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Upcoming Events

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"Prospect.3: Notes…

Oct 30, 2014 - Jan 25, 2015
Prospect New Orleans, the International Contemporary Art Biennial,  will… more

Andrew Jackson: Hero…

Oct 30, 2014 - Mar 29, 2015
THNOC's exhibition tracks Jackson's rise from humble beginnings to immortality… more

Brahms and Bartok

Oct 30 - 30, 2014
Join the LPO for a symphonic tour of Eastern Europe! The journey begins with… more

Crawloween at …

Oct 30 - 31, 2014
Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium invites guests to celebrate Halloween… more

Crescent City…

Oct 30 - 30, 2014
Join us for live traditional Jazz entertainment. more

Friends of the…

Oct 30 - 31, 2014
Friends of the Cabildo, support organization for the Louisiana State Museum,… more

Greater Baton Rouge…

Oct 30 - Nov 2, 2014
Carnival rides, food, music, kids' activities, animal shows, games, exhibits. more

Jazz in the Park

Oct 30 - 30, 2014
Jazz in the Park returns for nine straight weeks this fall,  with a… more

Jazz in the Park…

Oct 30 - 30, 2014
Jazz in the Park returns for nine straight weeks this fall,  with a… more

Krewe of Boo- New…

Oct 30 - 30, 2014
The Krewe of Boo Halloween night parade will have several elaborate theme… more

Maple Leaf Bar…

Oct 30 - 30, 2014
Join us for live entertainment featuring Oteil Burbridge, Nicholas Payton,… more

New Orleans Halloween…

Oct 30 - Nov 1, 2014
If you thought that the only time of the year for great entertainment in New… more

People United for…

Oct 30 - 30, 2014
People United for Armstrong Park will be hosting a "Halloween Costume… more

Sacred to the Memory…

Oct 30 - Nov 17, 2014
Showcasing both the historic Hermann-Grima House museum and St. Louis Cemetery… more

Southern Rep presents…

Oct 30 - Nov 2, 2014
In a remote cabin deep in the woods, an old crone spins a spellbinding tale… more

The End is Near: The…

Oct 30 - Nov 1, 2014
The House of Shock Haunted House and Halloween Festival launches its final… more

THE GUANTÁNAMO PUBLIC…

Oct 30 - 30, 2014
This traveling exhibit examines the history of the U.S. naval base in… more

The Mysterious…

Oct 30 - Nov 23, 2014
You are invited to the Mysterious Wisterias Plantation for an evening of music… more

The Victory Belles…

Oct 30 - Nov 19, 2014
Noted for their close harmonies and synchronized dance steps, the Andrews… more

The Victory Belles…

Oct 30, 2014 - Jun 24, 2015
Noted for their close harmonies and synchronized dance steps, the Andrews… more

"Prospect.3: Notes…

Oct 30, 2014 - Jan 25, 2015
Prospect New Orleans, the International Contemporary Art Biennial,  will… 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