Classing Things Up in New Orleans

Get schooled in Big Easy culture

So long, summer, school bells are ringing. Stop stomping your feet; learning needn’t be boring—especially in New Orleans, where even funerals promise a party. Here, we’ve compiled a Crescent City course curriculum that’s both fun and informative.

What’s Cookin’

Anything food or drink related is a no-brainer in New Orleans. When it comes to cooking and imbibing, there’s a lot to discover—a veritable gumbo of learning opportunities. Joy Wilson, aka Joy the Baker (yes, the famous one), is a local treasure who opens her kitchen/studio/home for hands-on pie and cake-decorating classes that sell out fast. Cattail Cooking chefs Sierra Torres and Grace Treffinger are New Orleans Center for Creative Arts graduates, who conduct classes at their alma mater. September’s syllabus includes Preservation & Canning (Sept. 7), Southern Desserts (Sept. 14) and Outdoor Cooking (Sept. 21). Craft cocktail guru Daniel Victory runs a great bar and a chill cocktail learning program, Drink Lab, where enthusiasts can be schooled on New Orleans classics and mixology 101, or take whiskey- and wine-tasting courses.

Joy the Baker in New Orleans
Joy the Baker’s in-house cooking classes make guests feel right at home. (©Joy the Baker)

Fit for Fun

For a city known for overindulgence, New Orleans offers an inordinate amount of wellness classes. There are free zumba courses every Saturday at City Park and early morning yoga gatherings at the Louisiana State Museum’s Cabildo and in the outdoor sculpture garden at New Orleans Museum of Art, where tai chi is practiced amid its indoor galleries on Monday evenings. New Orleans Jogging Tours lets you work in a local history lesson during your workout, while Move Ya Brass incorporates bounce and hip-hop into its free, twice-weekly sessions at Crescent Park along the riverfront.

Move Ya Brass New Orleans
Twerk it out with Move Ya Brass at Crescent Park. (©Move Ya Brass)

Dance, Dance, Dance

Swing by the Maison on Frenchmen Street Sundays at 10 am for free dance lessons from NOLA Jitterbugs. The popular troupe also offers hands-on how-tos Sunday afternoons and evenings at d.b.a. and the AllWays Lounge; you’ll find them Mondays at the Dragon’s Den and Wednesdays at Rock ’n’ Bowl. Local legend Bella Blue shares the tricks of her trade at the New Orleans School of Burlesque, where you can drop in on Wednesday nights for just $15. Crescent Lotus will bring its burlesque, belly dancing and bounce classes to you, or you can visit its studio on Sunday mornings for 75 minutes of pole-dancing pointers.

Frenchmen Street New Orleans
The NOLA Jitterbugs cutting a rug at d.b.a. (©Zack Smith/

Craft Services

New Orleans is a haven for craftspeople. Every nook and cranny of the city finds fascinating makers with incredible skills who are willing to share their knowledge. Home of the beautiful, quirky beadwork of Betsy Younquist, Myth Gallery is holding a “sip & string, bead & booze” event Sept. 6. Create assemblage necklaces with both contemporary and vintage beads, the same used in Youngquist’s sculptural mosaic work. Weaving artist and upcycle expert Lena Kolb leads loom and needlecraft classes at her sunny New Orleans Weaving Studio, and also sells supplies you can take home to continue the obsession. The Ogden Museum of Southern Art offers more than just exhibits, including Thursday evening “after-hours” concerts and various workshops. Get your inner Monet on Sept. 21 with a class that explores the fundamentals of pastel techniques.

New Orelans Weaving Studio
New Orleans Weaving offers both private and group lessons at its Bywater-based studio. (©New Orleans Weaving Studio)

Raise a Glass

In addition to free daily demos, the New Orleans School of Glassworks and Printmaking Studio conducts “Wine + Design” classes, in which students create their own wine glass or vino-themed artwork while enjoying their favorite vintage. Across the river at Rosetree Glass Studio, artist Mark Rosenbaum leads twice-monthly “Blow Your Own” courses. Sept. 21 and 28 the focus is on tumblers and vases. Or sign up for a “Make & Take” workshop at Lizano’s Glass Haus, where you can fashion your own ornaments, party platters and sugar skulls.

New Orleans School of Glassworks
Playing with fire at the New Orleans School of Glassworks. (©Shawn Fink)