The Warehouse District, also known as the New Orleans Arts District, has been called the “SoHo of the South,” and every summer the neighborhood hosts White Linen Night to show why it has earned that nickname.
On the first Saturday evening in August, four blocks of Julia Street will be closed to vehicular traffic for a three-hour, New Orleans-style block party. This White Linen Night event is free and open to the public.
Sponsored by Whitney Bank, Whitney White Linen Night will be held this year on Saturday, August 1. In the closed-off 300 to 600 blocks of Julia Street, stages are set up for live entertainment featuring some of New Orleans’ top bands.
In addition, there are conveniently situated kiosks where food and beverages from some of New Orleans’ top restaurants and bars are sold. Complimentary hand-held fans given out by the galleries will help keep you cool on this typically warm summer evening.
During the hours of 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. the art galleries on or adjacent to Julia Street will also open their doors to art aficionados and casual strollers alike.
To see the full list of participating galleries, visit the Art District’s website.
Those who turn out for Whitney White Linen Night are encouraged – but not required – to wear as much white attire as they can, and get into the intended spirit of the event. White linen was chosen both for its breeziness and because traditionally, white linen suits and similar attire are not worn after Labor Day. So this is a great excuse to bust it out for a fun event. For those who don’t have white outfits, any light-colored combination will do, but there is no required dress code for the event.
Immediately following the block party, the nearby Contemporary Arts Center, will host its annual Whitney White Linen Night party with live music, refreshments and more art work on display. There is an admission charge for the event, but it is a fun way to keep the evening going after the block party is over. The CAC party usually ends around midnight.
For more information about Whitney White Linen Night and the post-party call the Contemporary Arts Center at (504) 528-3805 or visit their website at www.cacno.org.
The White Linen Tradition
Centuries ago, when New Orleanians who ventured outdoors in the hot summertime had to get where they were going on foot, on horseback or in open carriages, they devised ways to lessen the effects of the summer heat. One of them was wearing white linen clothing. Men wore white suits and hats to reflect, rather than absorb, the sun’s rays, and women wore white dresses and hats for the same reason. This was done for many years until motorized vehicles with air conditioning systems became the primary means of getting around.
Following the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans, a massive urban renewal initiative began transforming abandoned and neglected warehouses into lofts, condominiums and – especially – art galleries. In the early 1990s, owners of the art galleries, centered primarily on or near Julia Street, brainstormed about ways to attract potential art buyers into the area. They came up with the idea of reviving the old summertime white linen tradition and the first White Linen Night was held in 1994. Its success took off from there and the event has grown steadily in popularity and attendance ever since.