A Very New Orleanian Weekend

With apologies, I bring you my weekend post on Wednesday.

Laundromat+ Bar
My boyfriend and I haven’t yet bought a washer/dryer for our new place and sought to make a tedious task more entertaining by doing our laundry at  Buddha Belly Burger Bar, a bar/music venue/pool hall with an outdoor deck … and laundry machines.

While I won’t designate Buddha Belly the cleanest place I’ve ever done laundry (some smokers ignored the signs to limit their smoking to the patio space), the time passed quickly as we enjoyed our beers.

Combining a laundromat with another service seems very New Orleanian to me. When I lived here before I did my laundry at Babylon Cafe, a laundromat/Mediterranean restaurant. There is also Schiro’s Cafe in the Marigny: a bar, cafe, grocery store and laundromat.

Satchmo Fest
Both days of the weekend I attended Satchmo Fest, an annual French Quarter festival that celebrates Louis Armstrong’s legacy.  Even with oppressive heat, people still turned out. New Orleanians just find a way to cope by bringing paper fans, decorated umbrellas… and drinking. I wonder if an August festival in another city would attract such large crowds.

On Sunday, we walked* with the Satchmo Second Line. Something about the event felt commercialized–or, rather, touristy (which is the New Orleans version of commercialized.) It was very different from the second line I attended earlier in the summer.  The majority of the second liners were white and many seemed just as concerned with taking pictures as dancing. Plus, the event was well organized (not very New Orleanian). However, it was impossible not to be impressed by the talent, which included the Baby Boyz and the Treme Brass Band, and delight with the dancing. The Gambit has some great videos here.

*Question: What is the verb for describing that you “attend” a Second Line, but don’t perform in it?

As the second line came to an end, festival organizers herded the performers into the Old US Mint. Very organized.

Figuring out how to lead the bands into the Mint.

White Linen Night
Saturday a group of us went to White Linen Night, an evening in which the galleries on Julia Street stay open late and attendees wear white as they meander in the streets. When I attended in 2004, I couldn’t find an all-white outfit and wore a black shirt and khaki skirt. I stood out. As I keep learning, New Orleanians dress up for events.

Afterwards our group ended up at Finn McCools where someone made a disparaging comment about our white outfits. I didn’t understand it at the time, but a verified New Orleanian friend said that White Linen night is considered a little uppity, so perhaps I was being judged in working-class Mid City?

610 Stompers Try Outs
I stopped by the 610 Stompers auditions and saw about 50 people practicing. Since were were only there for a few minutes I’d have to assume hundreds of people tried out! Good for them!


I was Unprepared for This: The 610 Stompers

New Orleans, I’ve forgotten you. I’ve forgotten that any time there is outdoor drinking, one must bring a beer koozie. I’ve also forgotten that if an adult gathering calls for its participants to dress up, you’re a fool if you arrive in everyday wear. Most of all I have forgotten how crazy and creative your citizens are, forming clubs and krewes such as the 610 Stompers.

The two on the right are actual “610 Stompers.”

This Saturday I went on the 610 Stompers Midcity Bar Crawl. The Stompers were started by a group of men who sit in the 610 section of the Superdome for Saints games. They wanted to participate in Muses, which is the only all-female Mardi Gras parade. The men formed a dance troop themed around 80s and 90s music and mustaches, auditioned for Muses, got in and have since become somewhat of a sensation around the city. This November they’re going to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!

Crowd outside Crescent Pie, the second stop on the 610 Stompers Bars Crawl

On Saturday hundreds of people turned up to drink at five different bars in the MidCity neighborhood of New Orleans. The Stompers marched the crowds to each location, performing their dances along the way. This was a well-organized event. New Orleanians take their partying seriously. There was a mustache contest, contest for the best 80s costume and a dance off. The NOPD were supervising the event and one office was even asked to participate in the mustache contest.

Despite the fact that it’s an all-male group, the Stompers have a group of women who support them. These women, dressed in pink tank tops are in charge of crowd control during parades. There was also another group of girls who seemed to be on-day support, dressed in powder-blue tops and red tutus.

The 610 Stompers and accompanying ladyfriends always stopped to treat curious bystandards to a liquid concotion that you could bet was alcoholic.

I was in awe of the subculture the Stompers created. Anywhere else this would be ridiculous, but here the joy, fun and enthusiasm is too much to resist. I’m proud to live in a city where groups like this are the norm.

The winner of the 610 Stompers 2011 Bar Crawl mustache contest.

I also realized it’s time to start me a costume box for such occasions. I’ll have to make trips to second-hand stores and post my findings on the blog. You won’t catch me uncostumed again.

The remains of the day, from a porta potty near the end of the night.