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Upcoming Events

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17th Annual Martin…

Jan 28 - Mar 7, 2015
Join us for the 17th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Art… more

Alliance Francaise

Jan 28 - 31, 2015
Learn French with the Alliance Française- now in METAIRIE! Our next… more

Andrew Jackson: Hero…

Jan 28 - Mar 29, 2015
THNOC's exhibition tracks Jackson's rise from humble beginnings to immortality… more

Artist Spotlight…

Jan 28 - Mar 31, 2015
New Orleans-based woodturning artist Tom Dunne will be the featured artist in… more

BODY ELECTRIC Group…

Jan 28 - Mar 1, 2015
Inspired by Walt Whitman's "I Sing the Body Electric", this… more

DANCING WITH THE…

Jan 28 - 28, 2015
Dancing with the Stars, ABC's leading entertainment show, produced by BBC… more

Dishcrawl on Oak

Jan 28 - 28, 2015
Get ready for a fun night of exciting, unexpected dishes from top-rated… more

House of Blues…

Jan 28 - 28, 2015
A death metal band from New York, this seasoned group has put out thirteen… more

Maple Leaf Bar…

Jan 28 - 28, 2015
Join us for live entertainment featuring Mainline Brass Band. more

Mark Steinmetz: South

Jan 28 - May 10, 2015
Mark Steinmetz lives and works in Athens, Georgia. His work transcends the… more

Music at the Mint…

Jan 28 - 28, 2015
Come and enjoy the music of Jazz with the New Orleans Rhythm Devils. more

The Gasperi…

Jan 28 - Feb 22, 2015
Richard Gasperi opened Gasperi Gallery in the French Quarter in 1980.… more

The New Orleans…

Jan 28 - Nov 18, 2015
Marvel Universe LIVE! will captivate audiences with an authentic and original… more

The Victory Belles…

Jan 28 - 28, 2015
Noted for their close harmonies and synchronized dance steps, the Andrews… more

House of Blues…

Jan 29 - 29, 2015
Deputy combines island sounds with drum and base. His performances are unique… more

Le Petit Theatre…

Jan 29 - 30, 2015
Broadway's first rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice illuminates the… more

Maple Leaf Bar…

Jan 29 - 29, 2015
Come join us for Johnny Vidacovich, Mike Dillon & Brian Haas. more

Music at the Mint…

Jan 29 - 29, 2015
Vocal ensemble. more

Ogden After Hours…

Jan 29 - 29, 2015
Join us for Ogden After Hours featuring Jonathan Freilich. more

The Columns Hotel…

Jan 29 - Mar 26, 2015
The Historical Columns Hotel with its "sophiscicated atmosphere" and… more

17th Annual Martin…

Jan 28 - Mar 7, 2015
Join us for the 17th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Art… more

Picking up the pieces: Tourists come back to New Orleans

Picking up the pieces: Tourists come back to New Orleans
by Jeff Tidwell

While San Francisco's LGBT community and city government were struggling with a safe approach to celebrating Halloween and shut down the Castro this year, New Orleans was opening its arms to the community for a celebration with a renewed excitement and taste for fun. Last month, the New Orleans Metropolitan Visitors and Convention Bureau invited a group of travel writers to the city with the goal of showing off the city to LGBT tourists.

Though there is no shortage of stories of unfinished business from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, there is finally some good news for New Orleans. In the central tourist destination of the French Quarter, spirits are high and it's business as usual. If you're considering a getaway, put New Orleans at the top of the list. There's plenty of fun to be had and you'll feel welcome in the town that lives by the expression "Laissez les bon temps roulez" - Let the good times roll. Additionally, one of the city's great traditions, Mardi Gras, takes place in February. Gay Mardi Gras is scheduled for February 1-5 to coincide with the city's longtime event, which culminates with Fat Tuesday.

If you're heading down for a brief stay, you would be wise to set up headquarters in the French Quarter for easy access to the action. We stayed at Harrah's, which is very savvy in catering to gay audiences and has a longtime New Orleans writer and bon vivant, Bonnie Warren, setting the tone for its public relations.

Warren hosted us at Brennan's Restaurant for a brunch with piles of crab, administered by a team of veteran waiters ensuring the meal was fun and trouble-free for all of its guests. Brennan's invented the term "eye opener" after seeing the reaction to a drink it offers for the morning crowd called "Punch" - made of brandy, milk, and nutmeg.

The French Quarter is a rich bohemian neighborhood where music is the central focus. Great jazz, blues and Cajun music is everywhere and is a constant thread that runs through the culture. It comes streaming from the lively bars and restaurants along the streets. There are brass bands on the street and kids tap dancing for tips.

To get a take on the gay scene, you can grab a copy of *Ambush* magazine. It's packed with the local hangouts and a calendar of events. But it's not very hard to find the fun in New Orleans. Walking down Bourbon Street in the Quarter we found a couple of gay bars along the way. The Pub has a great balcony for watching the show go by, and a favorite, the Corner Pocket, is a really fun spot with a late night scene that can't be beat.

After an eventful evening, it was time for a hearty 3 a.m. breakfast at the Clover Grill. This 1950s joint is packed and featured an ongoing performance of dancing cooks in full view from the open kitchen. The sounds of Michael Jackson and Prince were blasting through the restaurant. This place is a blast.

The next day we rented bikes at Michael's Bikes. It's a relaxed way to discover the narrow streets of the Quarter. Near the bike shop, there is a wonderful old-school gay bookstore called FAB "Faubourg Marigny Art & Books" on Frenchman Street. There are piles of dusty books and vintage publications. It also has a gallery worthy collection of gay-themed paintings by local artists that spans 50 years.

We then peddled to the Garden District on Magazine Street. This street goes for miles and miles and is known for its plentiful antique stores. The prices are fair and, from what we saw in the few homes we were able to peek into, it seems that folks in New Orleans take their antiques seriously. For the more contemporary tastes, we found the perfect mid-century furnishings showplace called Neophobia. If architecture is your interest, the Garden District is home to some spectacular examples of Victorian splendor with grand porches and gardens dripping with the humidity-loving fauna.

A couple more great eateries are worth mentioning. Muriel's is located in Jackson Square in a historic building rumored to be haunted. We started with drinks in the Seance Room where our Tarot cards were read, to the delight of our companions. Then dinner is served in a perfectly restored and opened dining room. The menu provides a contemporary take on Cajun cuisine. The turtle soup with sherry was a nice surprise.

A lively joint a bit uptown is The Upperline, hosted by the colorful Joanne Clevenger, a longtime fixture in the Quarter as the purveyor of the vintage shop. The simple dining room was lined with original paintings from her many artist friends. Here we dug into the seafood more seriously and topped it off with warm Louisiana Pecan Pie.

Jeff Tidwell is the proprietor of Camp Dude, a gay vacation spot near Yosemite. http://www.campdude.com

For more information

http://www.neworleanscvb.com

http://ambushmag.com

http://gayharrahsnola.com

http://www.brennansneworleans.com

http://www.cornerpocket.net

http://www.muriels.com

http://www.upperline.com

http://www.clovergrill.com