Anatomy of an all-nighter in New Orleans

It started as a reasonable enough evening. By which I mean that the caterer at the hotel was a no-show when the cocktail hour started so I headed behind the bar and opened a few bottles of beer for other attendees at the conference. But I was reasonably moderate to start. I was chatting with old friends and making new ones. It was all good. And most everyone had dinner and drinks planned with customers or vendors that night. Being neither I was on the outside looking in. And I was pretty happy about that. A couple drinks at happy hour, maybe a quick dinner and I’d be ready to go the following morning for day two of the conference. Oh, that is so not how the night ended.

Around 9pm I wandered from the hotel over towards the French Quarter. There was awesome architecture along the way, such as this church door on a random side street.

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And eventually I ended up where I usually do in New Orleans, sitting at the counter of Felix’s Oyster Bar. You can have your Acme Oyster House (across the street) all you want. To me this is the real deal. Old school, with massive oysters and guys having fun serving them while engaged with the patrons, many of whom are locals and regulars. I had a dozen (which ended up being 15 or so) and a Po Boy. It was entirely too much food but it helped absorb the couple beers I chased them with.

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At this point (~10:30pm) it was not too late to head back to the hotel and turn in at a reasonable hour, having enjoyed a solid night in NoLa. Except one of my friends sent a text that his dinner was wrapping up just around the corner so I should stop by. I did.

There’s something a bit disconcerting about walking down Bourbon Street on a Tuesday Night in the off season in New Orleans. It is eerie in many ways. Empty bars? Sure, we’ve got those.

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Or head to a show at one of the many venues offering up live music. We hit the piano bar at Pat O’Brian’s and it was decidedly the 2nd or 3rd string working that night. But somehow the party started growing. More and more of the conference attendees were there and things were building. I probably should’ve taken the hint when they closed that bar at 2am and ushered us all out rather brusquely. That would have been a good time to go to bed as well. Instead it was on to Fat Catz for dancing.

And then the dancing wrapped up; we needed something a bit more chill. Like sleep. But instead we headed to yet another bar, the Erin Rose. The next frame of reference I have for time comes from this spectacular photo one of my friends took at 4:01am. A guy walked in off the street, announced himself as the “Gumbo Man” and asked if we were hungry. Probably a bit hungry and definitely drunk we agreed to cups of gumbo, topped with a big chunk of soft-shell crab, from the guy. And I know the time because of the photo.

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The next few hours was more fun at the bar. We talked, laughed and even drank a wee bit. I don’t know what motivated the movement, but someone decided it was time to head back to the hotel. So we stumbled outside. It was daylight. Oops.

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Knowing full well that my system needed something to offset the alcohol, and also that this was my last morning in town, I weaved my way through the quiet streets to acquire the best thing I could come up with for settling my stomach. And really just some of the best food in New Orleans, beignets and a hot chocolate at Café du Monde.

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It was just after 8am when I got back to the room. I was definitely still drunk and more than a little tired. Suffice it to say, I missed most of the morning sessions at the conference that day.

That evening was quite a bit more tame. Just a spectacular view down the runway at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and a last glimpse of the mighty Mississippi before I passed out once again and slept the whole way to Houston.

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And for about 12 hours after getting to Houston.

I’m pretty sure it was worth it, though. That was one heck of a night. Definitely still some open questions about decisions I made and actions I took. But on the balance I think I did pretty well overall. Also, I’m pretty sure I’m getting too old for this.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Sounds like every one of my trips to New Orleans. I mean, is there anything to do other than drink (and eat) in New Orleans?

  2. @ Gene-Let’s see…if you ignore history, art, architecture, music, culture, sports, and nature, then no, there is not much to do besides eat and drink in NOLA…

    Unless you are interested in the National WWII Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Cabildo, and the New Orleans Museum of Art…the tremendous number of places to hear live music, most of which are not in the French Quarter-as well as Jazz Fest, Voodoo Music Experience, and the Essence Festival…the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, the Chalmette Battlefield Park, and the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge…

    You, my friend, are missing out on so much more.

  3. I’ve done all- nighters in NOLA. But the best city for all-nighters, not Vegas, close 2nd, ….New York. I did NYC for 20 years, until I was almost 50. Seth, you have many more years of all-nighters to go. And more places to explore doing.

  4. Sounds like a great time was had by all. Everyone needs one of those nights once in awhile. Of course a nap day after is also crucial.

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