Southern Decadence 2023: 5 Things to Know Before You Go
Southern Decadence is New Orleans’s multi-day queer extravaganza of partying, debauchery, joy, and fun that ends with a parade through the city’s French Quarter on the Sunday before Labor Day. The event is more than 50 years old and traces its origins to a group of friends throwing an end-of-summer party. The next year, the group paraded around the French Quarter as their favorite Southern decadent area, setting up the foundation for the yearly parade.
The queerest street party in New Orleans is pretty nonstop beginning the Wednesday before Labor Day. This year’s theme is “Wicked, Wild, & Wet.”
For those interested or who are planning to go, here are five things to know about Southern Decadence.
It’s a party…a days-long party
Southern Decadence goes for days. Literally. This year, organizers are expecting about a quarter of a million people to participate, according to NOLA.com. The main event is the foot parade on Sunday. It starts at 2 p.m. and works its way through the Vieux Carré. There are going to be about 60 parade subgroups, the outlet reports. Those groups include the Big Easy Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the Crescent City Rougaroux gay rugby team.
This year’s grand marshals are drag performers Nicol DuBois and Monica Sinclair Kennedy along with Jimmy Gale, a local queer activist.
And since it’s a party, let’s remember to stay healthy.
The temps are going to be in the high 80s, so remember to keep water handy.
Southern Decadence is also much more sexual than Pride or Mardi Gras, and there will be a ton of information around about protecting your sexual health throughout the events. The NO/AIDS Task Force will have free condoms available at a station near the Bourbon Pub and Parade.
Organizers recommend not carrying a wallet with you when walking the streets. “Take the cash you need and possibly a credit card, along with some sort of identification, and put them in a pocket that no one can slip their hand into. Don't wear expensive jewelry. Basically, don't take anything with you that you would have a hard time replacing if it were lost,” the event’s website states.
Organizers also say not to roam alone if possible and to carry a map with you.
There's a lot to do!
There are a lot of parties.
From the Queen’s Supper Thursday night that benefits the American Cancer Society to block parties at the Phoenix Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, you’ll definitely find something for you.
Just some of the events listed by Gay NOLA include Battle of the Biggest Bulge Contest, a Decadence Welcome Party, Bearracuda, Pride Run & Walk, and much more.
While it is a huge party and New Orleans knows how to party, don’t be that person.
There will be people just trying to go about their routine without having to wander into a bunch of overly inebriated folks urinating on the sidewalks at 8 a.m. on a Saturday. And if you are part of the inebriated bunch, please remember to drink safely too — and take advantage of New Orleans’s incredible food. Pace yourself. You can drink on the streets, but make sure you get a plastic cup when leaving an establishment because glass and cans aren’t allowed on New Orleans streets. Public nudity is also not allowed, so just enjoy the costumes and variety of (clothed) bodies around during Southern Decadence.
It’s Southern Debauchery Decadence, so have fun, but be smart about the next few days.