It’s a typical Tuesday night on Bourbon Street. Young people clutching dangerously strong daiquiris roam the narrow, neon-lit strip, past a gaudy parade of bars, strip clubs and tattoo parlours.
Competing spruikers try to lure people inside with the promise of cheap drinks, while up on a balcony a group of guys is yelling at girls to lift up their tops. Two men stand morosely outside an empty bar wearing sandwich boards that read: “Huge Ass Beers”.
This is my first time in the French Quarter and I’m struggling to reconcile the scenes with the romanticised vision in my head. New Orleans is, after all, the birthplace of jazz. I want to wander through the Quarter’s historic streets to a soundtrack of soft clarinet melodies wafting from behind wrought-iron balconies. Instead, this feels like Sydney’s Kings Cross on a Saturday night.
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