Although this post is a bit delayed, it’s a story I’m suddenly itching to tell.
It was a little after 6 pm on December 31st. The reason I refer to the date rather than the obvious holiday, New Years Eve, is because at that moment, I had no plans to do anything remotely New Years related. To me, it was just another bitter cold New York City evening. Little did I know, in just a few hours, a plan would begin to unfold that would later lead me to stumble home in a drunken stupor well past 3 am. But for now, let’s go back to 6 pm.
I had just spent the day with my brother’s family, bowling (with bumpers) and eating amazing Park Slope Thai food. The reason I had no desire to celebrate that night, was because from what I’d heard, New Years Eve in Manhattan was chaotic, stressful, and a huge waste of money. Mel and I had tossed a few ideas around the night before, but nothing seemed to be worth the 100 dollars we’d have to pay to drink open bar at a sleazy club packed against sleazy guys all night long. Of course I’m generalizing a bit there. Not all clubs are sleazy. 🙂
Anyhow, I was just about to button up my coat and drag myself out of my brother’s cozy apartment and back to my own, when I received a text from a guy friend who I dated briefly during college (and who currently lives in Alabama, of all places).
His text said something like: “In NYC tonight. Got three tickets left to a party at Culture Club. I’ll give them to you for 50 bucks each if you want to come.”
I halted, mid-button, and sat down next to my sisters (half and in-law), who were chatting at the dining room table.
“If an ex boyfriend just offered me three half-off tickets to a New Years Party tonight, should I….”
Before I even finished my sentence, they were nodding their heads incredulously at me, as if I was crazy for even asking.
Cut to 8:30 PM. Mel, her friend Kimmy, and I, were waiting for the Manhattan bound train, ready to get our full fifty dollars worth on a 9 pm-2 am open bar. What we didn’t know at the time, or at least what I didn’t know (Mel will tell you she expected it all along), was that we wouldn’t actually get into Culture Club until half an hour before the ball dropped.
From the second we got off the train at 34th street, it was a madhouse. I knew that we had to pick up our tickets ahead of time at the Pennsylvania Hotel, but I didn’t know that this is literally where everyone going anywhere in Manhattan goes to pick up their New Years tickets as well. When we exited the subway and climbed the stairs up to the street, we found ourselves behind a giant mob of people that appeared to be in line. I wondered what they were waiting for, and felt pretty bad for all of them, when I suddenly realized that every person wrapped around this building was also waiting for the Pennsylvania Hotel ticket desk, two blocks away. I stared at Mel in disbelief as we heard a man shout out, “Damnit, I’ve been waiting here for three hours!”
Three hours? No way. By Midnight, I’d be frost-bitten with only two hours left of open bar. This would not do.
So my incredibly short roommate and her even shorter friend devised a plan to sneak their way into the mob of people who were first in line, waiting by the revolving door that allowed entry into the Hotel. Surprisingly, their plan worked, and they blended in without being caught. I guess being short does have its advantages. Immediately after they were inside, a security guard began yelling at everyone to “Step away from the door! You are not allowed in unless you have been waiting in line for the last three hours!”
I stood by a hot dog cart, within safe distance of an angry guy who was swearing at a couple who had been unsuccessful in their attempt to sneak in front of him.
I turned around and asked the man behind the cart for a bottled water. He handed me one and said, what I thought was, “Free.”
I said, “Free? Wow, thank you!”
He laughed and replied “No……three”, and shoved three fingers in front of my face.
I should’ve known. Nothings free in New York City. In fact, it’s usually at least two dollars overpriced.
A few moments later, Mel and Kim were happily waving our tickets at me, and we were off to Culture Club. The streets were packed, and cops lined every crosswalk. One in particular asked us where we were going, and when we told him, he said “You girls don’t look older than 19! You better give your sisters their IDS back!”
We laughed, humoring him, and then made our way across the street. I stared ahead in horror at the sign that read Culture Club. There was yet another gigantic line formed beneath it. Seriously, how ridiculous is it that you have to wait in line THREE HOURS(not that I personally did) to even get your ticket, and then again to get into the actual club?
After a long freezing hour of waiting in line with people who inspired Kim to say “There is so much judging going on in my head right now”, we finally squeezed our way in and found ourselves…..in yet another line. This one was for coat check.
So, are you starting to get a good feel for New Years Eve in Manhattan yet? Even after all the waiting mentioned above, I still managed to wait in gigantic lines at both the bar and the bathroom.
All complaining aside, the night wasn’t terrible. Because it was open bar, we double-fisted drinks every single time we managed to grab the breast-y bartender’s attention (which wasn’t often). The music was a good mix of 80’s, 90’s and top 40. The club has three levels, two of which are “VIP”. The interesting thing about this, is that the VIP rooms looked exactly the same as the common folk level. How do I know this? Well, because we snuck in several times.
By the end of the night, things had gotten pretty sloppy, and the rowdy gentlemen waiting behind us at the bar were practically shoving their elbows in our backs. One guy was so incredibly hammered, he tried to rest his entire body against Mel’s tiny shoulder. She looked him square in the eye and said “Um, no…”, to which he replied with great wit, “What’s your problem?!”
Finally, at around 2:30 am, we were ready to call it a night. While waiting in line yet again for our coats, I began to feel like a sardine. “Fuck 2013.” I slurred to Mel and Kim, and apparently, also to the guy behind me who then tapped me on the shoulder and whispered:
“That’s a dirty mouth for a pretty girl.”