With Carnival season in full swing and the Saints heading to the Super Bowl this Sunday, New Orleans is ready to party. We asked local blogger G.K. Darby to share some of the best spots for watching the game.
New Orleans native Corey Woods of the Nine Times Social and Pleasure Club* has a phrase for when someone really puts on a party: “wiping it down.” “Did you ‘wipe it down?’” he might ask. For the past few days New Orleanians–of every shape and stripe–have been wiping the town down.
It’s hard to find a person in New Orleans who isn’t drinking or eating to excess with overwrought, tear-filled faces. The city is about to blow a gasket.
Overblown sport narratives deserve a special place in misery along with holiday parade coverage and entertainment “news,” but this town has chosen to use the Saints
triumph as a bookend. Mired in a permanent state of reform since 2005′s Hurricane Katrina, the city has yearned for the storm days to be over, and the Saints, epic losers for 42 years, have miraculously provided a finish.
The night the Saints clinched their Super Bowl spot on Sunday, January 24th, music filled every intersection–brass bands led spontaneous, rambling parades, shutting down major city boulevards. The city didn’t sleep. The next day the local daily newspaper ran a poll: “What excuse did you give your boss to stay home today?” “Working from home” got 17 percent of the vote.
The Mayoral election is scheduled for Saturday, February 6. The Mystic Krewe [Carnival Club] of Barkus will go ahead with its parade on Super Bowl Sunday, February 7, at 1 p.m. Barkus is a dog parade–dogs in carnival costume. The theme? “The Dogs Go Barking In.” Everyone is wondering if anyone will show up to vote.
So where will New Orleanians watch the game? (Everything is closing except the bars where people have traditionally watched the Saints.) Here are a few spots where you’ll find yourself in pleasant company.
Liuzza’s By the Track (1518 North Lopez Street) has two small un-sports-bar-like televisions, but attracts a fervent group of locals, like Abram Shalom Himelstein, who works as a writer at the Fairgrounds horse track a couple blocks away. He’s not a big football fan and usually listens halfheartedly on the AM radio. But for the last game Himelstein stood nervously at the foot of Liuzza’s bar as the Saints improbably pulled out a win against the Minnesota Vikings. Per Louisiana superstition, he will be standing in the same spot on Super Bowl Sunday.
Port of Call (838 Esplanade Avenue) has one television tucked into a corner. The “L” shaped bar makes most bar stools “obstruction view” seats, and yet a healthy group of locals make it to this tiki and burger bar for every game. New Orleans is dominated by icky fruit cocktails, but Port of Call has the best.
New Orleans’ most enthusiastic trumpet player, Kermit Ruffins, owns Sidney’s Saloon (1200 Saint Bernard Avenue). Expect a spontaneous blast of local live music to emanate from Sidney’s if the Saints somehow beat the Colts. Ruffins has a giant fleur-di-lis tattooed across his chest.
Erin Rose (811 Conti Street) is a French Quarter bar with a NASCAR theme that counts strippers, punks, deliverymen, and lawyers as its dedicated clientele. On Super Bowl Sunday they will have free food.
Win or lose, a “Saints Super Bowl Parade” will roll on Tuesday, February 9, starting at 5 p.m. at the Louisiana Superdome (1500 Sugar Bowl Drive). The plan is to have the Saints players ride on a series of floats donated by various Carnival Krewes from across the city.
*In the late 1800s social aid and pleasure clubs, largely made up of African-Americans, were created to pool resources to help pay for hardship and funeral expenses. In contemporary times, these clubs have dropped their insurance function and instead worked to unify neighborhoods through community work and second line parades.
Photo: Above, JustUptown, via Creative Commons on Flickr; Two shots below, G.K. Darby