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Upcoming Events

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2016 LikeMinded…

Dec 6 - 6, 2016
The Holidays are here! Join us for our Tuesday, December 6 Holiday Soiree at… more

Art is the Driving…

Dec 6 - 30, 2016
Art has a power that reaches beyond personal visual expression. This exhibition… more

Bounce Ya Brass

Dec 6 - 27, 2016
BOUNCE YA BRASS takes signature NOLA bounce moves and teaches them in an… more

Celebration in the…

Dec 06, 2016 - Jan 01, 2017
City Park's annual holiday lighting exhibit and festival returns with one of… more

Christmas New Orleans…

Dec 6 - 31, 2016
There's no place like New Orleans for the holidays during Christmas New Orleans… more

Christmas New Orleans…

Dec 6 - 6, 2016
French Quarter Festivals, Inc. (FQFI) proudly presents the free Christmas New… more

Christmas with…

Dec 6 - 6, 2016
The Krewe du Voix Chamber Choir, New Orleans newest a cappella vocal ensemble,… more

Clarence John…

Dec 06, 2016 - Mar 25, 2017
A Louisiana native, Clarence John Laughlin (1905 - 1985) ranks among the most… more

David Hansen's Garden…

Dec 06, 2016
Since 2006, Hansen's Garden District Jazz Trio has performed every night at… more

Exhibition to feature…

Dec 06, 2016 - Mar 25, 2017
 The Historic New Orleans Collection will open its next exhibition,… more

Historic New Orleans…

Dec 06, 2016 - Apr 09, 2017
The Historic New Orleans Collection is gearing up for an exciting new… more

Holiday Home and…

Dec 6 - 31, 2016
Just in time for the holiday season, The Historic New Orleans Collection will… more

Jonathan Weiss Dark…

Dec 6 - 31, 2016
Tour company Jonathan Weiss Tours will donate 15% of proceeds during the month… more

Kulturabend: German…

Dec 6 - 6, 2016
Brigitta Malm and Rose Mancini will present various aspects of German Christmas… more

Miracle on Fulton…

Dec 6 - 24, 2016
NOV 22 – DEC 24 Hourly Snowfall 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Gingerbread… more

NapolĂ©on: General.…

Dec 06, 2016 - Jan 07, 2017
M.S. Rau Antiques will host a comprehensive exhibition Napoléon:… more

Newcomb Art Museum -…

Dec 6 - 30, 2016
Featuring work by nine women artists from the island continent, this exhibition… more

Singer/Songerwriter…

Dec 06, 2016 - Jan 06, 2026
In The Voodoo Garden, All Ages. House of Blues New Orleans hosts a new weekly… more

Winn-Dixie presents…

Dec 6 - 6, 2016
Meet New Orleans Saints players, mascots and Saintsations while helping feed… more

Ashe Cultural Arts…

Dec 7 - 7, 2016
"The Origin of Life on Earth: An African Creation Myth" that tells… more

2016 LikeMinded…

Dec 6 - 6, 2016
The Holidays are here! Join us for our Tuesday, December 6 Holiday Soiree at… 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