This article was published on September 7th, 2017
Step aside, Mardi Gras, for a party just as big, just as wild, and gayer than a pink flamingo. Every year, New Orleans serves as hostess Labor Day (Gay) weekend for a series of dances, parties, events, parades, and overall debauchery called Southern Decadence. The annual tradition continued with Southern Decadence 2017, as tens of thousands came to indulge in the The Crescent City.
The roots of Southern Decadence go back to August 1972, when a group of 40-50 friends started a party and gave it a theme. They called it “Southern Decadence Party: Come as Your Favorite Southern Decadent.” Guests and everyone who attended were required to come dressed as asked: decadent and fabulous. Now, each year over 180,000 gay men and women descend upon the The City that Care Forgot over Labor Day weekend in an annual pilgrimage that has become a rite of passage for the LGBT community.
Southern Decadence 2017 was fierce! The second largest gathering of people in New Orleans—the Las Vegas of the south— the annual Southern Decadence is a staple in the Big Easy. From August 31 – September 4, 2017, thousands upon thousands of people arrived into Louisiana for great DJs, amazing parades, live music on every culture, the heat, the gayness, the performers, the history, and one the largest gathering of LGBT people in America.
Souther Decadence 2017 saw groups of friends from all over the world meet in New Orleans over the Labor Day weekend. As goes tradition, on Saturday and Sunday there were groups of friends dressed in themed outfits walking the streets, tossing beads, and enjoying day.
The highlight of the weekend was the Sunday parade as it wound its way throughout the French Quarter, past all the favorite gay bars, with the Southern Decadence grand marshals leading the way. There were bands, floats, and colorful and elaborate costumes. Following the parade, most gathered at St. Anne’s Street at Bourbon Street to take part in the bead tossing tradition. Balconies were crowded as thousands of eager people begged and were flattered to receive the coveted beads.
The beauty of Southern Decadence is that you can make it a weekend uniquely your own. The tradition is to come with a group of friends, and the rest is completely up to you. It’s a long weekend event to take at your own pace, your own style, and in your own way. It’a fabulous way to get to know the Cajun Capital.
For example, if you’re an architecture buff, you can walk around the French Quarter and downtown for some truly stunning and original buildings. There are multiple tours available, including architecture walks, ghost tours, Cajun Encounters swamp tour, and historical walks and ventures through New Orleans.
Foodies savor the plethora of fresh seafood options and Cajun / creole fare. For a slower, more relaxed pace, or simply to take a break away from the buzz and excitement, riding the heritage streetcars are always fun.
The bars are open 24/7/365 in NOLA, so you can get your drink on any time – and best of all, you can take your Stoli or hurricane cocktail from bar to bar. Bars for dancing, bars for people watching, to bars with dark rooms. Whatever you want to indulge in, you can get it in N’awlins. And it was especially true during Southern Decadence 2017.
While there were some who came to chill and appreciate the environment of being in one of the best cities in North America, others were all out, balls-to-the-wall, knee deep in total debauchery. Southern Decadence 2017 will go down in history as another fantastic year of tradition with old and new friends. If you’ve never experienced this incredible do-it-your-way gay event, start planning now with the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, and get it on to your vacation calendar for next year. If you’re gay but you’ve never been to Southern Decadence, you just haven’t lived, honey.