Bars, Beer, and Bladders: Where to Pee in New Orleans

The crowd inside and outside of Chartres House Cafe during Krewe de Vieux.


Warning: In case you couldn’t tell from the title, this is going to be one of those posts where I’m very open and honest about bodily functions.  So if you don’t like that, I’d suggest you stop reading now.

All still there?  Yeah I thought you would be.  Because you either already read this blog and know that I’m always open and honest, or you found me whilst searching ‘restrooms during Mardi Gras’ and are truly wondering how you are supposed to stand outside and drink for hours without peeing.

The view from our high bar stools was much better than this, but I had to move into the crowd to take a photo.

I wondered the same thing when heading out to enjoy the Krewe de Vieux parade, which I just recently learned is not only the first parade of Carnival season, it is also the only parade that actually goes through the French Quarter, thanks to the fact that the floats are rather small and horse-drawn.  Some people consider it to be ‘not even a real parade’ while others feel it is the only one worth attending.  These people are mostly locals–tourists like me were just excited to get to experience any sort of parade while in New Orleans, particularly so early on in the season.  I originally assumed that Mardi Gras was only one day–or perhaps a series of days leading up to Fat Tuesday itself.  Not so.  Which is how I found myself on the corner of Toulouse and Chartres on February 4th, more than two full weeks before the Tuesday before Lent.

Fortunately, I found myself on that corner with a very smart (local) friend.  We arrived about an hour before the parade passed, though it was already crazy packed.  Those of you who know anything about me will attest to the fact that there’s one thing I hate more than anything else, and that’s crowds.  My own personal version of hell is Times Square on New Year’s Eve.  But I was fine at Krewe de Vieux–because we got ourselves two of the last seats at the actual bar, on the side of the restaurant featuring the most important facet of any bar or restaurant–the restroom.  We were also sort of in front of the giant leaded glass windows looking out over the parade route.  We could not have had a better spot to witness the chaos–safely from our stools.

Knowing I had restroom access, I was free to enjoy my gin and tonic!

But what we also witnessed was a really, really long line for the bar, the owner guarding the door and preventing anyone–including those ordering drinks–from accessing the (one) restroom, and throbbing masses of drunken people outside.  I cannot tell you how happy I was to not be one of the members of said throbbing mass.

I can also tell you that had you been one of the throbbing masses, you would not have been able to pee anywhere.  You most certainly could not have ‘just wandered in’ to a nearby bar, as the entrances were being guarded by bouncers and managers.  See the guy standing in the doorway in the photo at the top of this post?  Yeah–that’s his only job.  At the end of the parade, we walked over to a different bar to sample some tequila (this bar was supposedly known for its many tequila varieties) but were not even permitted to enter, as it was ‘full’.  That’s right–there was a wait for a bar.

This lack of facilities–even when one is willing to pay for it with the cost of a drink–is a serious concern for the small-bladdered like myself, and I’m glad that I am aware of the situation.  In the future, I will either secure for myself 1.  a bar stool or a table, costing me money and part of the view or 1.  a hotel room with a balcony on the parade route, likely costing me even more money, but oh well.  That’s the price you pay for the privilege to pee.

So I have to ask–for those of you who attend parades and other outside drinking-based events–like tailgates and, say, Times Square on New Years Eve–where do you pee?  I’m honestly looking for tips and pointers, as I’d like to be able to attend such events more often. My tiny bladder has held me back for far too long!   

Please note:  all of the photos in this post were taken with my iPhone because I didn’t feel like taking my real camera out with me that night.  Thus the extremely poor photo quality.  Thanks for understanding! 


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