If you’ve never been to Southern Decadence, you have a lot to learn! What follows is some advice gathered from locals that will help you get the most out of your decadent experience.
During Southern Decadence, some streets of the French Quarter do not allow parking – look for, and heed, no parking signs. So, plan on doing a lot of walking. Comfortable shoes are a must. Always walk where it is well lit and there are a lot of people. New Orleans is a city of neighborhoods. Like all large cities, the Big Easy does have some trouble spots. Always walk with others, never alone if possible. Don’t wander about the city. In New Orleans the neighborhoods change, literally, when you cross a street. Always carry a map. If you’re drinking, don’t go stumbling about the French Quarter. Locals know that the people who encounter trouble are usually the ones who have been drinking.
Unfortunately, Southern Decadence does attract some people who are out for more than a good time. When you walk the streets, don’t bring your wallet. Take the cash you need and some sort of identification and put them in a pocket that no one can slip their hand into. Don’t wear expensive jewelry. Basically, don’t take anything with you that you would have a hard time replacing if it were lost.
If your car is impounded, it will cost you over a $100 bucks plus whatever else the city decides to tack on. Your car can be retrieved from the City Auto Pound, located in a dangerous area of the city, 400 N. Claiborne Ave., (504.565.7236). This will spoil a good time. Cabs will be difficult to get during Southern Decadence. In addition, many cab companies enforce a “special event rate.” This means that you’ll be paying a premium for a taxi and, sadly, many cabbies take advantage of people during Decadence. If you are going to take a cab, don’t bother, we recommend UBER using the Uber App.
People are allowed to drink on the streets of New Orleans; however, you must ask the bartender for a “geaux cup.” (A “go cup” is a plastic cup.) Glass and cans are not allowed on the streets for safety reasons.
Bars in New Orleans are open twenty-four hours a day. Pace yourself. If you are going to drink, take it easy and slow. Most important, it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement and forget to eat. If you want to make it through the weekend, solid food is a necessity. Of course, New Orleans is world famous for its food and indulging is part of a complete New Orleans experience.
Clean bathrooms are a difficult thing to find during Decadence. Every business closes its facilities to everyone but paying customers. If your hotel is far from the action, take care of the more important business before you hit the streets. If you need to, plan on buying lunch or dinner and using the restaurant’s bathroom before you pay the check!
No matter how “bad” you have to go, do not urinate in the streets or on doorsteps or through iron gates. This is a fine way to end up in central lock-up and people who are arrested sit in jail until the courts re-open after Labor Day which will cost you about $200 or more. Besides, it’s not polite. Listen to your body. Get in line before you really have to go. By the time you’re crossing your legs, you might be at the front of the line.
During Southern Decadence weekend, you’re bound to get an eyeful. Public nudity and public sex are not allowed and the obscenity laws are still on the books. You need to use your better judgment on this stuff. It is possible to get into trouble by showing too much, and again, people who are arrested, sit in jail until the courts re-open after Labor Day, which will cost you much more than $200.
Beggers, panhandlers and con artists of all persuasions will be looking to scam the unwary and (especially) drunk visitor. If some con walks up to you and says “I can tell you where you got dem shoes,” you reply “YEAH! On my feet on Bourbon Street!” before he can con you out of a fiver or more. “If you play ya gotta pay.”
If you want to have your boots polished, do it yourself. Never take out your money (remember – you left your wallet and other valuables in the room) to pay for anything on the street. Of course, the Phoenix bar has a hot guy who will really put a shine on those boots; and, there may be a few people there who will do it for free.
Southern Decadence is a big party. People drink and are having a good time. It’s easy to forget that there is a real world out there. All the bars offer free condoms and there is no excuse. Don’t allow the party to overwhelm your better judgment. We want you to come again. Have fun and play safe!
Q—Is it true I can drink in public at SD?
A—Yes, you can drink alcohol in public in New Orleans year-round as long as the drink is in a plastic “go” cup.
Q—Can I go into a bar if I am between 18 and 20?
A—Maybe. The legal drinking age is 21 although some bars will allow you in, but not sell you alcohol, if you’re between 18 and 20. Many bars in New Orleans have video poker machines and the laws says you have to be 21 enter those bars.
Q—What’s up with VIP passes?
A—There is no official, comprehensive Southern Decadence VIP pass. Some bars, however, sell VIP passes for the weekend that are effective at their bars only.
Q—Can I have sex in the street?
A—Although not unheard of, public sex acts are illegal.
Q—Where can I go to the bathroom?
A—Wherever you’re spending money. Public urination / defecation WILL get you arrested. Don’t do it.
Q—Do all the bars take credit cards?
A—No. Some do but some don’t.
Q—Do all the bars have cover charges?
A—No. Some do, some don’t.
Q—Do all the bars raise their prices during Decadence?
A—Some do, some don’t.