A man stands above the crowd, overlooking the street party beginning to form at The Bubble House, the first residence festival goers pass when exiting the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival onto Mystery Street. The Bubble House is exactly what it sounds like, a house full of partiers that emits a constant stream of bubbles, each year with a different theme. This year's theme is Summer Camp. (Photo by Katie Sikora)
Upon leaving the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at the end of the first Friday, I was exhausted. I shot photographs for three separate acts and danced to many more, was covered in sunscreen and sweat, and was more than ready to collapse in my bed. But once I exited the festival onto Mystery Street, I was revitalized, suddenly full of energy and ready to go another round.
What exactly changed my disposition?
Jazz Fest after-parties feature revelers of all shapes and sizes. I even met a dog named Snuggles selling Jell-O shots.
In true New Orleanian fashion, everyone passing through the various exit gates was hit head on by a sea of residents ready to host perfect strangers at their Jazz Fest after-parties. And the tired, sunburnt festival masses were ready to accept their invitations.
Jazz Fest After-Parties Near the Festival Grounds
First Up: The Bubble House
If you leave the festival grounds through the Mystery Street exit next to the Jazz Tent like myself, you don’t have to go far to hit your first house party. It has been dubbed “The Bubble House” by owner Les Yoakum and his friends and it is, in fact, the very first house at which you can start your post-Jazz Fest shenanigans.
The Bubble House is almost exactly what it sounds like: a house with a constant stream of bubbles, each year with a different themed party (this year’s is “Summer Camp”). “We go through 25 gallons of bubbles,” Yoakum says, adding that 2007 was his first year, “so next year will be our tenth anniversary.” I tried to get him to tell me the theme for the tenth anniversary party, but his lips were sealed.
In true New Orleanian fashion, residents are ready to host perfect strangers at their Jazz Fest after parties.
Next: Maurepas Street & N. Lopez Street
I turned down Maurepas Street and found myself on N. Lopez Street, on the outskirts of the after-party epicenter next to Liuzza’s By The Track. There, I found partiers and festival-goers of all shapes and sizes dancing to the music of the New Life Brass Band. On one side of the band were artists selling custom second line umbrellas; on the other side a puppeteer putting on a puppet show; across the street was a man grilling from the bed of his pickup truck. I even met a dog selling Jell-O shots.
My last encounter during the raucous activities was with a street performer by the name of Jennifer Jones, who dances at jazz funerals, parades, and festivals, spreading a message of peace and spirituality. People from across the country and the world come to New Orleans for the Jazz & Heritage Festival; locals fill in the gaps to show visitors what it truly means to love New Orleans and its heritage.
Yes, we all love the music of the city, and yes, we all enjoy the fest’s great food and drink (this is New Orleans, after all), but what these after parties allow us to do are celebrate one another. See what I mean below.