Hey y’all! Welcome to Part II of my Essence Fest 2015 weekend shenanigans. If you’ve already checked out Part I, which includes a little intro and my Wednesday-Thursday adventures, keep on reading.
Less sleep, more drinks, and great food…
Friday was the official kick-off of all the Essence Fest events, including the empowerment workshops, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. I had plans to get inspired by Deitrick Haddon, learn about getting my side hustle together by the Queen of Side Hustles, Kandi Burruss, and get some fitness tips from Mr. Hip Hop Abs himself, Shaun T. Too bad none of that happened…
After waking up late because we spent a late night in the French Quarter, we arrived at the convention center around noon and found out that we needed tickets to attend the free empowerment workshops, which they were all out for the day. We were kicking ourselves for not getting there earlier but also ticked off that it wasn’t clear that we would need tickets for the workshops.
So what do you do in New Orleans when there’s nothing else to do? Drink. I was very close to slapped before it was even 5 o’clock. I must say that strolling through the convention center buzzed was probably a lot more fun than it would have been sober. We got silly and made a 30-second video at the State Farm booth (peep the video below) and did the electric slide on the Coca Cola dance floor to some jams by Cameo and other songs that I was too buzzed to remember now. I definitely remember being turnt tho.
Since we learned our lesson from the night before, we made it in decent time to see Kem, India Arie, Charlie Wilson, and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly perform at the Superdome Friday night. Everyone was really good, but Charlie Wilson definitely got the party started. Uncle Charlie showed everybody how it was done. When he performed one of my favorite songs ever, “Outstanding,” my night was complete.
Being the sweets-lover that I am, I could not leave New Orleans without trying a praline so I stopped for one at Magnolia Sugar & Spice Praline Kitchen & Hot Sauce Bar since I could actually see a lady making them at the front of the store. Mine was already wrapped and packaged up, but it still tasted fresh and delightful. It had nothing on my beloved beignets, but it was tasty.
Speaking of tasty, we randomly stumbled on The Rum House, a “Caribbean Taqueria” on Magazine street after the original place we had in mind told us the wait time was an hour and a half. Ain’t nobody had time for that.
I’m forever grateful that we found The Rum House because I was in taco heaven. I ordered the Taco Trifecta, choosing a seared-scallop taco, a chilled shrimp taco, and a steak taco with guacamole. I also chose their smothered greens for my side. Nothing on my plate disappointed. It was definitely my favorite restaurant out of the few that we visited. The frozen Sangria Margarita was lovely as well. All of that with a phenomenal waiter to top it off=good times.
We took a little time to stroll down Magazine Street before heading to the Superdome that evening. We came across a cool vintage store where I picked up a “Do the Right Thing” tank and some parrot earrings. I’m kinda second-guessing the earring purchase now, but we’ll see how I feel after I try them on.
We also stumbled on the most beautiful little bakery that had so many colorful and decadent desserts on display. One of the handsome guys behind the counter let us try some delicious macaroons. I seriously thought about taking some of them home for my cake-decorating, future bakery-owner bestie, MsBijouWho, but the prices made me zip my purse up with the quickness. Yep, even on vacation, I think like a SAHM. Budget. Budget. Budget. Sigh.
Saturday night at the Superdome was amazing, mostly due to the super-entertaining and awesome performance by Ms. Erykah Badu. She is the truth. Everybody was out of their seat by the end of Usher’s set too. He was almost putting people to sleep in the beginning while performing some lesser-known songs and some instrumentals, but by the time he started singing “You Make Me Wanna,” “Nice & Slow,” and songs from his “Confessions” CD, I think everybody was like, “Okaaaaayyyy Ur-sher.” The only thing that was kinda disappointing is he didn’t take his shirt off, but I’ll give him a pass on that one I guess.
Sunday was bittersweet. There was so much that I still didn’t get to do in New Orleans by the time Sunday night rolled around that I was a little sad that the weekend was already over. Not to mention that that was the end of my unlimited girl time. And yet, I was really missing hubby and L-Boogie at home.
I didn’t get to eat as much fried chicken as I could handle at Willie’s Scotch House or really get to explore any of the neighborhoods, but I did get to see more celebs at the convention center on Sunday afternoon than I did in the previous days. I took a picture with journalist, Roland Martin and got a flier signed by Bad Boy R&B group, 112. My bae, Daron, even shook my hand. I could’ve died. Yeah, he shook everybody’s hand, but still…I told him he was my fav and he smiled!!!!!!! OMG!
That night, Floetry killed it at the Superdome, but Mary J. Blige proved that she’s still the Queen of Hip- Hop Soul (check out a video of her singing “Not Gon’ Cry” below). She had everybody on their feet during most of her performance and the crowd literally went nuts when she brought out Method Man while singing “You’re All I Need.” It was the perfect ending to the weekend.
We headed to Bourbon Street after Kendrick Lemar’s performance and although I tried to hang, my feet were killing me and I just couldn’t do it. I’d left my flip flops in the car earlier that day so I was stuck in some comfortable heels that turned into heels from hell by the end of the night. (In fact, my feet were still tingly and sore after returning home because of those dang shoes I had on.) So I got a few souvenirs and about 30 min of sleep before I had to be at the airport Monday morning. And that was the end of my Essence Fest 2015 getaway and reunion with my college besties!
Overall, my first grown woman getaway was a ton of fun. It was a much-needed break to recharge before returning home to my domesticated life as a mommy and wife. While I thoroughly enjoyed having a little flashback to those glorious sisterhood moments that I had in college when I was able to eat, sleep, and turn up with my besties 24/7, I realized that I wouldn’t change a thing about my life at the moment. It’s true that I don’t get a chance to just be a woman and do girly things nearly as much as I’d like to. However, Essence Fest weekend made me realize that even if Usher had taken his shirt off and I was able to try all the fried chicken that New Orleans had to offer, it wouldn’t have compared to hearing my toddler say, “Love you” or being in my husband’s arms.
So long NOLA! Can’t wait until we meet again!