t’s time for the great gay pilgrimage to New Orleans for Southern Decadence. Handle it like a champ.

By James Parker Sheffield

Like every good Boy Scout, I believe in being prepared. While not every Boy Scout would prepare you not getting arrested at a huge, sweaty gay party, I have no such boundaries. Have fun, enjoy the city, respect the locals, drink lots of water, and understand a few things before you go. These are our Top 10.

1. Drinks To Go
What makes New Orleans party central is the ability to move from place to place with your drink in hand. As long as your beverage is in a plastic cup, you can consume it on sidewalks and in other public areas. Most bars serve drinks in to-go cups, or offer one on the way out. Don’t walk around with glass beer bottles or cocktail glasses.

2. Don’t Pee on the Street
Listen up! This is a fantastic, world-renowned party. Don’t ruin it by having to phone home for bail. Public drinking is legal, but public peeing in streets and alleys is not. Just because you’re outside with a cocktail, doesn’t mean you’re in a bar. If you have to go, find a real restroom. New Orleans police will absolutely arrest you for public urination.

3. People Live Here
It’s true. Regular, everyday people call New Orleans home. They’re able to maintain jobs, raise kids, be sober in the daytime and not flash their body parts at neighbors for a prize. They do all of that in some of the most oppressive heat and humidity imaginable. We’re not 100% sure how it works, but apparently it does.

4. You Aren’t Going to Live Here
It’s easy to get starry-eyed over NOLA, especially amid sights of thousands of shirtless gays loving life. That doesn’t mean you need to make a permanent go of it with that cute bar back from that place you can’t even remember. It’s a great place to visit, but Monday comes for everyone, even in New Orleans.

5. Leave Your Car Behind
Even if you drove, leave the car at your hotel. The city is very walkable with reliable public transit. NOLA streetcars get you most anywhere you want to go, and there are also Pedicabs and horse carriages for reasonable rates.

6. Celebrities Heart NOLA
Lots of entertainers have homes in New Orleans, including Brad & Angelina, Sandy Bullock, Lil Wayne, Nick Cage and Solange. But if you want to spot a celebrity, you’ll have to stray from the party. Gay rapper Frank Ocean grew up there, but they haven’t seen his new album either, so don’t bother asking.

7. Non-Bar Things To Do
If you feel like you want to put your shirt back on, the city has plenty of sightseeing options. Whether you’re into history, architecture, vampires, ghosts or alligators, there are tons of tours for hire.

8. Food is Good… Really Good.
The olives in your glass aren’t your only dinner option! You may not expect it amid salacious partying, but the French Quarter is packed with four-star restaurants. Finding a good meal will take you less time than finding a good date, so have one.

9. Daquiries are King
While Hurricanes and Hand Grenades are drinks of choice on Bourbon Street, NOLA is really a daiquiri city. Daiquiri bars are virtually everywhere, including drive up locations. If you use a drive-through, know that the person behind the wheel still can’t drink and drive. Drivers must keep the lid on their beverages until you get where you’re going.

10. It’s the Heat – and the Humidity
September brings a little milder weather, but it’s still really hot and humid. If you hate the word “moist” or often complain about Georgia humidity, NOLA isn’t the place for you. Dress appropriately and be a good sport about it or