Today I rode my bike down to the Quarter for Vieux-to-Do, three festivals in one–the Creole Tomato Festival, the Louisiana Seafood Festival, and the Cajun Zydeco Festival. Now, if there’s one thing New Orleans is known for, it’s festivals. In fact, we were advised during new faculty orientation at Tulane not to “festival ourselves out of a job.” I laughed at the time, thinking, I must admit, that I was the least likely candidate for such a fate. After all, usually the mythos of a place is just that: mythical. Festivals in New Orleans? Sure, but if you *live* here it must be different, right? Wrong. Festivals here really are fantastic, and today’s was no exception. There isn’t really anything better than a sweaty crowd dancing to live music in the humid, chewy New Orleans air, tossing back lemonade/beer/creole tomato bloody marys. I danced like crazy, courtesy of several men who took it upon themselves to teach this clearly eager pupil a little bit of two step, a little bit of zydeco shuffle. These men can dance, and I think they want young people to know the dances too. There’s a lot of pride tied up in cultural traditions, just like anywhere else. The festivals are not just for show or just for tourists, but they are celebrations of life in this place. I simply cannot think of a better way to celebrate than to dance. I wish words could capture the feel of spinning without caring, of feeling the skirt swish around my legs, of smiling big without hoping–or worrying–that someone is watching. This is, for me, what freedom feels like. Words can’t capture these feelings–you’ll need to get out there and dance yourself. There’s more zydeco at Dos Jefes tonight, just a few blocks from my place. Meet me there?