The Maroon

Follow me to the land of Oz

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Follow me to the land of Oz

Emily Andras

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Of all of the yellow brick roads in the world, Bourbon Street is one of the strangest — but it certainly leads to the wonderful world of Oz.

The club hosts drag queens, light shows, performances and special guest DJs for year-round events that always seem to finish in a night of dancing to fast-paced, remixed music and flashing strobe lights until the small hours of the morning.

Most recently, Oz opened its doors to a wave of visitors and locals alike during the weekend celebration of Southern Decadence. Several staff members took part in the official festival parades, including Adrian Claveria, philosophy senior and assistant to the public relations director of Oz.

“I started working for the PR director at Oz, who is actually a Loyola alumnus, as his assistant when I was a sophomore at Loyola by stroke of luck, honestly,” Claveria said. Claveria was originally asked to work parties hosted at the bar, and his volunteer work later became a full job.

Pageants, events, special guest appearances and parties play a constant role in the night life of Oz. These events make for a great night out, but they also help to make an environment for gay and transgender people in the New Orleans area to come together. Part of that environment, Claveria said, comes from the nature of New Orleans itself.

“For the most part, New Orleans is just accepting of different people in general. Yes, there is a general populace who may look down at more alternative lifestyles, but as a culture the city has always been a hodge-podge of ‘weird’ and ‘colorful’ characters,” Claveria said.

“I think what struck me most about coming to New Orleans was how tolerant and welcoming the people were in contrast to home,” Luke Overton, a study abroad student who spent a semester at Loyola last year, said. “I remember when I was first accepted into Loyola, I made a lot of jokes with my friends that I was going to be stoned for being gay in the South. I didn’t realize until I arrived that New Orleans was unlike anywhere else in America.”

Oz certainly incorporates New Orleans’ unique atmosphere — it stands almost directly in the heart of New Orleans, a few blocks away from Jackson Square.

Blaine Simon, A’13, described coming to the city with his parents in high school as visiting “the gay capital of the South.”

“The first time I saw Oz it was like the gay light at the end of a filthy tunnel,” Simon said.

Thomas Lin, A’13, grew up in New Orleans and, like Simon, he also visits Oz.

“It’s helped me open out of my shell a bit more, especially as a freshman and sophomore, and I’ve also met quite a few interesting characters from there,” Lin said.

Simon agrees. “Just the ease and availability of an active gay community really did aid in my ability to become more outwardly open about my sexual orientation.”

But Simon also said that Oz may not be the best place for people looking to relax.

Overton also pointed out that Oz isn’t necessarily a place to have a quiet drink with friends. “I feel like Oz provides a total sense of escapism. I think Oz provides the feel of a big city club, which some of the other bars don’t really offer. That’s what I like about the gay scene here, though — you can really change the atmosphere of the night by visiting different places.”

Claveria said that Oz is a true dance club like no other in the city.

“If you are the type of person who likes to go out with friends and dance the night away, Oz would definitely be the place to go,” he said.

Lin said that for the person with simpler needs, Oz may be the right fit for them.

“I like Oz the most out of any other places to go out to mostly because I like dancing when I go out, and typically the music there is catchy,” Lin said. “Plus there are a lot of other people there — whether it be old friends or soon-to-be ones.”

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Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola
Follow me to the land of Oz