NOLA nightlife on a dime

Claire and I got into our Uber Saturday night with one mission: to spend a fun evening in the French Quarter for under $20. Yes, the Quarter, home of tourist traps and overpriced everything. However, despite my hatred of the Quarter, or at least of swarms of tourists, I wanted my freshman sister to see some of the best-known places in the city, so I swallowed my pseudo-local pride built up over the last three years and stepped out of the Uber next to Dat Dog on Frenchmen, trying to ignore the mysterious smell of the puddles on the street

Colleen Dulle

Stop 1:  Route to Frenchmen Street

Pro tip: if you’re taking an Uber to Frenchmen Street, set Dat Dog as your destination. If you just put in the street name, the pin drops in a scary-looking alley in the middle of nowhere where the street supposedly begins.

Our driver Brennan told us he’d once found a large group stranded there after their Uber driver had insisted they stop where the app said.

Cost: $7.65

Stop 2: Vaso

On Fredsc09003nchmen, Claire and I stopped into Vaso, universally loved among freshmen for reasons I can’t legally publish. It’s known for its cheap drinks and lack of cover charge, and it rarely gets lit before midnight. Still, it’s a great place to grab some drinks that you can carry out as you check out the rest of the street—thank goodness for NOLA’s open container laws.

We decided to pass on drinks and see what else we could find.

Cost: $0.00

Stop 3: Between Frenchmen and Chartres Street

Back up the street, one of my favorite groups was already blocking traffic at 9:30; it’s a band ofscreen-shot-2016-10-01-at-1-17-05-pm seven or so brass musicians whose upbeat set, played for tips, draws tons of tourists—but I still can’t resist, because they’re so good.

Claire and I danced in front of the crowd, having a great time, and at one point a cute stranger even started twirling me around.


Cost: spare change for tips

Stop 4:  Faubourg Marigny Book Store

screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-1-19-10-pmClaire and I wandered into a bookstore on Frenchmen that I’d never seen open before. Filled with towering piles and shelves of dusty books, it was something of a Hogwartsian library which on second glance was filled almost exclusively with gay and lesbian fiction.

The walls were papered with equal parts old Tennessee Williams Festival posters and nude portraits, and the place was silent save for the jazz drifting through the walls. We wove through the tiny aisles, past racks of erotic postcards, taking candid photos of one another and laughing as some other patrons who’d slipped in began stuffing the contents of the free condom jar into their bras.

Cost: $0.00

Stop 5: Somewhere on Decatur Street

screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-1-23-16-pmAfter the bookstore visit, Claire and I decided to take Decatur Street back toward Canal, led by a vague desire for beignets. While we never ended up at Cafe du Monde, we did stumble into an alley where a near-silent art market was set up.

We started chatting with a jewelry vendor who’d dropped out of UNO per his dean’s advice—he already had several successful businesses and had come back strong after the flooding.

Claire told him she hadn’t yet chosen a major, and he advised her to “smoke a good joint, take a step back and look at all the things you could do” before choosing.

He also told us there was a great local art market at Fulton Alley where the refugees from the Frenchmen Art Market went.

Cost: $0.00

Stop 6: The Ritz-Carlton

We wove through the Quarter and stopped into Muriel’s to see if I could show Claire the seance room, but it was closed for a party, so we continued on to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

For real.

You can go dancing to Jeremy Davenport’s band Wednesday through Saturday in the classy lounge on the third floor of the Ritz, and it won’t cost you a penny. Claire and I ended the night here, watching the couples dance and giggling at Davenport’s cheesy crooner demeanor. I’ve passed some good nights here, dressing up and dancing with friends, pretending to be classy.

Cost: $0.00

Final stop: Route to Loyola

Since we’d spent so little of our budget and were still sleepy from going out the night before, Claire and I took an Uber back to Loyola. We both had a free ride since I’d invited her to download the app, but it charged me a penny anyway. No biggie.

Cost: $0.01