decided to stick to bourbon…
and to move on to my next destination. I had decided the next thing to tick off the list was to stand on a balcony so I could watch the cacophony playing out on Bourbon Street on a Friday night. My guidebook had recommended a place called Krazy Corner so that was my next stop.
It’s definitely worth getting onto a balcony on Bourbon Street while you are in New Orleans for a unique perspective on the world but it’s a lot more interesting to check out the music so I headed downstairs to where the band was playing.
I don’t think I had even listened to an entire song before a gentleman who sounded like a local asked me to dance. I’m not sure I will ever get to be a good dancer but I seem to manage to get pulled onto the dance floor in foreign cities as part of the free entertainment.
No one else was dancing – but Chris was a local and he was an awesome dancer so I just tried not to step on his feet or fall on the floor when he twirled me. It was my “Big Easy” moment when Dennis Quaid makes Ellen Barkin dance 😉
And the band was wonderful. That would be my discovery that night. Bourbon Street is full of excellent cover bands. If you love “Living on a Prayer”, this is your place 🙂 I think I heard it three times!
At that point, though, I was still on my mission to discover Bourbon Street based on my guidebook’s recommendations so, after five dances, I told Chris I was going to listen to some jazz across the street (the Maison Bourbon I have already written about).
I didn’t realize he was coming with me 😉 It changed my whole night. That was the end of the guidebook. I now had a local guide – with a delicious Louisiana accent 😉 One of the best life skills I ever developed was an ability to talk to strangers. It’s more art than science but I always try my best to connect with locals when I travel so that I get a traveller experience rather than a tourist one.
As Chris confirmed, finding a local on Bourbon Street on Friday night is not an easy task. But his friend had not shown and he loved to dance so there he was, looking for a dance partner.
He was more interested in cover tunes than jazz so I just went with the flow. I knew I had two more nights to find some jazz and it would be more fun to just follow his lead.
So I heard a lot of Bon Jovi 🙂 And Aerosmith. Some Def Leppard. Chris knew all the tunes and would sing along. He couldn’t believe I didn’t know this music. But, when they played “4 Non Blondes”, I was the one who could identify the band!
An indie rock chick dancing to “Living on a Prayer” as interpreted by a Bourbon Street cover band is not a normal sight. But I have always been very democratic about my musical experiences. At heart I am a music snob – but opening yourself to new experiences and new people enriches your life.
You end up dancing until 4am. You get to walk down Bourbon Street with a “to go cup” – and have some drunken kid bang into you with nary an apology so that you end up with a beer facial. But your gallant local guide offers his sleeve to wipe your dripping face. You learn some new tunes. You get walked back to your hotel in the middle of the night. You get some insight into the city you are visiting from a local.
And – most importantly – you create a unique memory that will last long after the trip is over…