A Local's Life: How Two New Orleanians Pump Life Into the Night
May 14 2018

A Local's Life: How Two New Orleanians Pump Life Into the Night

By: Leigh Wright

New Orleans is a city of unabashed playfulness and walking the edge of life, whatever edge that may be for you. Daytime is known as the time when light shines down and illuminates it all. You can see the old beads and bottles lining the gutters. You smell the street cleaner mixing up dirt, grime, and the morning humidity. Daytime is for color and parades and eating and music.

Then again, here in New Orleans, that all happens at night as well.

We look at two local New Orleanians who operate in very different scenes at night. One produces the musical heartbeat that locals and visitors come to experience in this city. The other maintains law and order when revelers take that experience too far. Both contribute massive amounts of energy, pumping life into New Orleans by night.


Evan Oberla, Musician at Heart and in The Allie Porter Band

A Local's Life: How Two New Orleanians Pump Life Into the Night
Photo by Jazmarae Beebe

Are you naturally a night owl, or did you just happen upon a nightly schedule?

“I’ve always been a night owl. There’s a bit of freedom that comes with everything winding down business-wise, so creating and playing music is uninhibited by outside forces. But I also love the morning and the possibilities that come with a new day. I’d say late afternoon is definitely ripe for siesta time if the schedule allows it.”

What is your favorite thing about your life at night?

“The fact that people from all walks of life can congregate and celebrate the day and let loose with some music and dancing. Especially being a musician in New Orleans, you can run into other musician friends on a whim and you never know what that might lead to.”

When you are winding down your day, what do you do?

“If I just played a show, food might be in order, and also listening to the recording of the show that I just played. I like to record most of what I do, just on my phone, at the least. If I’m off work, I like to sit at my piano and mess around or watch a movie until I doze off.”

What time do you normally go to sleep?

“Also depends. If I’m playing, it can be 3 a.m. or later, but it usually varies.”

What do you do during daylight hours?

“I try to practice every day, be it trombone, keys, guitar. I send emails, schedule rehearsals and shows; if it’s warm enough out, I love being outside and, hopefully, exercising. Play and work on new music with friends. The opportunities to jam with awesome musicians abound.”

Where do you go at night? Is it for work or for play?

“Mostly work, but on nights off, I usually hang low or at a neighborhood joint to be among people in a low-intensity environment. Also, I love just going to check out other music like George Porter Jr. Trio at the Maple Leaf on Mondays or Corey Henry’s Funktet at Vaughn’s on Thursdays. Some of my favorite spots to see music are the Maple Leaf, Blue Nile, and Hi-Ho. I’ll pop around Frenchmen, especially if I’m playing a gig.”

What is your favorite place to eat/drink at night?

“On Frenchmen, my go-to is 13 and that chicken pesto wrap. Otherwise, Finn McCool’s is my spot. When I first moved to New Orleans, I lived across the street from it. So, it’s kinda home base on that front.”

What is one of the craziest things you’ve seen during your nightly shift at work?

“Too many to count, really. All sorts of states of human dysfunctionality abound in a small space. [One time], someone was getting too close to the drummer and hollering incoherently, so the drummer just played the drums on this belligerent dude’s bald head. That’s one way to deal with a heckler that made me laugh out loud.”

M.A., Anonymous Female Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office (JPSO) Deputy, a.k.a. Professional Night Owl

A Local's Life: How Two New Orleanians Pump Life Into the Night

Are you naturally a night owl, or did you just happen upon a nightly schedule?

“I have always found it difficult to force myself to go to sleep before midnight. Day shift begins at 5:30 a.m. for early roll call, which means my mornings begin in the ludicrous hour range of 4:00 a.m. I suppose you can say I am typically a night owl in that aspect, as the night shift rotations are far more compatible with my natural sleep schedule.” (Her shift now ends at 5 a.m.)

What is your favorite thing about your life at night?

“I love working while everyone is sleeping. There are certainly pros and cons. However, there is something very soothing about a quiet night—having the city to yourself while a majority of the masses are asleep. The roads are clear of traffic (as my office is a vehicle). There are less crazy people and foolishness that you have to deal with (from a police perspective). And some nights are so quiet that you can truly dedicate some time to yourself to be alone with your thoughts, books, entertainment, and simply reset.”

When you are winding down your day, what do you do?

“I arrive home from work at approximately 5:30 a.m. I take off my uniform, which takes several minutes, as I have a lot of equipment. I put myself out of service on the radio and set it on the charger. I shower, brush my teeth, and lie in bed. If I have had an eventful shift that has my adrenaline high, I [take] over-the-counter sleep aids, like ZzzQuil, to help wind down. At this time, I typically catch up on emails and/or with friends through social media via my cell phone. As mundane as that sounds, it helps tire my eyes to fall asleep more quickly.”

What time do you normally go to sleep?

“I typically go to sleep around 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. after I work an overnight shift. My schedule only changes slightly when I am not working, barring any early morning commitments. On a night that I am off work, I will find myself heading to bed between 3:30 and 4:00 am.”

What do you do during daylight hours?

“I like to stay active and be productive, even as a night owl. When I work overnight, I will go to bed around 6:30 a.m. and wake up between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. I will typically get a workout or training session in before 5:00 p.m., in case I have to work another shift back-to-back. If I am not working overnight, I also have a second job as a Krav Maga instructor, where I teach self-defense. I also love practicing bikram or “hot” yoga at least once a week, Uptown on Oak Street as well.”

Where do you go at night? Is it for work or for play?

“While I am working, the places I am able to frequent are not as plentiful after midnight. There are quite a few of us on shift who will eat at IHOP as a group around 2:00 a.m., when work is typically calm and we can socialize. On a night that I am not working, I love to do various things. I love visiting friends. I love relaxing at home, and I love to go out Uptown and see live music. I value my off-days very much, and I LOVE festival season in the spring (i.e. Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest, and Hangout Fest).”

What is your favorite place to eat/drink at night?

“I just discovered SWEGS Kitchen, which is a new restaurant that provides a healthy option that is quick, like a fast-food place. That is a place I have to eat or get food to go before work, as they close early. However, they provide meal preps, which is a great, healthy option for night workers. When I am not working, I love Oak Street for food, drinks, and music. Oak Wine Bar is one of my favorites, and Maple Leaf is walking distance for great local music. Bayou Wine Garden is also a favorite, with wine on tap and delicious food [french fries] to go with it.”

What is one of the craziest things you’ve seen during your nightly shift at work?

“This is the top question that is asked of me as a police officer. With this job, crazy is what I see every single day. So, it depends on what kind of crazy you wish to hear about. Is it the neighbors calling about a naked man running down the street, stripping off his clothes because the PCP he consumed is making him sweat and he thinks people are chasing him? Or, would you like to hear about the woman who calls monthly about people fighting with lasers in her attic? There is a different type of crazy for each day that I work.

I can tell you this: There is no greater feeling than being able to come together with a group of approximately 13 people and apprehend a suspect who is attempting to flee from a crime that he just committed. The communication and the comradeship are incredible to hear, see, and be a part of. I have had a suspect run into my arms because he was running away from one of my partners. That is when your adrenaline hits an all-time high.” 


Although not the Big Apple, the Big Easy never sleeps. 

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