Bourbon Street — Dezra’s Versions

Bourbon Street No. 1
(This is where I introduce you to Bourbon Street.)

Friend: Let’s go down Bourbon Street.

Me: Cool!

We turn off Royal and walk the short block to Bourbon Street. It’s a Sunday night, the end of a weekend. Lots of people on Royal Street. Lots of people all over the place! The night is high on energy.

We turn onto Bourbon Street and I immediately cringe.

Me: There’s something wrong here! My voice rises in pitch…or panic…but not really because I don’t panic anymore, but I may start again just for tonight.

Friend: This is normal.

Me: No! I yell. It’s wrong. It’s…it’s…

What can I say?

Me: It’s LOUD, I shout. And…and…

Friend: It’s supposed to be loud. That’s how they desensitize you.

He’s acting normal. I’m shrinking into myself.

Me: And look at the signs all lit up.

But that’s stupid because the signs on Royal are also lit. WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS??? Oh, right, they’re NEON signs, created to assault your eyes in the night. I close my eyes.

Friend: The psychology is to desensitize you so that you spend more money.

Me: Looking up, looking down, looking at my friend, looking away, looking anywhere but down Bourbon Street. But what about people like me who shut down when overstimulated?

Friend: *sigh* (I heard that.) Yes, you do shut down a lot. (I do not.) But that’s not a bad thing. That’s just you.

I looked at him and then noticed we were on a side street. We weren’t shouting anymore. Bourbon Street was gone. We turn onto quiet Dauphine Street.

Me: Yeah. I know. I used to believe that I had to like this kind of excitement, and so I pretended to, but I didn’t. I used to believe I was broken because I didn’t like it. I don’t believe that anymore. It’s just who I am, and that’s ok.

Bourbon Street No. 2
(This is where I tell you how to walk through Bourbon Street.)

It’s threatening rain.

Friend: Let’s go down Bourbon Street.

Me: I glare at him.

Friend: If it rains, we’ll have some place to duck into.

Me: I nod my head.

We had been walking a lot. I had been racing to keep up with him all night so I was tired. I was sore. But it made sense to go down Bourbon Street where all the doors are open and everyone’s welcome no matter what the weather. Laughter comes from all sides and people duck in and out of girls, girls, girls, exotic girls, sexy girls, beer, cocktails, pizza, cabaret. I had already experienced a deluge earlier in the day and knew what the New Orleans’ sky was capable of delivering on a moment’s notice. So we turn down Bourbon Street.

And it screams at me. But this time I will not let it get to me. So I hold my head up, look straight ahead, and pretty much race through the long street, dodging men, stepping around women, and ignoring all signs of street life. I make it to Canal Street, the border between the French Quarter and the rest of the world, surprised that I’m not sore anymore and turn to my friend.

Me: Well, that wasn’t so bad—

My friend isn’t there. I look behind me and see him stepping his way through the crowd toward me. He’s glaring at me.

Friend: You really don’t like Bourbon Street, do you. I’ve never seen you walk so fast.

Bourbon Street No. 3
(This is where I show you pictures of Bourbon Street.)

Bourbon Street is like one big, overcrowded, outdoor bar. I don’t like overcrowded bars. I prefer to go to bars in the middle of the afternoon when no one else is there. So it makes sense that when I was out roaming the French Quarter in the middle of the afternoon in a downpour of rain that I would think, Hey, maybe NOW I can do Bourbon Street.

So, all by myself I turn down Bourbon Street. I STROLL down Bourbon Street. I take my time. I’m still bewildered by it. Even in the middle of the afternoon in the rain with hardly anyone there, I just don’t get it.

Anyway, here’s where I show you a picture of Bourbon Street.

Bourbon Street in the Rain

Bourbon Street No. 1

But I also feel really badly that I didn’t get a photo to show you of it teeming with people. So I added people to my photo. See how busy it is? And how much fun they are having? And they are walking the streets with booze in hand!!! I wish we could do that in Indianapolis.

Bourbon Street with Stick Figures

Bourbon Street No. 2 I got photo bombed. Sheesh.

Bourbon Street No. 4
(This is where I tell you some facts about Bourbon Street and show you one more photo.)

Believe it or not, Bourbon Street is not named after bourbon whiskey like I thought. It is named after the royal french Bourbon family, just like bourbon whiskey is named after the same family. So, even though Bourbon Street is not directly connected to bourbon whiskey, they are cousins. And it’s much more fun to participate in debauchery on a street associated with whiskey than on a street associated with royalty…unless you are royally debauched. But I wouldn’t know. I only go to bars in the middle of the afternoon.

Down away from all the neon signs is Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar. I made a special trip to see it just because I had heard about it. It was the middle of the day, of course, since I don’t go to bars at night. Lafitte’s claim to fame is that it is reputed to be the oldest structure used as a bar in the U.S. I’m sure the alcohol is delicious, too. And the food. I didn’t eat there. I had already eaten or I would have eaten there. And had a drink. To go.


Bourbon Street No. 3 This is the back door. It's much more interesting than the front door, although the front door is pretty interesting. It's just not as photogenic.

So there you go. Bourbon Street. It’s a great place if you like outdoor, overcrowded, exotic, exciting, fun bars. I do. But only in the afternoons.


About Dezra Despain

Life is full of stories waiting to be revealed.

Posted on April 26, 2012, in A New Orleans Experience and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Hysterical. I especially liked the stick figures, who seemed quite festive. Thanks for a good chuckle Dezra.

    • They were quite festive! Everyone is festive on Bourbon Street….except me and that guy kneeling in the gutter. But I’m sure he was quite festive before the gutter incident, and I was quite festive after leaving Bourbon Street so we all win!

  2. That really sounds like my kind of place–about 35 years ago, that is. I’m afraid I’m more like you. I’d much rather prowl the quieter parts and savor the subtleties. Good for you for your adventuresome courage, and for bringing some of it back for us!

    • Thanks, Gary. Bourbon Street is just one of so many places to see. It’s not really as bad as I made it sound and I’m sure given the right situation I would have been just fine. I’m glad I went even if I didn’t really stop to understand it. Maybe some day I will. If you ever get to New Orleans, you should visit Bourbon Street to get your own take on it. It is very lively.

  3. Wow, what a great account and I know how it feels to go and see something that you percieve as being a fantastic place to find out it is far from what you hoped it would be… with this in mind I would suggest you avoid the pyramids in Egypt LOL!! Joking apart, I loved reading this and enjoy your perspective on many things 🙂

    Especially love the stick figures!

    • Thanks, Martyn. I wouldn’t doubt but that the pyramids in Egypt are now over-commercialized and not the romanticized notion I have of them in my head. I bet the same goes for Chitzen Itza, too, and all those remarkable ancient places. Which is too bad.

      I had too much fun making the stick figures! I realized when I got home that I failed as a photojournalist to get photos of what I didn’t like as well as what I did like. So I had no other choice but to Photoshop people into that photo. Haha! My favorite is the one in the gutter. And the photo bomber.

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