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How to Let Loose in NOLA

Laissez les bon temps rouler in the most fun city on Earth (in our humble opinion…).

fqf second line
A second line during French Quarter Festival. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)

New Orleans is known for its vibrant culture, extensive nightlife, and array of activities for any and every type of person. Between the festivals, the bars, the music, the museums, and all that food – there is truly a way for everyone to have a ball. A trip to New Orleans means truly letting loose, so we’ve compiled a list of ways to do it in the Crescent City.

HOW TO LET LOOSE IN NEW ORLEANS

Attend a legendary music festival

A trip to New Orleans most likely means you’ll either intentionally or accidentally end up at a music fest. Prep by mixing a drink and putting on your dancing shoes – because annual events like Jazz Fest, Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Fest, and ESSENCE Fest are surefire ways to sing and dance your heart out with locals and visitors alike.

Musicians perform at Cajun-Zydeco Festival. (Photo: Cheryl Gerber)

Take a local dance class…

Whether you’re the ultimate beginner or a seasoned veteran, a dance class in NOLA is a perfect way to embrace the happy-go-lucky, carefree culture in the city while learning some new moves. Dancing Grounds in the Bywater offers hip-hop, salsa, burlesque, bounce (and yes – there is a “Twerkshop” class), and yoga classes for every level. Drop-in classes here are $12, and benefit a local organization that engages the New Orleans community through movement. NOLA Jitterbugs also offer a variety of free swing dance classes – see their site for details.

Cafe Negril on Frenchmen Street. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)

… and then show off your new skills with a night on the town

Needless to say, embracing the nightlife in NOLA is the perfect way to truly let loose. Whether you bar hop on Frenchmen Street in the Marigny and follow your ears to your new favorite jazz club, or you opt for a more iconic Bourbon Street bar crawl, your night will be one for the books.

Overcome your stage fright and get on that karaoke stage

Have you really let loose if you haven’t sung a rendition of “I Will Always Love You” in front of a room full of strangers? If your answer is no, consider these karaoke bar options in New Orleans: Cat’s Meow for that “I sang on Bourbon Street…” story to go home with, Kajun’s Pub for a dive bar experience in the Marigny (you’ll be surrounded by an eclectic and shameless group of karaoke stars here), or Little Tokyo if your group would like to opt for a private room.

The New Movement’s comedy (photo by Valerie Boucvalt).

See (or participate in) a comedy show and spend the whole night laughing

Plenty of New Orleans venues host comedy nights, where you can see a show or participate in open-mic nights. Check out some venues just outside of the French Quarter for a more local scene, like Buffa’s Bar & Restaurant (open-mic Fridays at midnight), Lost Love Lounge (booked show Tuesdays at 10 p.m.), and The Den at Howlin’ Wolf (booked show Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m.).

A second line during French Quarter Festival. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)

Join a second line parade

Once you’ve arrived to New Orleans, it doesn’t take too long to figure out that this is a city of celebrations. Weddings, funerals, festivals, Tuesdays… really – any day is cause for a second line parade. If you hear a brass band and jazz music parading down a street, followed by dancing people, don’t hesitate. Just join in.

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A sunset picnic at The Fly. (Photo: Paul Broussard)
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