Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bourbon Street and New Orleans Nightlife

With Danny in town and Tom in the mood to party and with many of the best restaurants in town located in the French Quarter, we descended on New Orleans street to be seen. Welcome to Bourbon Street in the famous French Quarter, where the party literally never stops. There is much to do in the way of entertainment regardless of your taste in music, clubs, food, or my favorite, people watching that this place will keep you entertained for quite a few hours. When the French engineer Adrien de Pauger laid out the streets of New Orleans in 1721, he chose one to carry the name of the French Royal Family ruling at the time - Rue Bourbon. Since then, Bourbon Street has become one of the most recognizable party destinations in the world. Though largely quiet during the day, the Street comes alive at night. Local open container laws in the French Quarter allow the drinking of alcoholic beverages in the street and the tourists take full advantage of it. Popular drinks include the hurricane and resurrection cocktails and of course beer in large plastic cups, all marketed to tourists at a low price. History tells us that over the years Bourbon Street has been home to vaudeville, burlesque, jazz joints and gentlemen's clubs - serving as inspiration for the bawdy, party atmosphere the street is known for today. In addition to venues featuring bands covering all types of other music genre, the street is also home to traditional jazz clubs, upscale lounges, historic restaurants and exotic striptease clubs - it all depends on what you're looking for. But the attraction that ties it all together is the street itself - a carnival of sights and sounds where people from all walks of life come to let their hair down. City officials actually turn Bourbon Street into a pedestrian mall each evening so the street is shut down to vehicular traffic leaving plenty of room for visitors to walk the strip. The party starts at the intersection of Canal Street and Bourbon, where brass bands gather almost every night, filling the street with musicians and dancers. Down Bourbon's thirteen blocks to Esplanade Avenue, the revelry continues beneath beautiful cast-iron balconies, with a seemingly endless row of bars, music clubs and restaurants. The architecture of the old converted mansions is gorgeous although at night it is difficult to see because of all the neon lights. Tom and Danny loved the whole scene, while I found it to be a little seedy. But I did love the old hotels, restaurants and the general bon vive that everyone exhibited. We went to a superb jazz lounge in the fabulously elegant Rita Carlton. The quartet was amazing and it gave us a welcome break from the throngs of people crowding the street. Tom and I even took a turn on the dance floor and did not embarrass ourselves. In fact we enjoyed the music so much we stayed longer than we intended, plus the room and atmosphere was fantastic. On the flip side we also went to the Urban Cowboy complete with sawdust and a mechanical bull. No, I did not try it and neither did Tom nor Danny, thank goodness. From champagne to beer, in the blink of an eye. It's clear why Bourbon Street has become so famous- its laizze faire attitude and lively atmosphere and the people who take part in its traditions are sure to give you something to write home about. Move over Las Vegas, New Orleans is the place for nightlife.

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