TWT TEA: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, The Essence Festival In New Orleans

TWT TEA: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, The Essence Festival In New Orleans

July 8th, 2014


As you guys know it was my very first time going to the Essence Music Festival and although I am not the kind to frequent concerts(I am going to see Beyonce though next week) I did want to see what it was all about. When I was invited out and found out it was all inclusive, I jumped at the opportunity! I have never been to New Orleans and wanted to see the city and had heard many great stories about this place!

After visiting, getting back home safely, I have finally got my thoughts together. Quite frankly, I am just going to spit it all out on what I really thought about everything! Here is my disclaimer. My views and opinions are my own and have nothing to do with the pr company, brands and Essence, this is just what I experienced, observed and witnessed while being there, so I don’t hold any of them accountable at all. Y’all know I don’t sugar coat stuff, keep it real and blunt so here goes…..

The Good

Prince Essence Fest 2014

I’ve NEVER seen Prince perform and I want to let you guys know that he put on an AWESOME show! He was so entertaining, great stage presence and he song lots of his hits, I really admire him and his craft! He also still looks handsome as ever!


I met a new friend/cut buddy on my press junket that I bonded with right away named, Nicole Williams! She’s a crazy gal like me, outspoken, full of energy and so funny! She is from New York City and is also a professional makeup artist with a beauty blog called, Style Makers Tv! You guys check her out, she is a doll face!

My gumbo from Little Gem Saloon was EVERYTHING and a bag of chips! If you visit New Orleans check them out, their food was really good!


The VIP Lounge backstage at the Essence Music Fest was on point! Food stations everywhere, cocktails, lots of seating and photo booths, I enjoyed this a lot!


The access to lots of celebrities was pretty cool for interviews/photo opts.

The private dinner parties/events were amazeballs!

I liked watching fitness instructor Body by Debbie work out on stage, she killed it!


The swag bags were really nice! It was full of tech gifts that will come in handy! Thanks to McDonalds, Verizon Wireless, P&G and Ford!


The Bad

When locals make fun and joke about how awful their city is, there is something majorly wrong! Did you guys know that in the inner city they don’t have grocery stores? Most of the poor don’t even have cars etc to get around so they often shop at Family Dollar or other stores like that for their food! No vegetables or fruit? I know this because I had to make a quick dash to one to pick up something and people in the long lines were discussing this. A damn shame!

An off-duty detective told me that it’s still a lot of crime, violence and government officials who are milking the system! Corrupt things are still going on in New Orleans, so much shady practices that I don’t even care to type them but it was pretty eye opening. He even wrote a book about it and fears for his life now!

It was pretty dirty in New Orleans, sorry it was! I don’t know if they dont have the budget to hire people to clean or just do not care but I was not impressed with the upkeep of the city. Bourboun street was full of homeless people, drug dealers, it smelled like urine and garbage was everywhere with NO bathrooms! Yuck!

The customer service is awful! Don’t like your food or have a complaint? They don’t care about you! Customer service in New Orleans is really bad and they move really, really slow! I had to argue with managers a lot about bad service and got the blank stare. NOBODY cares and have a laxy daisy attitude. I have never experienced this type of behavior in my life! I had about 25 people tell me their same horrid stories too and how they were treated throughout the entire trip, sad!

I kept warning them too that I had a huge blog and they could have cared less lol. Welp, now look! I hope they do better, because now you’ve ended up on my blog and not in a good way! Smh!

My friend’s package was sent to the wrong room and they didn’t care that they made a mistake. Didn’t offer to do anything about the mistake either! Then the person who received the wrong package didn’t want to return the items. WTH? Finally upper management did something about it after many complaints but it took them forever. Really?

Every place we went to eat was pretty much short-staffed and they knew it was Essence Festival weekend but again, NOBODY cared and you waited long amounts of time for food, drinks etc. Awful!

