Updated: Nov 5, 2022
I have recently had the privilege of moving to New Orleans. Prior to this, I had spent over a decade of my life living in a small town in central Louisiana that was 2 hours away. Because of this proximity, I was able to frequently visit the Big Easy and spent many incredible weekends in this vibrant city. I was lucky enough to often be accompanied by my future wife and other friends on these trips. Each trip wound up being unique in its own way, but I can honestly say I have never had a dull or forgetful night in New Orleans. The city is full of activity, life, music, and culture. I often describe feeling the energy of the city. Although cliché, there is something about this city that needs to be experienced to be understood. I would like to share one of these nights with my readers. It is the story of one of my early trips to New Orleans, spent in the city’s historic French Quarter on Halloween.
I was joined by my wife and several work colleagues for a day filled with theater, parades, dancing, and laughter. A normal night in the French Quarter. We began the day with lunch at the Pier-424 restaurant that is in the middle of Bourbon Street. New Orleans is known as one of the world’s premiere culinary cities and offers a unique collection of food to sample, a lot of which were offered at this restaurant. We began with a bowl of gumbo soup, a roux-based soup filled with assorted seafood such as crab, crawfish, and shrimp that is all served over rice. Along side the gumbo we enjoyed a dozen oysters on the half shell before moving on to the main course, a po-boy sandwich. For those unfamiliar, po-boys have many varieties ranging from roast beef to various types of seafood but are generally defined by a sandwich made up of a French bread loaf. On this visit, we enjoyed the fried crawfish po-boy before continuing with our day in the French Quarter.
I think it is important to note that Bourbon Street is not a location suited to everyone’s taste. Although this street is considered famous as a party destination, it can be argued that is equally infamous. The street is lined with restaurants, bars, tourist shops, and adult entertainment establishments. No part of this street is kept modest, the full scope of each establishment is advertised for all to see, and this can provide a cultural shock for those with more modest or conservative tastes. For those travelers who are seeking a wild night on the town where the music never stops, the dance floor is never empty, and the drinks don’t stop coming; then Bourbon Street is a location worth visiting. Just be aware of what to expect when you arrive here.
After enjoying a few drinks, we walked towards the day’s first highlight: the annual Crewe of Boo Halloween Parade. Parades are very common in New Orleans and those involved spare no expense to provide a unique and entertaining experience to spectators. This annual Halloween parade features a series of floats highlighting horror-based movies ranging from Gremlins to Freddy Kreuger. 20-foot tall Xenomorphs pass over head following by Jack Skeleton. Throughout it all Mardi gras beads and other assorted goodies are raining down onto the crowd from those riding on the floats. The colors are vibrant, the music is infectious, and the energy flows through you. After enjoying the show for a few hours and obtaining a nice collection of beads for each of us, it was time to move on to the next featured attraction of the day.
We were off towards the Saenger Theater, a historical playhouse right outside of the French Quarter located along Canal Street. A short ten-minute walk from Bourbon Street. First built in 1927, much of this playhouse has retained its historic and grand quality including elaborately painted high ceiling and rows of marble statues. This theater often features traveling Broadway shows and this night, we were fortunate enough to have secured tickets to the Book of Mormon, a comedy-based play from the creators of South Park. None of us could stop laughing during the entire show. This was the first play I had taken the initiative to go to on my own and I had such a positive experience, I would find myself at many more Broadway shows in this theater in the coming years.
By the time we exited the theater, it was already dark outside, but the night was still young and we were just beginning. We stopped by our hotel rooms for a quick change in attire. It was time to change out of the suites we wore to the theater and into something more inline with the Halloween spirit filling the air on Bourbon Street. My future wife and I donned our best matching pirate costumes, and it was time to commandeer the bars and search for our rum. Bourbon Street is filled with assorted clubs that each have their own flavor. Whether you enjoy rock, pop, rap, country, or zydeco; you can find a club on Bourbon that meets your taste. One of our favorite things to do on our visits is simply to listen to the music in the air and follow it once we hear something that fills us with energy. Whether it’s Journey or Bon Jovi; certain songs will have us immediately walking through any club we happen to be passing. Our first stop that night was at the Spirit Room on Bourbon. A laid-back bar several blocks into Bourbon Street that offers a relaxing vibe, live music, karaoke, and our favorite specialty drink: the Resurrection. This novelty drink is unique to this bar and is half drink, half show. It’s a blend of alcohol with a bright blue color served inside of a skull shaped glass filled with LED lights. I’ve lost count of how many of these cups we’ve wound up with over the years. After a few of the rounds of Resurrections and singing along to “This is Halloween” and the Ghostbusters theme, we were ready to continue along that night’s bar crawl.
Several clubs later, we found ourselves at our favorite club on this street: The Famous Door. This club typically features a live band that plays a wide variety of music but often features dance tunes and rock from the 80s and 90s. We spent the rest of the night dancing the night away and creating memories singing along to “Don’t Stop Believing”.
By 5am, the evening was beginning to slow, and it was time to call it a night. But first, it was time to get an end of night snack. Hours of dancing had developed a bit of an appetite and Bourbon Street was ready to meet our needs. No matter what time of the night it is, there are places to find food in the French Quarter and many of them offer an incredible meal. Our favorite restaurant for a late-night meal on Bourbon Street is Mambo’s, a local Cajun and creole-based restaurant that offers an incredible selection of seafood and steaks. Oysters have become one of our favorite late snacks in New Orleans and Oyster’s Rockefeller is one of our favorite ways to enjoy them. A creamy cheese and spinach blend served on top of oysters. A great way to cap off the night.
Nights like these are frequent on Bourbon Street. There is always something occurring and there is always music and energy in the air. We would go on to have many more nights in this amazing location, but those are stories for another time…
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