Editor’s Note: The following series “All about Jazz” is a week-long series curated by Rena Repenning as part of the Digital Research Internship Program in partnership with ViaNolaVie. The DRI Program is a Newcomb Institute technology initiative for undergraduate students combining technology skillsets, feminist leadership, and the digital humanities.
Yes, this is the time when we’d be swarmed with floral shirts, drinking mango freezes, and sweating to our favorite beats in the sun, but due to COVID-19, the annual New Orleans Heritage & Jazz fest is postponed until Fall 2020. However, that doesn’t mean we all won’t be getting down and dancing in our living spaces. WWOZ will broadcast for 8 days-8 hours each (11am-7pm), the same days and hours as the originally-scheduled Jazz Fest (April 23-26 and April 30-May 3). So turn up the volume and get down to our Nola sounds! To also get you in the mood, we are bringing you a virtual Jazz Fest from the fests of the past. Originally starting in 1970, Jazz Fest is a staple in New Orleans culture and showcases musicians and talent, new and old. Happy Jazz, everyone, and we can’t wait to dance with you again in the hot hot sunshine (and pouring down rain, of course!)
This article was originally published on 5/2/2018.
It’s springtime in New Orleans and festival season is in bloom. There are so many events, concerts, after events, and parties that many of the basic necessities can be forgotten. Where to go to the bathroom that doesn’t make you want to vomit? Where do you charge your phone when you’re out for 12 hours every day? Encountering almost every obstacle ‘festin,’ I’m sharing some locals’ secrets to enrich the fest experience for the modern day single girl headed to The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Single Girl’s Best Kept Secret: The Fairgrounds’ Grandstand
The Grandstand is every girl’s best friend. It’s an oasis from mother nature, whether the day be full of heat and sun or rain and clouds. This is the place where you can find clean bathrooms, food, and tons of free toiletries. There’s a bar where Kadrell Batiste, the bartender who is full of spirit and smiles, says, “Even though I’m working, I’m festin’!” She’s “Mahogany Doll” of the Renegade Rebel Baby Dolls. It’s an all-female group, so she knows the importance of women finding refuge from the outdoors.
That’s not the only lady in the Grandstand helping out the single girls. Nanette Taylor is in charge of the 1st floor restroom, and this is not her first fest. As she proudly states, “13 years! I love helping out the ladies of Jazz Fest!” My single girl’s tip when you run into Nanette: tip her. She deserves it.
Single Girl’s Best Outside Secrets
Now that you’ve had your indoor reprieve, it’s time to move back outdoors where the excitement is really happening. You won’t always be able to run to the Grandstand, so there are some awesome outdoor spots that are must-knows for the single girl.
Staying hydrated is free at Jazz Fest. You just have to think a bit ahead by bringing an empty camel pack. You will be thanking yourself when your throat is dry and you need liquids that won’t affect your brain cells. If you forgot anything, like an empty camel pack, head to the General Store. It has mostly basics, and it will also get you out of the sun for a bit. And if, like many people at Jazz Fest, you have been shooting video and snapping photos on your phone while also texting to tell your friends, “Look for the pork chop on the pole. I’m right under that,” then your phone may need a recharge mid-day.
Here’s how the phone charging works. It’s a $25 deposit for the charger, and when you return it at the end of the day you get $20 back. So, in the end, $5 to make sure you can stay in contact with your friends. Now for the real survival tip for the outside: look for shade! There are loads of trees around the Fairgrounds, and you can also take shade in some more creative ways, like among the artistic tombstones near the Congo Square stage.
Single Girl’s Amazing Finds
So you’re cooled, you’re hydrated, and you’ve got what you need. Now it’s time to indulge in some luxuries. Scattered throughout Jazz Fest are artistic tents, and some of these tents are offering exceptional deals. A lot of them are full of handmade products that are made and sold by our fellow ladies. I found myself drawn to the gorgeous jewelry. Each copper/coral and copper/printed glass ring was only $12. I couldn’t resist, and they made a wonderful accent to our mango freezes. Everything from hats to scarves to photographs are possible purchases. Just remember that you may have to carry what you buy, which is why I kept it simple with the ring.
More than anything, remember to be safe and have fun. Take smart chances, and you never know what might happen. For instance, before I knew it, my friend and I were hoisted on the shoulders of a group of handsome doctors dressed in matching white tanks picturing a wolf wearing glasses.
As quickly as they picked us up, they were gone. Well, they were there long enough for the photo opportunity to be captured. You never know what you’re going to find when you to come to this city. New Orleans has always been my playground and Jazz Fest is my favorite ride.
Be safe, single girls, and happy ‘festin!’