This happened back in 2005, and I was reminded of it the other day when we had a “group call” with our friends Kim and Steve. I can’t remember how it came up, but we had a laugh over it.
We met up with them in New Orleans for a week of fun, friendship, fantastic food, and fabulous music (I’m sorry I couldn’t think of a synonym for music that started with an F!). Like most southern coastal cities, New Orleans gets its share of pop-up storms, usually in late afternoon, but then it clears up. It happens to us often when we go to New Smyrna Beach.
Anyway, we had heard that a tropical storm was brewing in the Gulf, and we were trying to keep an eye on that. But we weren’t going to let it spoil our fun, and things didn’t seem to be too bad, so we headed out for some food, then to Fritzel’s European Jazz Club on Bourbon Street, which is always one of our stops. World-class jazz musicians play there, many of whom also play at Preservation Hall. It’s a bit of a different style of jazz, though. At Preservation Hall, they play the kind of jazz that you always think of when it comes to New Orleans. Fritzel’s has a much more European sound to the jazz there—DUH! It’s right there in the name!—and you see a lot of German signs and decor. It makes me think of a German beer hall, if that makes sense. I’m sure music scholars could explain the full differences between the two styles, but I’m not a music scholar, so don’t look at me!
It’s just really fun music, and the talent of the musicians is phenomenal. The bottom line is that if you’re playing on Bourbon Street, you’re GOOD. We enjoy it every time we go. We were having a great time that night with Kim and Steve, too, just diggin’ the music and the talent, talking and laughing. I seem to recall Kim having a Hurricane (the drink), which is kind of funny now that I think about it!
The doors to the clubs in New Orleans usually stay open, and it’s part of the charm of the Quarter. As you walk down Bourbon Street, you can hear the music spilling out into the street, and as you walk along you can go from Cajun/Zydeco to EDM to blues to jazz to straight up rock and roll. It’s a little slice of heaven for any music lover, and it’s part of the reason I fell in love with the city the very first time we went. It can also get pretty hot in these places, so the open doors help bring in the breeze. We were there in July that year, so the cool night air felt wonderful, and it felt even better when the wind picked up a bit.
We continued to enjoy the music and got really caught up in it. At one point, we looked outside and realized it was raining really hard, and that there weren’t a whole lot of people walking around out there, but that’s to be expected when it’s raining hard, right? There were still other people in the club, so we weren’t the only ones hanging out. The music was smokin’, and we were having a blast on Bourbon Street. Yay!
Things eventually wound down, and I can’t recall if we stayed until the band was done, or if we left during one of their breaks. Knowing us, I’m going to say that we probably closed the place down. So we head out to walk back to the hotel—it was only a few blocks, and the blocks in the Quarter are small—and when we got to the doorway, we stopped and went, “Holy shit.” It was just pouring, sheets of rain blowing down Bourbon Street, water running like small rivers in the gutter (since it was Bourbon Street, it wasn’t just water, either, believe me). The street was deserted, and we weren’t going to stand there and wait for a cab to go just a few blocks, so we all looked at each other, said, “Ready?” and we took off at a run.We were all laughing and saying “oh my god oh my god” and at one point, I’m pretty sure I went “AGGGGHHHHH!” as I ran. I have never been out in such a torrential rain before, the winds were powerful, and we were all soaked to the skin in a matter of seconds. Even our shoes were soaked, and took a couple of days to dry out. We made it back to the hotel safely, if completely waterlogged, and it felt good to get out of our soaked clothes and dry off.
The storm blew through that night, and as we walked around the next day, we were surprised to see so much damage. Some of the glass in the gaslights was broken, trees were downed on cars, and at the Moonwalk, there were downed limbs and debris everywhere. We started realizing then that it was a pretty bad storm. It was Tropical Storm Cindy. We joked about being out in a tropical storm.
We enjoyed the rest of our week, and made it out just in time before they closed the airport because of Hurricane Dennis, which was supposed to make landfall that evening.
It wasn’t until a while after we got back that I was reading that they had upgraded TS Cindy to hurricane status. It was a Category 1, the lowest level, but it still packed a punch.And that was the night I ran down Bourbon Street in a hurricane.