As Cat Stevens sings, “Baby, it’s a wild world,” and more people than ever are caught up in the daily hustle and grind. In today’s technological and industrial society we’re constantly “plugged-in,” receiving information via phones, computers and television, and more than ever it’s hard to just shut out all of the stimuli. Lack of work/life balance and sleep deprivation will also contribute to stress levels and its adverse effects. Surely as with many other New Orleanians, I’ve also been recovering from walking the routes, drinking daiquiris and shouting “Throw me something mister!” during Mardi Gras.
So I sought out a quick way to get back to center, unplug and recharge. My quest brought me to an off-the-beaten-path gallery-warehouse-type art gallery in the Marigny called Castillo Blanco.
Outside of the white building is a little free library built into a robot statue, and a colorful, feminine mural painted on the front. Inside, Castillo Blanco has a stage, a green room and VIP lounge, office space, communal work areas and three restrooms, and claims to host one of the funkiest in-house light shows in the city. In addition, the building is used as the Krewe of Chewbacchus headquarters, event space and storage for parade props. As a bonus, and what brought me to this eclectic sci-fi lover’s dream gallery in the first place, Castillo Blanco also has a sensory deprivation tank.
Often also referred to as an “isolation tank,” the idea is to get in a large, quiet and dark closed-in tub filled with water heated to body temperature, approximately 98 degrees, and several hundred pounds of pharmaceutical-grade Epsom salt. The water’s high salinity makes it impossible not to float, making you feel completely weightless and relaxed. When you enter the tank, you should be nude, have your hair out of your face and close yourself inside. Then, you relax your body and your mind and just float for from anywhere between 60 and 90 minutes.
Castillo Blanco calls their tank the “Space Sanctuary,” fitting for the whole building’s theme. Right before you enter the Space Sanctuary there’s an entire shrine dedicated to the Krewe of Chewbacchus-created satirical sci-fi religion they’ve named Cult of the Drunken Wookie. The shrine is decorated with various Star Wars and other sci-fi memorabilia, including a dirty sock and lock of hair from Peter Mayhew (the original Chewbacca actor himself).
Built by members of the Chewbacchus Krewe, the tank was inspired by cult-classic 1980 film Altered States, and has a three-filter system. The room the tank is in has multi-colored lighting decals to simulate the seven chakras and sets the tranquil atmosphere for the meditative state of mind you’ll enter once floating.
The experience left me feeling great. I was in a fantastic mood. Everything appeared more visually vibrant. It felt like I had taken a very restful nap, any tiny paper cuts I had were healed completely within the day from disinfecting in the salt and any muscle soreness was relieved (via the large dose of Magnesium from soaking in the Epsom).
I have already gone on to Groupon and purchased a few more discounted 60-minute sessions to indulge in during the next rough deadline. You can book your sensory deprivation tank experience and read more about all of the installations found at Castillo Blanco by visiting 4321SaintClaude.com.