The New Year is upon us. I hope 2015 brings happiness and health for you and yours. While the eve of the New Year is generally used as an excuse to engage in promiscuous sex and drink in dangerous excess, I needn’t an excuse to indulge such appetites. Though I do celebrate in the traditional fashion, the end of the year is more significant to me as a time for contemplative consideration. A time to codify the knowledge from past errors and triumphs. A time to develop a strategy for applying this information. Regretfully, it is in this spirit that I must relay a battle-hardened truth that is troubling to articulate. New York City may be the worst place on Earth to Auld Lang Syne.
I know what I say is akin to treason. NYC is the pulsing heart of the New Year’s celebration. When people turn on their televisions on the last day of the year, they undoubtedly catch a glimpse of the assembled hoards jockeying for position near the fabled dropped ball. When they count down the year’s final seconds it is usually in sync with Ryan Seacrest, as he shivers down in Times Square. In many ways New York is the New Year celebration, as collectively imagined by most Americans.
None of this changes the fact that spending this night in Gotham is a miserable nightmare.
The first thing most revelers seem forget as they descend upon the city on December 31, is that it is fucking cold out. Even this year, as we’ve enjoyed an exceptionally mild winter, the mercury is expected to take a deep plunge. As pathetic as the fallacy may be, I think the weather is trying to warn us about the wretchedness of the whole affair. While arctic conditions aren’t necessarily a night killer, on New Year’s Eve it’s especially problematic. Alcohol distorts the body’s perception of cold. The crush of the huddled masses further complicates this. The night is generally spent oscillating between drunkenly sweating into a heavy coat, while squeezed between strangers, and hypothermia as the sweat turns to frost.
Though I’m not especially averse to large crowds, the gathering that occurs on this day is enough to make submarine sailors claustrophobic. The streets are flooded with drunken morons of all stripes. Transportation is nearly impossible. Just being outside inspires in me an unhealthy hatred for mankind.
“This is stupid,” I can hear you think as I write this, “only idiotic out-of-towners and pimple faced teenagers clog the streets on New Year’s Eve. Real New Yorkers find a cool venue and celebrate comfortably, and in style.” This, too, is a questionable contention. As someone who has both worked and attended these parties, I can attest to their misery. Wherever you end up, it’s bound to be irresponsibly expensive and uncomfortably crowded. This is usually rationalized by reassuring yourself that this comes with the holiday’s territory and the fact that there’s an open bar.
While my understanding of the psychology behind spending exorbitantly simply because the calendar has reset is limited, I do find it curious. What I can tell you, as someone who has been at the helm of an NYE open bar on several occasions, is that it’s not the deal it’s cracked up to be. Most don’t consider several important factors as they’re blinded by a theoretical endless supply of beverages. First and foremost, you can’t drink as much as you think you can and you probably shouldn’t try.
When paying a couple hundred bucks for unlimited access to alcohol, many insist on getting their money’s worth. Not only is this not advisable because blacking out is rarely cute or fun, it’s nearly impossible. Management has several tricks to guarantee that they get the better of you. They pour cheap, shitty champagne down the throats of customers at every opportunity. They stock the bar with cheap rot gut. I have even witnessed plastic bottles emptied into glass ones during preparations. Even if none of this occurs at your party, the mass of eager patrons crammed against the bar ensures that you will only have the bartender’s attention a handful of times throughout the evening. By the way, you still have to tip — generously, if you want more than one drink. Remember that these are businesses trying to squeeze every drop of currency out of the rubes caught up in the moment; not your friend trying to facilitate a good time.
As an avid devotee of Dionysus, it truly pains me to have to declaim one of the City’s most hallowed traditions, yet the cynic in me cannot remain silent in the face of such absurdity. It’s understandable to want to end your year on a good note, but I refuse to allow this emotion to be exploited. This year, I still intend to drown my discontent in inexpensive scotch and uninhibited sexual intercourse. I’ll just do so from home with the same enthusiasm as any other night.