Call me crazy and even a contradiction to my love of food, but when it comes to the holiday season, my favorite holiday is undoubtedly New Year’s Eve.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving. I’m a gourmand, and I can eat until the cows come home, and even then, I’d be in the mood for steak. I love Christmas and respect Kwanzaa and Hanukah too, but while part of me loves the familial aspect of those holiday traditions, it’s the commercialism and idolatry of it all that takes away from their otherwise pure intentions.
With New Year’s Eve though, there’s no masking what that day is about. It’s about pure, anarchic, wholesome, yet unadulterated fun! Sure, money is heavily involved in this day’s practices, but it’s clear what the intentions of that spent money are. There are no gifts for the sake of giving gifts. There are no Black Fridays or Cyber Mondays needed to take part in the rudimentary aspects of this holiday. And there’s no need for Mom or Grandma to slave away in the kitchen in an arcane voyage into the annals of time when only cooking and cleaning were expected of the fairer sex.
Instead, New Year’s Eve keeps it message pure and simple: let’s have fun, and make sure everyone gets some! And yes, it is a holiday about sharing—sort of. Nobody wants to spend New Year’s Eve alone, and nobody even really wants to spend it with just one other person. It’s a day for throwing a party of grandiose proportions, but yet it’s devoid of needing grandiose money. Sure, those of us who live in New York City know that in order to have an even moderate New Year’s Eve at a bar, club, lounge, hotel or restaurant, you need to fork over your annual bonus. However, for three-quarters of New Yorkers who probably don’t get bonuses of any discernable value, there is always a friend, friend of a friend, co-worker, colleague or boss that is throwing a party—and you’re invited!
It’s actually quite an amazing phenomenon in New York. In a city full of expensive options to ring in the New Year, everyone seems to know someone that is doing something for New Year’s Eve that won’t cost you more than a bottle of wine or Hennessy. And while I have had great New Year celebrations out on the town, my best New Year’s Eve actually came when I was a penny-pinching sophomore in college.
That night was actually quite ridiculous, as it almost seemed like a night out of “101 Cigarettes” (a must see for any 80’s baby living in New York). It started off with a party on campus, thrown by a person for whom I can’t name due to unbelievable statute of limitations set forth at Columbia University. Needless to say, it was absolutely clownery, and one of the best 2 hours of my life. It was also probably my first entrée into the world outside of my pristine little campus. Because it was New Year’s Eve and 99% of students were back at home, the party that took place on campus, was full of New Yorkers, most of which didn’t go to school with me. I met several memorable faces there, engaged with complete strangers, and had enough reason to go back to that party before the night was over—but I’ll get to that part later.
After the ball dropped, I and my friend, the person who guided me throughout this eventful night, hit up another dorm party of the equal and more “friendly” variety. Eventually we left campus and headed downtown, first to some place in Soho. Mind you, to this point in my college career, I had only hit up the “must sees,” so Soho was a new experience. We wound up in some extravagant loft, the likes of which would have made the characters in “Rent” extremely jealous and wanting of real jobs. If you asked me who lived there, I couldn’t tell you if my life depended on it, but I do know the guy made a lot of money, otherwise, I couldn’t have gorged upon all the food that I did. While there, I met some older lady (everyone there was older than my friend and I), and I actually managed to carry a conversation with her. There was a small room near the back of the apartment, which I briefly ventured into. Needless to say, there was quite a scene in that room, and while I didn’t participate, there are a people I could frame to this day.
From that party, we hit up another destination, somewhere in the Lower East Side. Now, I had not been drinking (I was underage—duh), but I was having so much fun that night, that I really am not 100% sure we were in the Lower East Side. Having said that, whomever’s apartment we wound up at had a very LES feel to his place, and the people there were very LES—if you know what I’m saying. Among the things that happened at that party included a girl getting completely drenched, a fight breaking out between dudes, some lady going around kissing folks like nobody’s business, and a bong getting passed around like nobody’s business.
Nearing the end of the night, we both knew we had to go one more place: back to the dorm party. It was pretty late, probably pressing 4am, and the dorm party was not nearly as active as before. There were a few people up chatting, but I had one reason and one only reason for my return: the fairer sex. She wasn’t there, and my night ended in what can be described as a “premature” fashion, but it was a night to remember nonetheless, and it remains to this day, the most eventful and fun New Year’s Eve of my 26-year existence.
Maybe in looking back at that night with rose-colored glasses, New Year’s Eve is always going to be the preeminent holiday of the season for me. Yet in many ways, I think that night is the embodiment of most people’s New Year’s Eve experiences. Every year, that day approaches, and it either spurs the search for a date or the search for the best open bar. Even if you spend the night in, Dick Clark is always on that TV, and the special programs recapping the year are always a worthwhile tradition.
So if you live in New York, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and that you will have a great Hanukah, Kwanzaa or Christmas too. But like all New Yorkers, make sure you ring in the New Year with a bang. It’s our one excuse to go crazy, get out of work early, to not go to work the next day, and to have a good time just for the sake of having a good time. If nothing else, New Year’s Eve is a great time to get to explore the city, to hit up a party or two, or three or four, and to kiss someone special (or not so special) at midnight. Make the best of it. And if you don’t live in New York, make sure you spend one New Year’s Eve before it’s too late. My best New Year’s Eve ever was in Manhattan, and while I know other cities do it well too, there’s nothing like across the board open bars, holiday spirit and people blowing a ton of money (or what little they have left of it) to turn this city into the best New Year’s Eve spot on Earth.