Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bed, Tango, New Orleans, The Queen Of The Night, Domino, Ruthie Sommers

We recently had another fabulous Bed and Tango weekend. We have bookings open in September, but the one that I really, really suggest is the weekend of September 18, 19, 20, 21, because on Saturday we are hosting a tango dance party, a milonga, at The Country Club.
The guests we had for the weekend of August 15-18, were Laura and John. Laura is from Baltimore, and John is from Seattle. They are old friends, and decided to meet here in New Orleans to take classes with us, and tool around the city. Laura is a featured actress in our DVD that goes along with our book Gotta Tango.
We pick them up at the airport, and so begins our terrific weekend!
They worked hard at their tango lessons, taking two - three hours of classes everyday.
Our tango dance parlor is so perfect for lessons. The floor is just great, and it's such a pretty room too.

A collection of vintage and antique mirrors are hung low, so the dancers can see their feet. We also have a wonderful collection of posters of old tango sheet music covers.
There's a 100 year old chandelier that came out of our French Quarter home. A ceiling fan had to be sacrificed for beauty, so a vintage table fan helps keep the air moving.
After a few hours of lessons, it's time to take a nap! The guest room has an iron four poster. I combine antique linens with Ralph Lauren stripe sheets. The vintage wicker vanity and round mirror are from Ruby Beets (now in Sag Harbor, New York in the Hamtpons). I purchased it many years ago when I had my little beach house in East Hampton. The owners, Sharonne and Honey are old friends of mine. The Saarinen style stool is an eBay bargain.

Laura is getting ready to go out. We might go out to dinner at Dick and Jenny's which is a wonderful restaurant in our neighborhood. They serve Creole style food prepared in a modern way.
It's Friday night, so after dinner, we thought we'd take them to hear some music. One of our favorites is Kermit Ruffins, but he's not playing tonight.
We head down to Frenchman Street to hear another fave of ours, The Jazz Vipers, who play every Friday night at The Spotted Cat.
The Spotted Cat is a great dive. It's small, and there's always a crowd waiting to get in. There's never a cover charge. You just need to buy a beer or two, and tip the band when they pass the hat. It's very comfy inside, with couches and arm chairs to lounge in. There's always some great art on the walls too.
The Jazz Vipers play standards, and they really swing it. It's all acoustic, which is really a treat.
Believe it or not, there's even a little space where really cool Swing kids come to dance. The man in the hat is a local character, Uncle Lionel, who usually sings a tune or two with the band when he's not snagging a tourist gal for a dance.
If we have any energy left, we can walk around the Marigny where The Spotted Cat is located. This neighborhood is filled with wonderful colorful homes. It's a neighborhood known for artists and bohemians.
Saturday night is our tango party. We do it at The Country Club, a huge center hall house in the Bywater, another great arty neighborhood next to the Marigny.
We clear the tables out of this double parlor, and dance the night away. There's really good restaurant, so some people come early for dinner. We start at 9 and go until 1 AM.
The Country Club has a beach-y theme. They have a huge pool, a full bar, several parlors, one which has a pool table. The decor is flawless: pale yellow walls, pale blue ceilings, sea grass furniture, tropical style ceiling fans, lush plants, terrific window treatments, great lighting fixtures and all the lights are on dimmers. We love having our tango dance parties here.
After a night of tango and cocktails, we head home. We often prepare a late night supper, and sit around the kitchen table talking into the wee hours.

This night, August 16. there was a full moon, and out Cereus plant, The Queen of The Night bloomed! You know they only bloom for a few hours, and often on a full moon night. Many people host parties to celebrate this rare happening. Read more about this traditional pass-along plant HERE

So what a wonderful surprise to see this bloom! And it was a full moon too! It just capped off a perfect evening in a a most magical way. Another queen of the night buries her face in the intoxicating fragrance.
A new day comes along, and after breakfast you might want to stroll down Magazine Street, just two blocks from our front door. There are tons of cute shops, coffee places, and restaurants.
We even have a Starbucks on our corner of Magazine and Washington Avenue. Magazine Street cuts through one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in New Orleans, The Garden District.
As you walk across Magazine on Washington Avenue, you'll find beautiful homes, and a historic old cemetery. Strolling in these beautiful old above ground cemeteries, is very common here, and you have one steps away from the Bed and Tango.

Right across the street from the cemetery, is Commander's Palace. Maybe it's time for lunch, and the 25 cents Martini special. Many a star chef has passed though this kitchen. The food is the best, and lunch is the local's bargain.
After lunch you might want to hop the streetcar on St. Charles Avenue, just steps away from Commanders. You can just ride it from one end to another, and sight see all the spectacular mansions and homes on St. Charles Avenue, which has been called "the most beautiful street in America".
Or maybe you'll ride down to the French Quarter. We're about 25 blocks away. You can enjoy Jackson Square, a beautiful park in front of St. Louis Cathedral, and a hub of activity of weekends.Maybe you'll window shop, and stop in at Hove, a classic perfume shop that has been around for over 50 years. They can mix a custom blend for you.
Back to Washington Avenue, where you can stroll either side of Magazine Street. This house is on our side. One side is The Garden District, and one side is The Irish Channel.
Architecture varies, You have both grand and humble homes. This Creole color scheme is a street or two over from our house.
Shotgun houses are in both neighborhoods.
And of course grand town houses too. Anne Rice grew up in The Garden District, and still owned two homes here when we moved to New Orleans in 2000. When her husband passed away a couple of years ago, sadly, she left New Orleans.
No matter if a house is large or small, humble or grand, each one is beautiful. The architecture and beauty of New Orleans was one of the reasons we decided to live here.
And nestled under the grand live oaks on Washington Avenue is this humble house - it's ours! And it's yours when you come and stay with us. This is the only photo of the exteriror I have on hand, taken last Christmas. Our guests love sitting on the front porch.
Everyone who comes to New Orleans post Katrina is curious about the flooded areas, like the Ninth Ward. If you have time, we can take you there. This is the house that Brad Pitt, Domino Magazine, and Ruthie Sommers all pitched in on. It's in the Holy Cross neighborhood right next door to the Ninth Ward.
It's a "green' house. What cracks me up is that they paint it green inside and out. I guess they want you to really know it's green. Right now it's being used as the office for The Global Green Project.
This is the living room. It just doesn't seem very Ruthie Sommers to me, and really not very Domino either. It looks kind of like a student Ikea deal.
You can visit this house at 409 Andry Street, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday form 11 AM until 4 PM. It's open Saturdays from 10 AM until 1 PM.
There are plans to build an apartment building too, something that is predicted to be ready for occupanacy in 14 months or so.

It's really just another version of the classic shotgun house footprint, using modern architecture, and green products.

So now it's time to take Laura and John to the airport. The weekend went way too fast!

I hope you like my little Bed and Tango story. We would really love for you to come and visit us soon. And don't forget the tango party on September 20! Book that weekend now!


Old House Junkie said...

Val, I needed a little vacation and feel as though you gave me one tonight. Thank you for this post. ohj

Visual Vamp said...

Oh how I wish it was more than a virtual vacation. It would be so nice for you to visit New Orleans for real.

katiedid said...

OMG! I feel like I just had the most wonderful little whirlwind tour/vaykay to New Orleans! Thanks! I lived in Baton Rouge for my first year of design school and would drive to New Orleans every chance I it was so fun to see it again. ;)