New Orleans is a swing dance mecca. With some of the absolute best live jazz music in the world available every day of the week, swing dancers flock to New Orleans to enjoy our sights – and sounds. Where do you even begin? Fortunately, we’re here as a sort of jazz music spirit guide. Follow us, you won’t regret it!
Tips and Tricks
- Check the WWOZ Livewire for a helpful listing of where to find your favorite bands. More than that, WWOZ is one of the greatest music stations in The Universe (they’ll say so themselves).
- There’s a good chance you’ll change venues a few times a night. It’s a good idea to bring shoes you’re comfortable walking in as well as dancing in.
- Speaking of venues – most of our dance floors are in bars. If you’re below drinking age you might have a hard time dancing at certain venues. St. Claude Social, The Ace Hotel, and the Maison (before late night) are all ages venues.
- Don’t be shy coordinating with your friends before heading out to see where everyone’s dancing that night.
- Our venues are small and you’ll find yourself dancing on concrete and tiles as often as you dance on wood floors. Share the space and be courteous!
- Not everyone is there to dance. Be respectful of other locals and tourists just interested in listening to the music.
- Respect and support the staff of the establishment you’re visiting and show your support for our great bands with tips and applause!
Now that we’ve got the ground rules set, let our journey begin.
Frenchmen Street has earned the world renowned it deserves. This street has gone through some remarkable changes in the past several years, to the delight (and sometimes frustration) of many locals. Still, Frenchmen Street is a must-see for any music aficionado and you can find dancers there many nights a week enjoying the live music and cozy atmosphere.
The Spotted Cat – 623 Frenchmen Street
A favorite of locals and tourists alike, the number one recommendation you might hear from some people would be The Spotted Cat. Nothing beats dancing a few feet away from some of the best jazz music in the world. Sure the floor isn’t the best, but some nights this place is actual magic. Our recommendations? You can’t miss a Tuesday night with Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns, followed by Smoking Time Jazz Club. Or a Wednesday with Shotgun Jazz Band. But we promise the other 5 days of the week here will rock your socks off.
d.b.a. New Orleans – 618 Frenchmen Street
D.b.a. New Orleans is our first stop on our Frenchmen Tour. Enjoy the wooden floor and relatively more spacious quarters here while you listen to local favorites The Palmetto Bug Stompers, Tuba Skinny, and many others. Friday nights and Sunday early evenings are great times to visit.
Bamboula’s – 516 Frenchmen Street
A relative newcomer to the Frenchmen Street area, Bamboula’s features some of our favorite local talent like Giselle Anguizola. Bamboula’s has live music every night of the week and a tile dance floor in front of the band. For you blues lovers, you’ll be able to find some blues music and dancing a few nights a week too.
The Maison – 508 Frenchmen Street
Apparently “Maison” means “home” in French. And this place is home to some of our favorite bands, including Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses, Shotgun Jazz Band, and Smoking Time Jazz Club. Claim a small piece of the wood floor near the band and enjoy yourself! Saturdays with Smoking Time Jazz Club are a great time.
The Dragon's Den – 435 Esplanade Avenue
Okay, so this one isn’t really on Frenchmen Street per se. But Monday Night Swing at The Dragon’s Den can’t be beat. There’s a community jam if you’re feeling musical, an intro to swing lesson, and a rotating group of bands to scratch your jazz itch.
St. Claude Avenue
Ah, St. Claude Avenue. The new kid on the block. Or maybe the new block on the block? This part of town is blowing up with great bars, restaurants, and shops. And for dancer’s there are plenty of reasons to visit.
The Allways Lounge – 2240 St. Claude Avenue
Sunday nights at the Allways Lounge is an institution at this point. There’s an intro lesson to get you started and a new band every week to have you dancing all night. Plenty of dancers have cut their teeth at the Allways Lounge and started their swing dance journey there. One of the busiest nights for dancing in town – you don’t want to miss this one.
St. Claude Social – 2358 St. Claude Avenue
Held at the Rhythmic Arts Center, the home of yours truly, St. Claude Social is our weekly Thursday night dance. There’s an intro lesson and live music twice a month. One of the places in town run by dancers, for dancers. If you just came to dance, this is your place.
Uptown and Mid City
Live jazz is available all over the city. Beautiful Uptown New Orleans and Mid City have something to offer as well.
The Carver Theater – 2101 Orleans Avenue
A great success story, the Carver Theater in the Historic Treme has been completely renovated. Check out the live music on Wednesdays, featuring some of our favorite jazz bands. An intro lesson is also offered to teach you a few things to get you on your way. The owners are so excited to have dancers visiting and using the space. The building is beautiful too. Check it out!
The Ace Hotel – 600 Carondelet Street
You can ride the streetcar to this beautiful, newly renovated hotel in the Central Business District. The Ace Hotel features live jazz every Sunday afternoon. You might even find yourself in the middle of a dance competition. Amy Johnson and Laura Manning have a lesson for beginners and more advanced dancers. Trust us, there’s no better way to start your Sunday than with some fresh coffee from Stumptown (right in the hotel) or brunch at the attached restaurant Josephine Estelle before starting your dancing adventure for the day.
We could go on and on about where to go and what to do here. In New Orleans, we love visitors. And we love dancers. So if you happen to be both, we think you’ll have a great time. We have set up a handy Resources Page just in case you need a quick reference. If you get a little lost, why not shoot us an email and ask a few questions? There’s nothing we like more than helping people have a good time. Besides – we also know where to eat, what to see, and all sorts of other secrets to this great city.
See you out there!