Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer Meagan Drillinger Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer Meagan Drillinger
By Meagan Drillinger

While you were readying to ring in 2015 with champagne and glitter at “da club,” I was playing courtier to the Snow Queen of Fort Green, along with a troupe of trolls, jesters, and fiery ladies of the court…

…what?

Every December 31st, more than most dress to the nines with the highest hopes of shedding the shame of the previous year in an all-night blow-out that rings in a new year full of bright promises of becoming better people. But more often than not you just get way too drunk, fight with your significant other, freeze in your tiny dress, wake up with the worst hangover you have ever had in your life, and swear that you won’t touch booze until next NYE (which you promptly fail at over bloodies at New Year’s Day brunch). Sound familiar? Well, this year I wanted to change all that, so I set out to find the most unusual and non-traditional New Year’s Eve party out there. Fortunately for me, I live in New York, where there exists the world of Gemini & Scorpio.

My quest led me through many lands: down from the highlands of Astoria, through the Burg of William, and finally to the verdant fortress of Fort Green, behind whose stony walls lives the Snow Queen and her court. The guard at the gate – a small, impish fellow with shiny, metallic hair – pranced back and forth in front of the entrance allowing those with “magical tickets” to pass into the Queen’s lair. Should you be deemed noble enough to pass, what you found was…freaking awesome.

Gemini & Scorpio, a dynamic female duo, have been putting on elaborate themed costume parties (and other forms of non-conventional fun) since 2002. Their costume parties are more than just themed dress-up events; they include large-scale live art, circus performances, burlesque, and lots and lots of dancing into the early hours of the mornings. Their New Year’s Eve event, “The Court of the Snow Queen,” was one of their largest bashes to date.

image1 e1420478773719 628x670 Drillinger Does: NYE with the Snow Queen
Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer Meagan Drillinger

I entered into the event space, which had been transformed into a snowy steam punk palace. Blue and red lighting washed over the space while a live band warmed the dance floor into a frenzy of grooving mythical creatures and courtiers. On the fringe of the floor was an elaborate icy throne, where the Queen sat on blankets of faux fur, guarded by cartoonish-crystals, snow angels, and other fuzzy creatures that looked like sea cucumbers designed by Tim Burton. After each music set, the dancing crowd would part to make way for a jester to come entertain her highness. Circus dancers swathed in red twirled multicolored lights while contorting their bodies, aerial acrobats swung from flowing ribbons high over the crowd. The Queen herself even rose from her snowy thrown, towering on her stilts, and toured the dance floor.

Bartenders were turning out cheap drinks for revelers. The signature potion was a tonic of absinthe and champagne (which sounds disgusting, but in reality is beyond disgusting). But for fear of losing my head, I imbibed happily to please the Queen.

image3 e1420478982419 628x837 Drillinger Does: NYE with the Snow Queen
Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer Meagan Drillinger
image4 e1420478995687 628x837 Drillinger Does: NYE with the Snow Queen
Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer Meagan Drillinger

As the clock inched its way toward midnight, a blond snow fairy, dressed all in white with glittering feathers tucked in her curls, cleared the dance floor, bewitching the crowd with every sexy step. As the music blared on, she began to remove elements of her enchanted dress, piece by piece, in artistic burlesque style, the crowd held captive in a trance. My head spinning in an absinthe-induced haze, I stared before me at this all-but naked snow fairy, with nothing but patches of strategically placed glitter to preserve her “modesty.” The court went wild as she ended her act to explosions of powdered snow, freezing us for a moment in a sexy snow globe.

As the last few pieces of fake snow touched down, the spell broke. As quickly as 2014 ended, 2015 began. It was time to start a new party in the new year. The sexy snow witch/fairy/stripper disappeared and the band started up again as couples shook off the past and started dancing to their futures. The Queen’s reign had ended.

image6 628x471 Drillinger Does: NYE with the Snow Queen
Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer Meagan Drillinger
image7 628x471 Drillinger Does: NYE with the Snow Queen
Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer Meagan Drillinger

I made my way back to my subterranean carriage to take me to my humble highlands. A typical New Year’s Eve this was not. My mission was accomplished. I went to bed feeling proud, loving my city and psyched for the new year. But upon waking the next day, head throbbing, a sickness in my stomach, and a seeping, familiar feeling of death and shame, I realized that the Queen had the last laugh. Absinthe and champagne — the Queen’s tonic to remind us that for as much as we may change with each passing year, some things will always stay the same.

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