Ambition Squared: New Orleans

As David and I work on our Ambition Squared projects, and discover new ones, I’ll be giving you little updates here. Hopefully this will help continue the conversation about how we form the marriages we need to sustain ourselves. So here is what I hope is the first update of many.
A few weeks ago we went to New Orleans as Part II of plan traveltraveltravel (the honeymoon was Part I, maybe I’ll tell you a little about that one day). Because, you know, we figure travel is a habit that we should get into before we are hauling wee ones around the world.

We were in New Orleans for a wedding of an old friend and we stayed a few days, just for us. New Orleans was different than any place I’d ever been, joyful and sad all at once. It drew me in, and made me want to come back, to become a regular at a cafe on Magazine Street, get to know the people, acquire a house with a porch. But what knocked me on my heels in New Orleans was the music. Our first full day in the city we were walking down a street in the French Quarter and an jazz band was playing in the middle of the street. They were a bunch of scruffy urbanites about our age, playing brass, dancing, and singing.It seemed like the most normal thing in the world, them making that music in the street, like it was as easy as breathing. I’ve found that every time I travel somewhere new, there is a moment when suddenly I see something I’ve never seen before, quite, and my perspective of the world changes a tiny bit. In New Orleans, this was that moment. I grew up around lots of music and dance (I dance, I don’t play anything) but I’d never seen music integrated into a city quite like that. I’d never been to a city where music seemed like it’s beating heart.

So there I was with my new husband in the French Quarter listening to jazz and suddenly pondering learning the Lindy Hop. There are *many* imperfect parts of my life right now, and many stressful, anxious moments, but there are also moments like that. Moments where you step back and think, I don’t know how I got this so right, but here we are.

I wanted to track down that nameless jazz band for you, that jazz band who’s CD I did not buy (stupid, stupid, stupid), but I figured it would be impossible. But one google search later, I found it: The Loose Marbles (Or Little Big Horns. We’re not quite sure) with Meschiya Lake. The band that put ‘learn the Lindy Hop*’ on David’s and my to do list:
So thank you Meschiya, thank you Loose Marbles, and thank you New Orleans. We’ll be back.

I’m aware that they are not doing the Lindy Hop in this video. But I liked it. So there.
Pictures are by me, shot on our new 35mm Holga

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  • Anonymous

    I live in the Bay Area and do a good amount of lindy hop and there are lots of places to learn. If you're looking for a dance venue with live music and a bar, Verdi club on Tuesday nights has pretty good beginner classes and is a fun scene: On Thursday nights, 920 Special has had a pretty happening beginner class and also draws out a lot of good dancers with DJed music (and no bar in the venue): Both are weekly venues with beginner and intermediate class series every month.

  • I totally agree about New Orleans… it is a magical place like no other. The Loose Marbles are actually a pretty big group and it is generally only a portion of them that you see. We also saw them performing on the street and then again in a little German Bar on Burbon Street. Each time they had the same "look" (the scruffy urbanites as you called them) but a different cast of characters… the constant is always the amazing music!! In addition, I think some of the musicians also play in other local bands, as we saw the piano player and someone else in a small jazz trio playing at a Cafe' later in our time there!

    We were there last February and as soon as we got home we were plotting when we'll be back. It is a place we found ourselves feeling strangely at home and at peace, despite it being only our first visit. Some people do Vegas every year, I think we could easily do New Orleans.

  • sam

    I am glad you two are taking advantage of opportunities to travel. We also want to have kids someday. Knowing that, we plan to get in the habit of traveling every opportunity we get. We realize:
    1 – travel will be harder once we have kids, we might have less opportunities
    2 – even so, we want to be able to travel with our kids whenever possible. we figure having lots of travel experience should help that endeavor!

    PS – Loose Marbles = awesome. I have now added New Orleans to my list of places to visit :)

  • love the holga shots – more, more!

