I’m admittedly still very new to the city. I’ve lived here nearly three months and, though I grew up in Mandeville, am still in the endlessly entertaining process of discovering New Orleans. At the risk of revealing my own naïveté, I’m also new to living on my own. I graduated from LSU last year and then completed a Disney internship, after which I lived with my parents while looking for a place in the city. So, needless to say, I’m still very wary of my skills navigating New Orleans, especially alone.
And therein was my quandary last Friday when I was faced with the problem (though it was a great problem to have) of having a ticket to the Voodoo Experience to see one of my favorite groups, Weezer, but having nobody with whom to go –– at first anyway.
I’m already pretty directionally challenged, so my unfamiliarity with New Orleans’ layout is a big hurdle. I was also (and this is embarrassing to admit) nervous about walking into a festival and concert alone and likely watching it alone. I wasn’t sure if I was self-possessed enough or confident enough or just “cool” enough.
But it was Voodoo. And it was Weezer. So really, I had no choice. Our editor in chief, Errol Laborde, graciously offered to let me park at his City Park-adjacent house, thus avoiding the stressful task of navigating side streets and questionable parking spaces. He assured me that I’d be able to hop back on the streetcar after the concert and make it back to his home (and my car) in one piece. His wife, Peggy, then told me: “Oh, you’re going to Voodoo? Honey, you’re not going to be alone.” I was still apprehensive, but feeling better.
The second I stepped into City Park, I knew I’d made the right choice. I’ve attended Jazz Fest every year for the past five years, and though I still absolutely love it, it’s definitely the perkier, sunnier sister festival. Voodoo’s dark and quirky ambiance quickly sucked me in. I loved the light displays, the lasers, the costumes, the energy. I made my way to the stage where Weezer would play, feeling pretty good but also wondering if my fellow concert-goers would find a lone spectator strange.
Next to me was an older woman with gray hair, sitting on her own. But on second glance, her hair wasn’t merely gray; it was also covered in glitter. I was instantly intrigued. She sported a skull-and-crossbones scarf and a leopard-print hat in the Blossom style. She, like myself, didn’t care about being alone. I was full from a Lucky Dog and an order of fried Oreos, and life was good.
Oh, wait! She had matching leopard-print gloves? This lady was my kindred spirit, my Voodoo comrade, though we hadn’t spoken (and sadly, never did). But there we were, sitting by ourselves, not needing any companions to get excited for a great concert.
Despite my best efforts to be the lone wolf that evening, I was inevitably drawn back to members of my pack. A friend from college whom I haven’t seen in years happened to walk in front of me while trying to navigate the crowds. I decided to break my solitude.
The concert was spectacular: energetic, passionate, fantastic all around. I sang along to every song and danced like a mad person. When I thought it couldn’t get any better, my co-worker Sarah texted me that she’d arrived and somehow managed to get on stage. I quickly bid adieu to my friend (she understood) and raced to the stage like a manic teeny-bopper. Somehow, I too managed it. We watched the remainder of the show from a special platform on the side of the stage, feet from this band I adore and looking out onto a mass of thousands of screaming fans; it felt a little surreal. But the night was perfect.
As I made my way to the streetcar stop, I couldn’t believe I ever even considered missing out on that night –– that, even for a second, I didn’t think it would be worth it, all because I was nervous to go to Voodoo alone. So I learned yet another lesson from New Orleans: Sometimes you just have to suck it up, eat some fried Oreos, dance all by yourself, climb on stage and have the time of your life.