New Year's Eve is the most over-hyped party night of the year — there's an overabundance of glitz, and the questions of what to wear, how much to throw down on a party and who to kiss at the end of the night adds so much expectation. Sometimes the best place — or the safest — is lying on the couch in sweats, watching a romantic comedy and cradling a cup of tea. Whatever you decide, here's a list of parties that sound like a no-frills good time, plus a few personal NYE stories to remind you of the perils and triumphs of venturing out.
ALWAYS REMEMBER: THINGS ARE WORSE IN FLORIDA
It is written in Revelation that when Christ comes back to Earth, "He will lay hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bind him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled." Modern Biblical scholars take this to mean that Christ will send Satan to downtown Orlando for a New Year's Eve block party hosted by Clear Channel and an army of tired young women who came here for the sunshine from places like Boise and woke up 10 years later with underwater mortgages and live-in boyfriends who would all have Grammys if Lou Pearlman had not been framed by those boys he molested.
My kind of party, in other words, and exactly where I spent New Year's Eve 2009. A group of eight of us got drunk in a DoubleTree north of the party, and then we were there in the middle of it all. A member of the Clear Channel street team wearing a plaid skirt with black-and-blonde hair and a tattoo on her left boob sold us tickets. Our gay friend Art, who has a microchip in his arm in case he is ever kidnapped by drug lords, told her that he loved her. "I am alive," I shouted into the night before plunging into an open doorway in search of Jagermeister. English, whose real name is Steve (he is from England), was in one of the bars, and we had a round together. Later I decided to run back to the hotel, because I knew I was going to die and wanted to do it alone. Back in the room, an Indian man was moaning in his sleep. I stole several oranges from the lobby and waited for my soul to leave my body. When it did not, I went outside to smoke cigarettes and a ragged minivan pulled up and two people in orange vests hopped out, followed by Art, who they found wandering by the baseball stadium. Art almost found love on Michigan Ave., but then the cabby just drove him in circles. Pat got ripped off, too, by a rickshaw driver who charged him $40 and dropped him off by a pond. The girls were at a 7-Eleven with a man in an unmarked car who said it was impossible to get from downtown Orlando to uptown Orlando without first paying him $100, so I drove there and got them. It was a good New Year's Eve. —Mike Riggs, associate editor at Reason