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.
The Under Armour All-America High School Football Game pits some of the country's top pigskin-handling seniors against each other in an All America game broadcast by ESPN. More than 90 promising young athletes pull out their hardest-hitting demonstrations of skill and announce their college destinations at the game, pumping up alumni and convincing burnt-out mascots to squeeze into the giant head one more time. The game has previously catapulted athletes including first-round NFL picks Julio Jones, currently a wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons, and A. J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals, onto the national stage. Tropicana Field contains the on-field and in-stand energy within a giant dome, protecting heads from the elements and sky-diving long snappers.
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."
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.
Joy Theatre straps young comedians to a fully packed parachute of theatre fundamentals—confidence, improvisation, acting, sketch comedy, stage fighting, character development, and more—before giving these young talents a chance to jump onstage in front of a live audience. Most classes meet on weekends and offer students the opportunity to perform in one of the theatre's Saturday or Sunday shows, which are open to the public. Kids 4–11 meet on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. for the Giggle Gaggle class (with performances starting at 2 p.m. and running the last hour of class); the older set, ages 12–19, meets on Saturdays and Sundays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. for their own Detention Span class and performance. Shy comedians and outgoing gorillas keeping a low profile in people suits can sign up for The Sunday Funnies. This class for ages 4–19 teaches all the essentials of improvisational comedy through games in a fun and welcoming environment. Instead of a weekly performance, Sunday Funnies keeps young stars in demand with a live performance every 10 weeks.