Since the age of four years old, I’ve been regularly visiting the city of New Orleans with major love. As my beloved grandmother was born and raised in this city, it’s served as a landmark for routine family vacations and visits for generations.
This time around, as my first time visiting NOLA as an adult, this brown boy was surely ecstatic about all the pleasures of strutting down Bourbon Street and living it up in the French Quarters.
From the main event of The 19th Annual Essence Music Festival, to all the fooly-wang that goes down on Canal street, trotting around drinking “grenades” and “hurricanes”, New Orleans spilled over with tons of memorable moments.
My travel day started off with a busy morning, then glided into tranquility as I enjoyed an extra smooth ride to LGA. Check-in was as good as it was ever gonna get for Laguardia Airport.`
Security lines were short and drama free. Except for the usual, having my Afro patted down.
I made it to my terminal just as they were boarding my section- and what do you know, I spotted Iyanla vanzant of The OWN Network’s Iyanla Fix my Life boarding my flight!
I didn’t have the chance to chat her up or pick her brain, but her energy was just as bright and down-to-earth as it is on TV.
Friday evening- I got into Nawlins pretty late, so of course I had missed a full day of the Essence Festival seminars. The good seminars, that were aimed at all the young, black and ambitious folks of my generation. Tired with tons of long lost family members to see, I called it a night and we all chilled at the family home.
Cool, country, and charming, our rental came equipped with plenty of lime trees, lounge chairs, and a nicely manicured lawn.
Full of adventure, celebration and festivity, we dropped off our bags and made our first stop in New Orleans the infamous Chicken and Daiquiri spot Melba’s.
Southern Hospitality rearing in at it’s finest, the lovely lady at the counter allowed me to taste test nearly every flavor of Daiquiri’s, until I finally settled for “The Panty Dropper” + a side of 8 chicken wings.
As we pulled away from the parking lot, I snapped a quickie so that I wouldn’t forget the name or location of Melba’s. I would then stop at this same Melba’s once a day, everyday for the next three days of my vacation, ordering the same exact drink and wing combo to go. =)
The next day, I threw on a slick little short set, perfect for Nawlins and made my way to the Mercedes Benz Superdome by nightfall.
In the midst of everything, I was more so mesmerized at just how huge this Superdome had turned out to be.
An honorable mention: I also bumped into a couple bloggers on my way into the superdome. One in particular included The Fashion Bomb Daily’s Claire, who was also sipping and chilling. We were both moving too quick to grab a photo, but for the sake of putting a name with a face, here’s a quick flick of us earlier this year when I bumped into her in Paris, during Paris Fashion Week:
20 minutes into the dome, Charlie Wilson wrapped up his set, and Boris kodjoe came out for a bit.
When I looked up, my roll dawg Raven had returned with a few drinks, so I captured a couple of pics of us in action.
Finally, New Edition hit the stage and powered up the arena.
Crisp air and flavorful excitement intertwined for more then just a few mellow moods.
New Editions performance turned up the atmosphere perfectly.
Though he wasn’t passed the mic as often as the others, my roll dawg Raven insisted that Bobby Brown sung as if his elevator didn’t go all the way to the top.
Indeed, this was the old school crowd that I adored.
Then, to topple off the night, we ventured off into the wild wild west, better known as bourbon street- celebrating my birthday and partying until the wee hours of the morning.
Ready for a jam packed full day of Essence Fest/ Birthday Shenanigans, day 3 was full of all sorts of magic and memories.
For one, I woke up honing the greatest gift I could ask for- LIFE! In addition, my very own momma had the above birthday card especially waiting to brighten my day, and of course make me forget about my hangover from the previous nights festivities.
Superdome bound: I hooked-up a little pocket square and vest combo, slipped on my everyday hat, and resumed my right to bear these sleeveless arms.
Upon arrival, Essence greeted us with a beautiful reminder, yet unfortunate condition for some. It was time to see Beyonce.
Dusting my boats around the arena became an exercise for today. As for the night before, I had only stayed on the ground level, but little did I know that all of the “Super Lounges” (the place where all of the smaller acts such as Luke James, Tamia, and Marsha Ambrosius were performing) were nearly a mile apart from each other inside the Superdome.
C’mon Essence, ya’ gotta do better on this one next year!
According to Wikipedia, traveling from one side of the Superdome to the other is over 5,000 square feet, and 1 mile= 5,280 feet. Go figure
Finally arriving at the Coca Cola Super lounge, I walked in just as Mr. Luke was firing up.
Through all of the technical difficulties associated with his act, and lewd talk via his performance lyrics, down looked Luke and their stood his very own momma on the front row.
“Omg, now why is my own momma standing here, right in the front row.” Shocked and a bit gagged, he laughed with the crowd as his tour manager(blue shirt) and the security snatched his momma up on stage for unexpected hugs and kisses.
At last, the technical difficulties were pulled aside and Luke got down to business. “I’ve truly been sleeping on this kid“, I thought as his voice emulated a solid mixture of Luther Vandross meets Prince.
When Luke James was all over and done with, I got a tap on the shoulder by a cute blast from my past.
Eboni(on the left) , recognized me from a fun and forgotten college modeling era I participated in during my HBCU days.
She and her friend were cute and showing me way too much love not to snag a quick flick. Then they wished me a happy birthday, said “peace”, and I started my journey to the next Superlounge.
Lollygagging and sightseeing a bit, I enjoyed people watching and eventually grabbed me a drink at this cool Electric Lemonade stand. It consisted of a blend of lemonades and
barely any Absolut Vodka.
As I was cuting away from the stand, I ran into Essence photographer Hannah Selah, the talented lenses woman responsible for snapping all the street style fashions that go up on Essence.com
She took my photo and told me she’d see if Essence would consider my look for the women’s “Eye Candy” of the day.
Cool, let’s see if I’ll make Essence’s cut this time, as I did when I was featured on their style section last winter (see below). Photo Credit: Hannah Selah
After a quick bathroom break, I headed back to my seat and did a quick scan of the Superdome layout from the 1st floor.
Passing a short aisle, I gazed down and noticed the VIP room jumping off quite nicely.
A little buzzed from my drink, I gasped as the lights dimmed and a projector screen featuring Beyonce’s queen B promo photo lowered from the ceiling.
The Mercedes Benz Superdome shuttered with screams and cheers as I shuffled through the crowd and made my way back to my seat.
“Who run the World?!” Beyonce sang, gyrated, and swung her weave to nearly all of her hit singles.
Never once was I a hardcore fan of Beyonce, yet after seeing her perform live, my respect and admiration for the woman has grown sincerely.
Skipping out on her last few songs, I made my way out of the concert a few minutes early to avoid the let out crowd.
“Hold on to your pocketbooks” I heard a woman yell. As you can see, Mrs. Beyonce had the entire let-out of the Essence Music Festival’s closing night flipped into a sardine convention. It was a good thing everyone acted civilized, because this fun occasion could’ve ended horribly.
The following evening, I enjoyed a low-key dinner and French Quarter close out bash with a few of my fellow Essence Fest vacation buddies in town.
Captured above, one of my new buddies Lenore photo-bombs my shot of these Jazz boys laying their instruments to work!
Following the close of one last amazing night, including a personalized tour of NOLA’s rich and prosperous St. Charles Avenue neighborhood, I finally headed home to wind down and pack for my flight home.
Till the next adventure,