If the next time you are in New Orleans, you find yourself wondering who will make you dance during your visit, the local rapper Big Freedia has your answer. “I’m that queen that’ll make you bounce!” she crows on one of her best known songs. You can hear Big Freedia’s music playing in cars as they pass beneath the live oaks, or in French Quarter corner stores when you’re picking up a drink, or in darkened neighborhood bars between the band’s sets. Her version of bounce music, a New Orleans genre of hip-hop, is hypnotic, and her dance parties are some of the rowdiest party scenes in this rowdy party city.
The success of Big Freedia (birth name Freddie Ross Jr.) in the Deep South might seem surprising: She is a 40-year-old gay black man who dresses in regal wigs and dangly earrings and uses the pronoun “she.” For many people here, Freedia represents the new New Orleans, the real New Orleans, where what matters most is not what you look like, but how funky you get down when the music turns up. We asked her to share five favorite places in New Orleans.
“Morrow’s is a new spot in New Orleans, run by a young black entrepreneur who used to be a club promoter. His mom is the chef. It’s another place with authentic cuisine, with a menu really off the chain. My favorite is their crawfish pasta. It comes with fried fish on top and garlic bread — scrumptious!”
2438 St. Claude Avenue; morrowsnola.com
2. Neyow’s Creole Cafe
“Neyow’s has got real good soul food. It’s a black-owned business I support quite a bit. If people want to come to New Orleans and taste authentic New Orleans food, it is the place to go. It’s just really great food and reasonably priced. My favorite dish is the red beans and rice and fried chicken. Oh, the red beans are so creamy! And the cornbread is so buttery and fluffy! Oh, and they have some bomb chargrilled oysters, too!”
3332 Bienville Street; neyowscreole.com
3. Republic NOLA
“We started a bounce night at Republic six or seven years ago, and it is just an amazing feeling to have a concert there. It’s a great venue. If you’re in New Orleans and they are having something going on, you should definitely check them out. If it’s bounce night you want to come as comfortable as possible: loose clothes, booty shorts — come ready to party. It’s a mixed crowd most definitely, it’s very diverse, and on some of the nights people get all done up with their heels and their red-bottomed shoes.”
828 South Peters Street; republicnola.com
4. Cafe Du Monde
“It’s got the best beignets in the city. When people come to town, they ask where to get those beignets everyone has been talking about. Well, that’s where. And it’s open 24 hours, so if I get a craving at 2 or 3 in the morning, I can get a couple beignets and some chocolate milk and I got a nice little treat. But I usually try to wear a white shirt when I eat them because I put on extra powdered sugar.”
800 Decatur Street; cafedumonde.com
5. Manchu Food Store
“Manchu’s is a famous spot in New Orleans. It’s the only purple building on Claiborne Avenue. It is known for its fried chicken. I don’t know what those people do to that fried chicken, but they got all of New Orleans hooked on it. When I have my parties I get 300 pieces and people eat it all up in five minutes, I swear. And they serve it so fast! You can go in there and in the next two minutes you have your plate. It comes out so fast, you’re like what those people doing back there? That chicken don’t have a chance back there, girl, no it don’t!”
1413 North Claiborne Avenue; manchuchicken.com
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