In New Orleans, the only abnormality is the inability to party. No matter what cultural background you’re from, or how much you have or have not, in the city of the braless, the costumed, the artists, and the musicians, all are united under one cause, and that is to party relentlessly. New Orleans has partied through hate wars, environmental devastation, and presidents good and bad. Perhaps New Orleans knows something the rest of us don’t. If you’re looking for nightlife in New Orleans, you’ll have no trouble finding it, but you may need to be pointed in the right direction. Here are some of the things you might want to look out for in the city of the endless festival.
1. Cajun Dancing
If Cajun dancing is anywhere near as hot as cooking, get out on the floor and burn it up. If you thought you would have to leave the US to find some authentic Fais do-do (Cajun dance party), you’d be mistaken. New Orleans is chock full of down and dirty rug cutters who were taught how to dance by their equally down and dirty grandparents, and they’re more than willing to share their secrets with anyone who wants to know how Cajun style dancing is done. If you’re looking to get down with your Cajun wild self, you can find Cajun dancing at the Mid-City Lanes Rock’n Bowl, and knock down a few pins on the dance floor.
2. Bourbon Street
Although it’s tempting to think that one of the most famous party streets in the world was named for the amber colored alcohol, it is actually the Bourbon royal family to which Bourbon Street owes its name. A place of flowing libations, live music, neon lights and constant celebration, Bourbon St, is known for its array of week-long festivities and parties, Mardis Gras being the most renowned. However, any time of the year is a good time to party on Bourbon St., with plenty of opportunities to ride the mechanical bull, sing karaoke, or simply have a drink on the world famous balcony and make the scene to be seen in.
3. Jazz Clubs
Jazz may not have been born in New Orleans, but it was certainly raised there. New Orleans is an ideal place for any type of music, but if it had a soundtrack it would be jazz. Like New Orleans, jazz is ever-changing, unpredictable, and shifting into the unexpected. New Orleans is alive with jazz, and jazz comes alive in New Orleans. If you’re looking to feel the beat, some of the best venues for live jazz in New Orleans include the Palm Court Jazz Cafe Inc, the Swizzle Stick Bar, and the Dos Jefes Uptown Cigar Bar.
4. Burlesque and Cabaret
If New Orleans was a woman, she would most likely be a cabaret dancer. Campy, sleazy, and sexy, burlesque runs rampant in New Orleans, with opportunities to kick up a heel during lunchtime, in hotel lounges, and at all-out late night extravaganzas. If you’re looking for a place to hang your boa, there’s always a place at the Howlin’ Wolf Bar, where the jazz is hot and the cabaret sizzles.
5. Music Clubs
New Orleans has been a muse for many artists with a love of beauty and a streak of self-destruction, and the musician fits that description to a tee. Jazz, rock, or other, there is always creative inspiration to be found in New Orleans, and places to give vent to it. With a history of music dating back to the turn of the century, New Orleans has such a vast array of music clubs, you could put in three months of nightclubbing without hitting the same bar twice. Although you can’t go wrong at any New Orleans venue, you might want to start with the Carousel Bar on Royal St. Visit the carousel themed bar, order some craft cocktails, and intoxicate yourself with music.
6. Late Night Eats: The Seaworthy
When a city caters to the sensual desires, you can bet that includes the food. If you find you’ve burnt off a few too many calories in your late night revelry, you can count on the Seaworthy at the Ace Hotel to offer some great post-last-call seafood whenever you stagger in there. If you’re feeling a bit daring, the Crew Mess comes highly recommended. Derived from the Old Time French word ‘mes,’ meaning a portion of food on the table, the Crew Mes is a feast for the eyes of the hungry straggler. Plus, with enough cocktails and craft beer to satisfy the thirst of all of New Orleans, you’re likely to want to rent a room at the Ace, so the raw bar is never beyond an elevator ride.
7. Frenchmen Street
There are few cities that rival Frenchman Street when it comes to street music. If it’s around midnight in New Orleans, you can be sure the trombones are sliding and the streets are crowded in Marigny. One trip around the clubs on Frenchman street and your likely to hear more music than you have in your lifetime, and with clubs like Snug Harbor, and the Spotted Cat, you’re likely to hear some of the best as well. Of course, it wouldn’t be a party without food and drink. You’ll find a number of casual and elegant dining options along the street and in the adjacent Faubourg Marigny area, and bars where the libations flow all night.
8. Gay Bars
If you’re looking for the line between gay and straight, it is most likely lavender. The “Lavender Line” on the French Quarter is home to some of the most iconic gay and gay-friendly bars in the city. Cafe Lafitte in Exile is the oldest continuously operating bar in the country if you want to see where Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams went to dish the dirt. It’s also got the largest picture screen in the Quarter, and size does matter.
Updated: April 8, 2018