  • b and i started to learn lindyhop three months ago and we love it!!! it is so much fun. i've wanted to learn since i was fifteen and used the reception as my impetus to finally get me some lessons. i love it so much that i want to continue taking lessons, even though our wedding weekend just passed. and we would like to find a club that caters to a swing crowd so we can dance socially. :)

  • LPC

    I love New Orleans. I haven't been since Katrina. The place was haunted ten years ago, I can only imagine now the layers of feeling and meaning.

  • nice holga work Meg! I've got one that uses 120 film – I'd heard the 35mm version lost some of the effect of the medium format film – so not true apparently! I would never have guessed it was 35mm.. and you've got the advantage of not paying a zillion dollars to get it developed. SIGH.

    New Orleans is definitely on my list – spent about 24 hours there not too long after Katrina, have been wanting to go back. good luck on the Lindy Hop!

  • OMG Meg, if you and David want to learn lindy hop, I might just start dancing again! I'm PM you about it. As far as the band goes, you probably saw Little Big Horns; Loose Marbles relocated to NYC, though I'm sure a few of the musicians are interchangable.

  • PS, that couple is dancing lindy,with a bluesy flair to it. That's actually my buddy, Chance!

    What a small freakin' world this is!

  • Let us Lindy when next you're in NYC.

  • Wasabi

    Abition squared- I love it! Our take on ambition squared is less about traveling, more about living in new places. Our first move was to New Orleans where we did get a place with a porch and have been enjoying the music, culture, and being a part of the recovery for 3 yrs. Next up- living in the mountains and ski adventures!

  • Meg

    @Lauren There is no more. Holga is magic, but tricky. We had a lot of blank film, and some perfict pictures. Weird.

    @LPC Funny, I had written something about New Orleans being haunted, but I worried it wasn't my place to talk about it. I lived 6 blocks from the pit after 9/11 (which is another story for another time) but even 4 years post Katrina, New Orleans has some of the same bone deep sadness that I know so well. And part of it seems new, but part of it seems very very old. Haunted is a good word. Which is strange for a place that seems like it's all about partying.

  • LPC

    Which of course brings to mind images of ghosts, dancing, dancing, dancing, with Hurricanes in hand. I felt their presence so strongly that I had a hard time seeing what was in front of my mind. If you, the practical, felt them too, surely they are there.

  • Next time you are in new orleans, you should check out Frenchman street, Even better if you can find a time with the New Orleans Jazz Vipers are playing.

    p.s. love the site.

  • no no, i mean take more! i think we need, say, apartment pictures. or SF pictures.

  • OMG it's like you're hiding somewhere in my own soul! I've been lindy hopping/charlestoning/balboa-ing/etc for like, 6 years now and I LOVE IT. I've met so many amazing people dancing, and most of my dearest friends in the whole world are lindy hoppers. I say GO FOR IT!!!

  • Meghan

    Ambition squared is such a better way of looking at a partnership where you don't become one but 2 with superpowers! If only it applied to laundry.

  • I LOVE New Orleans! My family and I visited there shortly after I got engaged. We took a photo under that mint julep sign you posted too! Here's a link to my post about our trip to the Big Easy –

    I really enjoy your blog!

  • I’ve been reading this blog for months and always click on the links going backwards so as to soak in any more of this practical information. I stumbled on this one today though it is over a year old I wanted to share what I know. I’m planning a wedding and a marriage in NOLA. I was forced out during Katrina but was born and raised in NOLA and no matter where I am or live, New Orleans is home. Katrina was one of the worst and best things I ever experienced. I moved to Delaware and missed the music rising from the cracks and potholes of the city. I met my (French) fiancé in Delaware and we now live in Paris, France where we are planning our other wedding. Your blog helps me keep my head in the clouds but my feet on the ground when it comes to our weddings and marriage.

  • Krystal

    You should definitely learn to Lindy, swing dancing opened my eyes to a whole new world of great music and friendly people. And it’s quite a workout!