March of the Bachelorettes
Party time in the Quarter
Jason Raish Illustration
It’s the holiday season. Time for all manner of celebration and convocation. The season for friends and family. For hearth and home.
More than anything else, it’s the season for...bachelorette parties?
Actually, it’s always the season for bachelorette parties in New Orleans. It’s our new blooming cottage industry. An economic force. A social media phenomenon. A veritable thing. A thing worth paying attention to.
If you’ve spent any amount of time in the French Quarter over the past few years, this is no surprise to you. It’s the bachelorettes’ world; we just live in it.
They are ubiquitous, unmistakable, unabashed, un-nuanced and unavoidable: Gaggles of young women in matching customized T-shirts printed with lewd phrases, clustering on sidewalks, clenching glow-in-the-dark beverages, clutching their pearls (well, Mardi Gras beads, really), staring into their devices and then staring off in all directions wondering which way to go next.
Most likely to Cat’s Meow or Pat O’s.
They laugh, they shriek, they stumble a little and they spend a lot. Bars, restaurants, hotels, fashion boutiques, salons, day spas, ghost tours, limos, Jell-o shots, 5-Hour Energy drinks, feather boas, Mardi Gras beads and … matching lewd Ts.
So profound is the phenomenon that the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau has an account executive charged exclusively with the coordination of bachelorette parties, bachelor parties and weddings.
What a cool job, right?
“It’s something that’s exploding, that’s for sure,” said Rachel Funel, the aforementioned NOCVB specialist, about the bachelorette party thing. “We’re pretty heavy with it. It’s more in your face, more out there than it’s ever been. A lot of those 25 to 35 age groups of women. It’s a bucket list for a lot of them.”
To what does Funel attribute this recent growth of New Orleans’ bachelorette party industry? “Pinterest,” she said, and she’s not kidding. “Social media is driving it as much as anything else.”
Girls go wild. Girls post pics. Girls share pics. Girls follow other girls. To New Orleans.
As someone who makes his living walking around the French Quarter (giving music history tours that bachelorette parties are generally not interested in), I have witnessed the explosion of this phenomenon over the past few years.
I pass them all the time, weaving chains of women holding hands, gawking, glaring, giggling. They are benign. They are goofy. They are having fun. They are spending money. And they will love this city forever because of their adventures here with their best friends, celebrating the hopefulness of youth and the promise of love eternal.
OK, that might be a stretch, but there’s nothing wrong with optimism. Everyone’s a winner, right?
So I went online to see what’s the buzz about all this, if it’s just my imagination (or fascination?) or whether bachelorette parties are indeed a new and expansive trend in New Orleans.
And I found a trove of websites, blogs, reviews and other platforms testifying to New Orleans’ optimal destination site for bachelorette parties. And every one of them was dated from either 2017 or 2018.
Babesandbeignets.com offers a guide to day drinking for bachelorette parties in New Orleans. Camelsandchocolate.com notes: “No shortage of male strippers!” (Exclamation point mine.) And on it goes. If you’ve got a free hour, Google “New Orleans Bachelorette Party” and feast your mind.
Some cities are rising on tech. Some are reinvigorating manufacturing. Donald Trump says some are embracing coal. New Orleans, we’ve got the brides.
It’s only fair that women finally got their own city to blow off steam before The Big Day, a place to bond with besties, cut loose, flirt with strangers, act a little stupid, eat things they would probably not eat back home and do things they probably would not do back home.
But for the final word on this, I turned to my friend mikko, the lower-case, mononymous New Orleans writer and French Quarter tour guide, who encounters this phenomenon nightly and takes a dimmer view than myself or the CVB.
“These ladies arrive in matching pink T-shirts with plastic penises blinking on their heads, fishbowl drinks hanging from their necks, they laugh at inappropriate times, loudly telephone the two friends that didn’t make the trip saying how awesome the tour is, eventually heave out an “I love you so-ho-ho much!” between sobs on the bride-to-be’s shoulder, and then leave the tour abruptly just before the tip speech.”
And so it goes.
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. What happens in the French Quarter is, mercifully, often forgotten.