New Orleans Essence Fest
New Orleans Essence Fest was amazing! I’m speaking from all the comments I read on social media. I just visited New Orleans during the Essence Fest but I never stepped foot on Bourbon St or into the Super Dome. I missed the whole AfroBeats show on Friday night at The Republic. Long but funny story. I can’t drink like I used to. My mind says I’m 25 but my liver and stomach are clearly a few months from being 40. That about sums it up.
Some things I learned/knew already:
1. You don’t HAVE to go to the shows every night to enjoy Essence Fest. The shows can take up too much time. Show starts at 6 pm. You don’t get out until around 1 am. All to repeat the next day. No thanks.
2. The Convention Center does not have good food. But you eat it anyway because that’s all that’s convenient. Try Mulate’s across the street. They have a clear chocolate martini that’s a mind trip but is excellent.
3. Grilled frog legs are delicious. And alligator really does taste like chicken. In the words of a friend, at least we know frog legs aren’t processed meat. Bon appetit.
4. Chargrilled Oysters still reign supreme at Acme’s Oyster House. Dragos uses way too much of a creamy butter concoction. I said what I said. By the way, I had an oyster shooter for the first time. The concept is weird but it was pretty good.
5. Dipping your beignets in hot chocolate will change your whole life. Got that tip from Giselle on Real Housewives of Potomac. Try it next time.
6. It’s always hot in New Orleans in July. No matter the time of day or night. Relaxed and natural hair go through it with the humidity. Just get used to it.
7. Try something different. I went to the Whitney Plantation Tour and participated in a hands-on New Orleans Cooking Class. We made creole ratatouille, veal des allemands, Louisiana meat pies and dark chocolate pecan pie. I even learned about a new vegetable, Mirliton. I devoured all the creole ratatouille.
8. Don’t let the hotel staff set you up with a “free upgrade”. I booked a regular king room with a river view at the Marriott on Canal Street. About 7 drinks in and an offer of free champagne had me agreeing to this “free upgrade” to a king suite. I woke up on what looked like a sofa bed, a kitchenette, living room and a six person dining room table with a city view. I got got! Note: There are rooms called Parlor Rooms that are used for overflow and are supposed to be the living area space of another suite. Definitely not the upgrade I was expecting. I’m switching to Le Meridian ASAP.
9. Slutty Vegan from Atlanta did a pop up in New Orleans. Same quality burger but no fries. The Zappos chips were good but I really wanted the fries. I give them a 3 out of 5. Without the fries, is the burger even worth it? Nope. Not for me.
10. Big Freedia was a BIG LET DOWN. I was extra hype to see Big Freedia in New Orleans. Production must hire extras to come to the Big Freedia TV Show while taping. The actual concert was about 50% full and we were at a super small club (standing room only). The girl dancers looked tired and there were no male dancers. I did learn that second line bands perform on stage and not just walking down streets. Soul Rebel was decent. Mannie Fresh DJs now and he is decent too.
11. The women at Essence were really inspired by the Girls Trip Movie. I’ve never seen so many women in matching shirts/outfits since going to amusement parks in the 90s. It was so over the top the whole weekend.
12. Don’t sleep on those side street reflexology places. I know. They use Jergens baby powder lotion as massage oil. But, they get you right when you need that good bootleg foot rub done.
13. The rumor was that Beyonce would come out to perform Before I Let Go with Frankly Beverly and Maze. Although it would have been an epic situation and I’m a lifetime Beyhive member, I still wasn’t moved to buy any tickets. Eh. I’m old school. I like the original version. Plus, my knees aren’t set up for low low low part in Beyoncé’s version.
14. The Marriott in Canal Street is a club from 5 pm - 8 pm every evening. Live DJ and all. People dancing and drinking. So convenient to get a good two step in. But nah. I’m not about that club life anymore. I’ll pass.
15. My friends and I had the best time dancing in Harrah’s Acme. No one else was dancing. But we swore we were the life of this imaginary party. There is a video of these shenanigans floating around on the internet. Fun times!