Singer Lionel Richie kinda bombed and people left that stadium by the thousands while he was performing. People kept saying his songs were dated and that he should have went on before Charlie Wilson. They said he talked too much and it looked like a Vegas show, people were not feeling him. I felt bad for him, I really did!

The Ugly

My room had roaches in it! I saw them crawling around by the coffee and ice bucket stand. I immediately called down to the front desk and they were like, “oh, ok we will send someone up” but she was another person who didn’t care one bit and seemed unbothered from her tone. At 2:30am in the morning they FINALLY come up and “look” for the bugs. They find one and put it in a plastic bag and says, “Ok, you have German cockroaches…goodnight!” Are you out of your mind? I call back down and they say, “yes he informed us that you had bugs we’ve noted it”. NEVER offered to move me or compensate me! Think twice before staying at the Hilton Riverside!

Didn’t really care for the time spent at the Conference Center during Essence Fest. It was a lot of standing around and just looking at d-list celebrities. It really was not that interactive just folks on stage like, look at me I’m a star, take my pic…ok bye! I also didn’t understand how people stood in long lines for hours just to get a bag with NOTHING in it! I was bored and ready to go after one hour!

Overall I had a nice time and I use that word very “loosely”. When I looked at the locals and the area, it reminded me of slavery days when people were severely depressed and overworked. It kinda sent out a negative vibe to me. I had a chance to talk to a few people and they were pretty upset in how they lost their homes, shady business practices with government officials and how they got ripped off with their land. It’s been over 9 years now and they still seem to be sad and heart broken. When we road around, lots of neighborhoods had started to rebuild but you could tell they ran out of money because it was a lot of unfinished homes and empty lots just sitting there. Still LOTS of homeless people/displaced families sleeping under the bridges in tents.

I’m sorry all this happened to these great people in this historical city but still, I don’t see the hype in why people say that New Orleans is the place to go, especially with the food lol. I thought the food was mediocre and trust me, we visited a lot of popular restaurants. Maybe it’s my tastebuds but not really because I had lots of others say the same! If I was just visiting on my own, NO telling what I would have experienced but luckily I went with a huge media group, so they kinda took care of us but I was thinking the whole time, what if? I hope it turns around for this great city.

I can see great potential in this place but again, I really was NOT impressed at all and left disappointed! Would I return? Not if I had to spend my own money, I’d rather spend it elsewhere. I would go back for business purposes only. From the food, to the hospitality they need to fix it and fix it fast because at the end of the day, tourism is ALL they have now and if they don’t make big changes, this will be a city lost! Till next time! xoxo







  1. Jillian says:

    Hi Tami, great post! One I think should be shared with the masses. Louisiana is my home state and although I love our culture, heritage and great creole cuisine, I would never care to move back home and quite frankly, N.O. scares me with its massive crime. I am surprised to hear of the poor customer service the city gave out especially during Essence fest. Sad….It’s really too bad for city. So much potential for a great tourist destination but it would need a major uhaul to compete.

  2. Bobbie says:

    Not Roaches!!! Lawd….I can’t!!! Great post, Tami and I will keep all this in mind if I visit N.O.

  3. LadyMillicent says:

    Thanks Tami for the detailed and honest post….Just got a very similar New Orleans update from someone who just returned from Essence Fest and I will be making a mental note. Great pics of weekend, you looked fab…as always.

  4. Toi says:

    I have never been to the Essence Festival in NOLA. However, it is one of my favortie cities. I’ve been for Mardi Gras a few times and some other times when it wasn’t so crowded. I can tell you from personal experience, the city cleans up every night during Mardi Gras – in fact, if you’re still loitering while they are cleaning – you might get swept up with the trash on the street.

    Please go back (absolutely not during the Essence Festival) and give it just one more chance. It really is a beautiful city with a rich culture.

    BTW, several of my friends have said that when the Festival moved to Houston the year after Katrina – really was the most organized event they attended.

  5. Leimom says:

    LOL, Tami after a really stressful day at work, you had me crying with laughter. I have to say that I have gone to the festival pre hurricane and it was better that what you wrote, but I can imagine that your experience was this because the city is still suffering.

    LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL…you are too funny at times in yore posts, that is why I visit several times a day.


  6. Ursula says:

    Wow!!! Thank you for this post, I was thinking of going next year but now……Ion know. I will say this, that I have always wanted to visit that city and I will still go and visit and hope things are better. I will keep you posted and thanks for the information of where NOT to stay.

  7. Ursula says:

    Oh yeah

    they reminded me of slavery days when people were depressed and overworked.

    German cockroaches goodnight

    #DEAD LMAO!!!!!!

  8. Hi Tami,

    I was totally looking forward to your event recap and what your experiences were of NOLA. Sadly you and I share some of the very same sentiments. I visited NOLA in 2008 to attend the Essence Fest and the city left me with a great sense of despair. While I have such love and appreciation for the culture(food, music, etc) of the bayou….the city left me with an eerie feeling. I too was looking for grocery stores while there and noticed that there wasn’t an abundance of them like we see elsewhere. I mean there are at least 5 Publix grocery stores in a 5 mile radius here. It just seemed like there wasn’t really a middle class there. Either you were doing really well or you weren’t. And I think the level of crime that takes place is a direct result of this. I also noticed that all of the cemeteries were above ground, I’m thinking due to the city being at very low sea levels. But like you, I really would love to see great things for the people of NOLA. They deserve so much better. It’s a city with metropolitan hopes & dreams but still stuck in the trenches of the deep south. xoxo

  9. Monica says:


    Do not let this post deter you from the great city of NO. I am a NO native and can tell you major events are a horrible time to experience New Orleans. I literally avoid downtown during those times. Sorry about your food experiences. This is new to me, someone not liking the food.

    The low down:

    -New Orleans people do not hang on Bourbon Street. It’s like a mini Vegas. Mostly weird tourist.
    -We have corner stores, not grocery stores.
    -Most New Orleans dishes are made best at people’s homes.(at least my home)
    -The city is still rebuilding. (All the more reason ppl should continue to visit& support)
    -Violence is everywhere. Check Chicago
    -Downtown is beautiful at night.
    -The streets are cleaned every night after major events.
    -You will be gauged with high prices during major events.

    To Do:
    -visit Old Metairie, Midcity, Bayou St. John (charming neighborhoods)
    -Visit city park
    -Christmas in the oaks
    -French quarter festival is awesome
    -Visit Hansens snowballs
    -Ask locals where to eat

    It still may not be to your liking, but give it a try!!!!

  10. admin says:

    Thanks so much for adding this list for the readers, appreciate you! xoxo

  11. Carolyn says:

    This was my first time at the Essence Festival as well and we have the same opinions about the city. We thought it was just us. Especially about the food I was so hyped up about the before going but when I went to several of the restaurants I was not impressed each time I was disappointed. I even asked locals where to eat and all the places they suggested I was not impressed very mediocre food. Enjoyed myself at most of the concerts. The Convention Center was not a great experience, you waited in line to see celebrities and after standing there for almost an hour they would say we are not taking any more people. If I go again I will pass on the Convention Center. Now as far as my hotel stay I had no problems we stayed at two hotels Marriott Courtyard on Iberville and The Saint Autograph Hotel great customer service. Now as far as the city being dirty yes it was extremely dirty and smelled bad. Even they cleaned the streets every night we went out everyday early morning and still seen a lot of trash and horrible smells. I want to give the Essence Festival another chase but I’m not sure. I would not visit NOLA just for vacationing I rather stay in Florida.

  12. Mell says:

    Wow I have been wanting to go to go to New Orleans for years. I was thinking about essence next year. If I go at least I won’t be shocked. Maybe my first trip shouldn’t be during a major festival after all hmm.

    Roaches should never be the norm. My daughter is allergic and they are gross. I would email the hotel via the national website.

    Essence happens every year. They know it’s coming. Prepare

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