Wednesday, August 31 through Monday, September 5, 2016
If nothing else, New Orleans certainly knows how to throw a party, from the world-famous Mardi Gras to other, more specialized celebrations. One of those began quite inauspiciously on Labor Day weekend 1972 and has evolved into Southern Decadence, which is today the #1 gay and lesbian event in New Orleans. It was originally just a small party to mark the end of summer. Now in its fourth decade, it has evolved into one of the best-attended events in New Orleans. It is fondly referred to as the Gay Mardi Gras. In 2015, over 180,000 people participated, according to the New Orleans Convention and Visitors' Bureau. Held annually during Labor Day weekend, people begin to arrive on Wednesday and most stay right through Monday. The festivities are non-stop. The annual effect on the economy is estimated to be approximately $215 million, making it one of the top five events held in New Orleans. The dates for 2016 are Wednesday, August 31 through Monday, September 5.
The French Quarter is the epicenter and is crowded for the whole weekend. Sunday is the big climax, with the streets crowded from one side to the other. It is all in anticipation of the parade led by the Grand Marshals. For almost thirty years the parade route was a guarded secret, often decided on-the-fly as the procession meandered through the French Quarter. Now there is an official parade route, which is available here: Southern Decadence Parade Route. Many revelers are oblivious to the parade, content to party in the streets and the bars.
Ground-zero of Gay New Orleans is the intersection of St. Ann and Bourbon Streets, and this is even more evident during Southern Decadence. On this corner is The Bourbon Pub / Parade, the city's largest gay entertainment complex, Hit Parade retail store, and the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, home to many visitors and ghosts alike. All of the main gay landmarks are located within a couple of blocks. And in New Orleans you are generally allowed to take your cocktail with you as you sashay from one establishment to another.
There are no large organized events away from the French Quarter, with the clubs hosting all of the dance parties. The bars remain open 24 hours a day, and the partying seems to never end. During the day the celebration encompasses the bars and the streets, which are generally closed to vehicular traffic. At night, many of the best DJs from the circuit rule the dance floors, as the beat of the party moves inside. But make no mistake, the streets are active all night long, with the energy and excitement filling the sultry end-of-summer air.
Here's what some people have said about Southern Decadence:
If I had to tell someone what it is or how to enjoy it I would say let your inhibitions down and just go for it.
My first experience was last year, and MAN did I HAVE A BLAST! The heat was unbelievable, and the crowd even hotter. The delightful, almost unbearable heat is the perfect excuse to run around almost naked, day and night.
It was an incredible weekend. Yes there were strippers, in true New Orleans form, wearing VERY little, and boy are they friendly. If you go to New Orleans, go with an open mind and a smile on your face. You will LOVE IT!
I love the muscle dancers / strippers. They walk all over the bars at The Bourbon Pub and The Parade, and the bartenders serve drink between their legs!
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. And for other Southern Decadence contact information, please check HERE. And please remember that this wonderful event would not be possible without the generosity of the Official Sponsors of Southern Decadence.
THE OFFICIAL SOUTHERN DECADENCE WEBSITE
GAY MARDI GRAS
HALLOWEEN NEW ORLEANS
Circuit Party News