Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Eve on Bourbon Street

Okay, so last night my cousin from Minnesota and I decided to roll down to New Orleans and spend NYE on Bourbon Street.  He wanted to experience something different and frankly so did I.  In 2013 I was asleep on my couch shortly after 11 PM.  I wanted to at least be awake and away from home this year.

Just to give you a bit of history, back in 1999 cuz and I decided to roll down to New Orleans that night to experience NYE during the Y2K hype.  I was 28 years old and unmarried at the time.  We arrived in NO shortly after midnight and walked up and down Bourbon Street a couple of times.  We were gone in three hours and back on the road to home.  To this day we don't know what prompted us to drive down in the first place, but we just did.  It was just something to do to say that we did it.

Fast forward 15 years later and we're at it again.  Much older, but just as determined to do something fun on NYE.  Now I'm 43 and unmarried.  So, since I'm not "boo'd up" why not get out of the house and do something fun?

Our trip on the way down was enjoyable because we listened to great music.  My cousin and I enjoy music differently than most people.  We both have a musical background and we listen to music instead of just hearing it.  Dissecting some of the intricacies of the music with someone who listens to music allows you to hear things you may have missed in a song.  We both enjoy isolating instruments and sounds that make up the song.  Each instrument plays a part in the total sound that we enjoy.  Time passed by quickly as we listened to everything from The Doobie Brothers to Maxwell during the three hour drive.

We arrived in NO at 11 PM and after walking six blocks we're on Bourbon Street by 1130 PM.  There were people everywhere!  Not just because it's NYE and Bourbon Street is a huge attraction, but also because the Sugar Bowl is being played on New Year's Day in the Superdome.  A lot of the people visiting the area are football fans of Ohio State and Alabama, the two competing colleges.

Despite the youth of the huge college crowd there were still plenty of people of all ages walking around with beads around their necks and adult beverages in their hands.  If you've never been on Bourbon Street on a holiday then I'll paint the picture for you: constant bumping and jostling from people who are sometimes shoulder-to-shoulder with you as you navigate through the crowd.  There's also the occasional jarring bump from drunk people who are having difficulty keeping their balance.  Sporadic nudity or extreme flirts from people who haven't a care in the world at the time.  The sounds of multiple genres of music emitting from each bar you pass every 20 feet.  There is so much to see and hear that it's really overwhelming to the senses.  The downside to all of the delightful distractions is that your safety can sometimes become secondary without you even knowing it.

It's so difficult to pay attention to every single thing going on around you that you sometimes forget that "people are people."  There are good ones and unfortunately, there are bad ones.  So, it's easy to accidentally be too close to a fight that breaks out, hit in the head with large beads being thrown from the balconies above, or stumbling over trash in the street and risking being trampled by the crowd.  If you decide to go for the first time then go with a group and make sure that you're watching out for one another.  My cousin and I are pretty big guys yet we still feel the need to watch over each other.  I can't imagine how some of the petite women that I saw last night made it from one bar to another.  Especially while drunk.

But, back to the NYE experience...  As the clock ticked down towards midnight you could hear the soundwave of people counting coming towards you.  By the time the clock was five seconds away the entire street was counting down in unison and Bourbon Street erupted (even more) as every person screamed "Happy New Year!"  I got a hug from an attractive, but too young for me, Alabama grad as we exchanged beads from each other's necks and made small talk.  But as quickly as the euphoria came, it left.  Everyone went back to doing the same things they always do on Bourbon Street.

Was that it?  Was NYE on Bourbon Street what I expected to be?

Actually, it was.  Hey, there's only so much you can do on a street filled with 5,000 drunks, right?  There wasn't an apple dropping from the sky or anything dramatic like that.  Just a bunch of people kissing and hugging in the street which is normal for Bourbon Street anyway.

What made the trip fun to me was hanging with my cousin and enjoying the sensory overload of Bourbon Street.  The eye candy, music, smell of good food, and more makes every trip to NO a memorable one.  Having someone special to share it with and a nearby hotel room would have made it even more memorable.  But, there's always next year, right?


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