Do you Voodoo?


As of this writing, the mud hasn’t yet dried and City Park is still littered with branches and fronds and more than a few random clothing and Halloween accessories – a lonely sandal here, two socks that look like wet rocks, a pink boa (I think it’s pink, or once was, at least), a crumpled Storm Trooper mask and trails of glitter down all sidewalks leading to and from the park.

All a cheery trail and reminder of the annual magic – and mud – of autumn’s wonderful Halloween festival in New Orleans. The Voodoo Music + Art Experience, by its official name.

It’s easy to look back and say I’m too old for this nonsense. But it’s also easy to forget that at Voodoo. To get lost and tossed in the masses of millennials, and whatever the generation younger than them are called these daze, who are dancing and twirling and tripping all over themselves – in every sense of that word.

It is an insanely joyous spectacle to be surrounded by tens of thousands of young people whose ambitions and optimism have not yet been dimmed by the harsh blunt reality of jobs, politics and mortgages – to join in their infectious, mesmerizing tribal rituals of jump hug laugh.

Among other feelz, it gives you, mostly…hope? As someone from my g-g-generation once sang: The kids are alright.

This was the first time I ever spent the weekend there without running into at least one of my own kids. But two are off at college (so that would have been awkward) and the third is more into soccer than Skrillex, so he was off on his own field of dreams this weekend.

Not that there’s anything wrong with soccer.

Running into your own kids out there can be amusing. They avert their eyes at all cost and want to flee but then their friends gaggle and say, “Hi, Mr. Chris,” and your kid just wants to die, right then and there.

Being 35 years older than everyone around you can be initially disconcerting. You don’t dance like they do. You don’t talk like they do. You don’t dress like they do. Well, at least, those who are actually “dressed” in a conventional sense, that is.

But there’s not a lot of convention going around Voodoo these days.

If you are eligible to join AARP, it would be easy to get self-conscious in such an environment until you realize – you’re invisible. The gathered masses, they don’t see you. You might as well be one of the 300-year-old oak trees. Just…there. That is, until one of the tribe confuses you for someone who works there and calls you “sir” and asks you a question that you have no idea how to answer.

But you know you’re at Voodoo when some beautiful wild child of God asks you for directions to Le Plur.

Um, see those really bright lights over there? Try that. And then it takes everything in your lost and lonely beat down paternal soul not to shout as they walk away: YOU KIDS BE CAREFUL!

My partner, she clutches my shirt and says: “Don’t.” So I don’t.

But I want to.

I think this was also the first year I didn’t run into any of my own friends out there, even though we went all three days. At this point, I’m guessing the best way to find my old acquaintances and peers now would be to find them idling in the carpool line outside the park when the festival shuts down each night.

Yes, there’s actually a carpool line at Voodoo. Isn’t that adorable!

One thing that remains the same for the years I have been attending is that I’ve never heard of any of the bands on the schedule. Seriously. With the exception of Guns ‘n Roses and Beck this year, I couldn’t tell you who anyone was. That’s before the shows start. And that’s the beautiful thing; by the end of the weekend – this year and every year – it’s the same thing: I have 20 new favorite bands.

Which is kind of weird actually, because I don’t really “like” any of “that” music, for the most part. EDM, EMO, E*TRADE – whatever the musical genres are called these days – it’s not what I generally listen to while tooling around town in my car.

But maybe I should. It goes from cage-rattling industrial noise to truly soothing-to-the-soul electronic flights of fancy. And if you pair it all with $3 million light shows and surround it with ten thousand happy dancers dressed like bunnies, zombies and dominatrices – what’s not to love?

Seriously, if you’re feeling old next October, do yourself a favor and check it out. One of two things will happen. 1) For three glorious days you will forget that you’re old. (Although you certainly will remember on Monday.) Or 2) After 20 minutes inside the gate, you will know you’ve made a terrible mistake and flee for the doors to go back home and watch the LSU or Saints game.

I choose the first. Besides, you already know who’s going to win the games.

Here’s a couple samples from this year. When you listen, you realize it’s not a far reach from the same melodic, seemingly joyous nihilism that we thought was happy dance music when we listened to it when it was by bands called Yes, The Moody Blues, Tangerine Dream and the Cranberries. Enjoy.


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