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See and Be Seen at Southern Decadence this Labor Day in New Orleans

For a different Labor Day experience, head to New Orleans for Southern Decadence, the biggest party of the summer, dubbed the “Gay Mardi Gras!”

Labor Day: it means so many different things to so many people. For stockbrokers, a celebration of the markets closing. For kids, celebration of a day off work. For historians, a celebration of some real historical thing that only they remember. And for stores, a celebration of the official start of “Come to Our Store! It’s Almost the HOLIDAYS!” Cue pumpkins and turkeys and tinsel-strewn floor displays.

For gay and lesbian communities nationally, and New Orleanians locally, Labor Day has a special meaning. A Southern meaning. Southern Decadence, a.k.a. Gay Mardi Gras, is one of the largest annual celebrations and festivals in New Orleans, as well as the premier gay and lesbian Labor Day destination spot, to be precise. It’s an opportunity to celebrate and see and be seen – preferably in costume – thanks to five days worth of fabulous events in and around the “gay epicenter” of New Orleans: Bourbon and St. Ann streets.

What’s the best way to do Decadence? Why, I’m glad you asked. First, check out its amazing history, penned by GoNOLA’s own Edward Branley. Second, scan prime picks from the event schedule below. Third, note this year’s themes, should you need inspiration – Decadence has a rotating theme (for 2013, “Live, Laugh, and Love”), official colors (fuchsia pink, tangerine orange and gold), and an official song (“Feel The Moment”). Finally, take my favorite approach to Decadence: don something scantily or creatively costume-ish; bike, walk or otherwise make your way to the Quarter; pick up a monsoon at Port of Call (and if you haven’t properly prepared your stomach, a burger wouldn’t go amiss); and follow the bared abs and beautiful boy masses to the sights and sounds of Southern Decadence. For what not to miss at Southern Decadence this year, check out our top picks below and check out the full schedule for everything else.

GoNOLA’s Top Southern Decadence Picks in New Orleans

1. Lance Bass – Yes, that Lance Bass. The one who is one degree away from Justin Timberlake. The one whose N’Sync stylings made a generation swoon and sigh. The one who will broadcast his SiriusXM satellite radio show “Dirty Pop” LIVE from the balcony of the Bourbon Pub & Parade on Sunday afternoon. Pro Tip: not in town? Catch the action on SiriusXM channel 109 on Sunday at 4 p.m., CST.

gay in new orleans
The costumed crowd at Southern Decadence (Photo from Flickr by Renee LaVeau)

2. Southern Decadence Parade – It’s a parade. In New Orleans. Through the French Quarter. With 120,000 fabulous folks. ‘Nuff said.

3. Boys on Parade – The same thing as Southern Decadence Parade? Nope. Actually a parade? Double nope. Try a strip contest like no other strip contest you’ve ever seen, provided you’ve ever seen a strip contest at all. Like every Southern Decadence event, the music will be bouncin’, the bodies will be happenin’, and the fun will be lastin’ long past the midnight hour – no pumpkins during Decadence weekend.

4. Hung Over and Broke Closing Party – On the note of parties that never shut down, and music that never lets up, let’s clarify some language. When I say Southern Decadence falls on “Labor Day Weekend,” I mean “weekend” in the sense of “come to town on Wednesday, leave the following Tuesday, party the day and night away in between.” Catch the last, lusty shout-out to Southern Decadence splendor at the Hung Over and Broke Closing Party on Monday night, hosted by the weekend’s unofficial sponsoring bar, Bourbon Pub and Parade, kicking off at 9 p.m. with DJ Sean Michael.

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