When players don their vests, squeeze the handle of their glowing pistol, and enter Laser Tag of Metairie’s neon-lit arena for the first time, one thing is clear: this place does not take laser tag lightly. Capable of hosting up to 44 players at once, the multi-level, futuristic battlefield sets combatants loose among ramps, tight corners, and shadowy corridors ideal for ambushing adversaries or learning to knit in the dark. Each game lasts seven minutes, and the arena’s officials keep a quick pace, making sure when one battle ends, another will soon begin.
The clatter of skee-ball machines drifts from the center’s arcade, mingling with strings of notes from Guitar Hero and sounds from other games. Each machine is equipped with a swipe-card system that tracks players’ credits electronically so they no longer have to measure their self-worth by how many tokens are in their pockets. In addition, guests can test their steering skills in the Spin Zone, a bumper-car area with one quite literal twist: there are two zones on the track that will send cars into a tailspin if drivers attempt to pass over them or park on them to exchange insurance information.
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."
Helmed by Opera Louisiane music director Michael Borowitz, Chorus! soars through the sanctuary at First Baptist Church on the undulating sound waves of a 120-person choir and four soloists. Backed by a full orchestra, the Opera's own singers and those of the Baton Rouge Symphony Chorus pay homage to instantly recognizable works including the "Humming Chorus" from Puccini's Madame Butterfly and "Toreador Song" from Bizet's Carmen, moving the audience through dreamy, sweeping refrains and bold exclamations throughout a program that runs just less than two hours. Audience members may find themselves humming along in surprise to songs they already know from movies, commercials, or the soundtracks dogs hear when chasing squirrels.
Every day, hotels across the United States discard partially used bars of soap while people in poverty-stricken countries across the globe suffer from a lack of basic hygienic materials. Through the Global Soap Project, roughly 1,000 American hotels recycle their used soap into 30,000 brand-new bars per week. The organization's efficient soap conversion process delivers fresh bars to 28 different countries based on the greatest need.
Perched in the bustling Warehouse District near the Mississippi, The Sugar Mill beckons myriad acts and entertainment to its sprawling event center. Corporate conventions, elegant weddings, and music festivals can each take over the space, which boasts a 22,000 square-foot main floor and a 15,000 square-foot outdoor courtyard where local squirrels can toast to the lucky couple or boogie along to live music.
Overlooking St. Charles Avenue, Mia's Balcony offers Mardi Gras revelers a central view of grand, glittering floats and shimmering beads. But the restaurant isn’t content to host a party once a year; on the other 364 days, visitors cheer on the college, professional, and sock-puppet football games broadcast over the patio's outdoor televisions, and a banquet room is available for private soirees. While watching a Saints or LSU game or just chatting, guests can share small plates of seared scallops on the half-shell or fish croquettes or dig into substantial entrees such as pepper-jelly lamb chops. On weekend mornings, the chefs prepare brunch dishes including creole omelets and veal grillades over grits.
Local artwork, exposed-brick walls, and fireplaces set an inviting scene indoors. Bartenders fill glasses with craft beers, wine, and potent cocktails such as the French 75, a champagne- and gin-based drink based on a vintage recipe.