Throwback Thursday: Bourbon Street.
Here is a post from two years ago today:
2 November 2015
I had planned – upon coming back from New Orleans – to write a lot about Bourbon Street.
Bourbon Street is a decadent place that is both cheerful and incredibly sad.
Anything that one can imagine that would be sinful in excess is there: strip clubs, massage parlors, 24-hour sidewalk bars, hookah/smoke shops, all you can eat buffets, and shop after shop of souvenirs that celebrate various forms of said over-indulgence and excess.
As well, the trappings of religion are everywhere: Christian preachers preaching hellfire and damnation, of judgment and shame in the midst of the red light district, while two blocks away, Voodoo priestesses hold court in the middle of the cobblestone alley-way, the low, husky chanting of their congregants echoing off of the walls, attracting the interest of tourists whom have strayed from various hawkers who’ve bombarded them with offers of free walking-tours, cheap drinks or discount meals.
(At least for the itinerant Christian preachers, if they can’t sell you on a drink, they will try to sell you on their God….)
But, on the upside, there’s art and there’s music – and musicians – on nearly every street corner, with artists hawking their wares from the sidewalks, alongside tarot card readers, psychics, and buskers willing to juggle or sing or dance or play with you for only a few bucks, won’t you show some appreciation for all that Bourbon Street has to entertain and amaze you?
And yet, Bourbon Street is a place of extremes: if it isn’t promising you a 24 hour access to an all you can stand to experience in the celebration of excess, then it is hidden, barricaded or locked up.
There’s gorgeous iron grill-work everywhere, serving as a deterrent to the casual on-looker from seeing, from accessing the inner worlds of Bourbon Street’s inhabitants.
Even the garbage cans have padlocks on them.
And then there are homeless people begging for change, hustling tourists for money by passing out cheap plastic beads in exchange for $5, or a cigarette or two.
V stopped lighting up as we walked because he became tired of being hassled every few feet for cigarettes and spare change.
We stopped taking pictures of the sights because it marked us as easy prey for the relentless street hustlers.
But V loved Bourbon Street, I suppose.
He constantly talked of going there, likely drawn in by the strange and rather tawdry aura of excitement that seems to surround Bourbon Street.
I found this aura to be oddly fragile upon further examination.
Bourbon Street had all the hallmarks of a carnival midway, and its promises struck me as similarly ephemeral.
As an empath, I found myself feeling intrigued, aroused…but also unbearably sad.
I couldn’t help but sense something yearning there; as if something had curled up and wept there, behind the iron scrollwork.
It became difficult for me to remain positive as I felt bombarded by the undercurrents of powerful emotions and sensations.
Yes, Bourbon Street is haunted… by a despair thinly disguised, hidden beneath the glittering layers of carefree fun and frolic.
Bourbon Street is reminiscent of forced laughter, a wan smile deftly masking pain and fear; you might sense its dark and sorrowful beauty as it lay upon everything there.
Bourbon Street is a lovely yet terrifyingly complex dream – the shadow of desires and shattered yearnings – stitched together.