Vaughn’s has always been on my short list of favorite places to watch a Saints game; it’s a stone’s throw from my house, with a rowdy home crowd equally prepared to cheer when the Saints win or have another round to commiserate after a loss. It’s a neighborhood joint that celebrates its musical heritage, decorated with both beer signs and photographs of New Orleans musicians. Most visitors to New Orleans know it as the music venue in the HBO show Treme. Even before that show, word about this great neighborhood joint being a cool spot to visit had made its way to folks in the know. The wooden floor has plenty of room for dancing, and the long bar readily accommodates the dozens of folks who come for regular, late-night music gigs. During music breaks, weary dancers take a rest on the benches that line the outside walls. When summer showers arrive, you can stay protected under the slightly sagging overhang, the rain making its own kind of music.
You never know exactly what you’re going to get at the AllWays, but you can be sure you will have a good time getting it. Sundays are swing nights, when Lindy Hoppers from across the city come to dance to a rotating set of jazz bands. Thursdays (my favorites) feature Drag Bingo. There’s regular burlesque and the occasional cat circus coming through the doors as well. All find the spotlight on a velvet-curtained stage that leaves plenty of room for folks to groove or at least sway on the dance floor. If you don’t want to dance, you can find a spot at the many high-top tables that line the walls or take a seat at the curving red and black bar, where a friendly staff pours a generous serving of well whiskey for $4. If you are flush, you can try one of their signature cocktails. There’s a Prohibition-era Bee’s Knees for the swing set and a Chartreuse-laced Wig Snatcher for those in drag. The red walls give the room a turn of the century bordello charm and the two(!) disco balls keep everyone in a party mood. Whatever you order and whenever you go, the AllWays is a bright spot on the new, hip, St. Claude strip.