It may be housed in one of the French Quarter's most historic properties, but Bourbon Heat is far from old fashioned. Inside its Carriage Way bar, a lighted bar stretches along one wall, big-screen TVs above it broadcasting the evening's sporting events. After, revelers can visit Club Heat where colorful LED lights revolve around the space, illuminating the dance floor as the DJ pulses house music and rhythmic beats.
But, if you're paying attention, you'll notice the crystal chandeliers and exposed-brick walls that hint at the more traditional vibe found outside. There, at the Courtyard Bar & Grill, wrought-iron tables are scattered across a flagstone patio where Bourbon Street's jazz musicians are often overheard. In this allegedly haunted space, servers ferry colorful cocktails from the carved wooden bar and traditional New Orleanian dishes such as jambalaya and po' boys. Inside, guests can kick back and listen to live tunes or watch live sporting events on one of its LED screens.
The District dovetails classic New Orleans cuisine with modern entertainment in its dining room, stacked with on-screen entertainment and rustic wood furnishings. Exposed-brick walls harbor the aromas of freshly piled poboy sandwiches and plates of jambalaya with red rice and beans. Behind the wraparound bar and its small skyline of spirited beverages, bartenders augment the creole-tinged eats with wine, bottled beer, and 11 draft beers. A massive 82-inch TV flickers amid seven smaller 55-inch flat-screen TVs, chattering sports stats in unison like Snow White and her dwarfs explaining basketball to Dopey. In addition to televised entertainment, The District's quiz show, aptly named Jeoparty!, lavishes winners with prizes every Tuesday night.
Situated amid the willows, stone bridges, and mirror-calm waters of Louis Armstrong Park stands the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts. Named after a history-making gospel singer and civil-rights activist, the three-tiered auditorium was built in 1973 and hosted concerts, comedians, and other entertainment straight through 2005, when it was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina, a known enemy of the arts. In 2009, the theater reopened thanks to the dedicated work of Mayor Ray Nagin, the New Orleans City Council, and hundreds of workers and artists.
Every week, New Orleans's longest-running improv comedy troupe, Brown Improv Comedy, crafts one-of-a-kind hilarity based on the suggestions of theatergoers and bar patrons. The group runs with the suggested topic, creating skits and interactive games to tickle guffaws out of the audience. Having just celebrated their 18th year of performing, the team is well versed in turning out the funny and has outgrown the angst-ridden eye rolls of their 16th and 17th years of performing.
Competitors in the Southwest Division of the NBA’s Western Conference, the New Orleans Hornets have regaled the Big Easy’s hoops fans since migrating from Charlotte in 2002. Egged on by the vespine mascot Hugo, swarms of 17,000 fans swathed in light blue surround the court inside New Orleans Arena, where a center-hung LED board displays live-action video and instant replays of referees' most spectacular cross-court jogs.
In 1977, Professor Longhair didn't have long to live. As a human bridge connecting early 20th century blues, traditional Big Easy jazz, and Cuban funk, the now legendary musician changed the soundtrack to the city, paving the way for acts such as Dr. John and Allen Toussaint. Perhaps most notably, he penned the ubiquitous carnival anthem "Mardi Gras in New Orleans." But when it looked like his time was up, the NOLA community wasn't going to let him fade away. A group of fans, dubbed "The Fabulous Fo'teen," sought out a spot for the "Fess" to play at until his dying day. And that's exactly what he did at Tipitina's. They even named the place after one of his songs.
Proof that a former gambling parlor and cathouse can change its ways, Tipitina's century-old building has earned a reputation as one of New Orleans's finest music venues. Within its hallowed walls, many famous Crescent City acts have launched to stardom, from funk collectives such as The Neville Brothers and The Meters to rockers like Better than Ezra and the Radiators. All of these names grace the outdoor Walk of Fame, and the club also attracts national artists such as Wilco and Nine Inch Nails. However, the venue's immersion in the musical community goes beyond just shows—it also hosts music lessons for kids, weekly Cajun dance parties, and a retirement home for senior citizen horns. But as much as Tipitina's has expanded over time, it pays respect to the Longhair of its namesake every year with the appropriately punned "Fess Jazztival."