A night to remember
Loving recollections of New Year's Eves past, at home, abroad and in the toilet
Published: December 28, 2011
I hitchhiked to New Orleans, where we had a huge party by the levees. We ended up at this bar called "the John" and played $10 worth of ABBA on the jukebox. Then, while stumbling back to the house, I heard this woman say to my friends, "Make sure he gets home, I wanna see him tomorrow." This was all to the soundtrack of AK rounds. Brutal shit! —Frank Kove, Detroit
My most memorable New Year's was New Year's Eve 2000 in the Gulf of Mexico. I decided in 1999 to avoid the crowds and chaos at the turn of the millennium. So I drove down to Louisiana with four of my best friends. We chartered a boat out to a little deserted island 10 miles off the coast and camped out for the week. We were five out of a total of eight people on the 3-square-mile island in the Gulf of Mexico. It was so gorgeous and so relaxing. Of course, camping out in the winter, it gets dark so early that even after many hours of making a big campfire and a full dinner, having drinks and telling tales, watching the stars and toasting the new millennium, it was still only about 10 p.m. when we gave up and went to bed. Truly an amazing New Year's Eve, one I'll never forget. —Megan Owens, Hazel Park
My most memorable New Year's Eve happened when I was living back in New York. I've always loved New Year's Eve, especially the festive atmosphere, meeting people at their happiest, the free-flowing booze, the midnight hurrah. I felt honored that my acquaintance from art school, a guy who was already a successful animator and cartoonist, invited me along with his friends to this unusual party downtown. It was in the basement of a church, and we got there around 10 p.m. It seemed a little dour for a New Year's Eve bash. Everybody was dressed in black with pancake face makeup and was milling around. I learned then that this was the "goth" New Year's Eve party. Except people weren't partying. There was no bar. I didn't even see anybody drinking. A band took over a performance area and played droning, cabaret-style anthems while only a few of the goth kids watched. I started to get really bummed out, and some of my friends talked of leaving, but it was really too late to hit another party or bar where we were. At 15 minutes to midnight, the band stopped playing and this goth kid took the microphone and announced. "At midnight, we want to observe five minutes of silence." This was too much. Luckily, at three minutes to midnight, one of our group pulled out two magnums of Champagne she had smuggled in. We in our little clique roared with approval, sharing swigs of the bubbly at the stroke of midnight while the goth people stared at us with "who farted?" looks on their faces. —Michael Jackman, Detroit
My favorite New Year's Eve was 1988-89, when my friends and I crashed this rich people's apartment party in Paris, eating their food and foie gras and then racing to get under the Eiffel Tower before midnight. Such good times. —Torya Blanchard, Detroit
I was doing the usual NYE "you get to choose what we do because it's your birthday" thing with my ex, and his choice was often lacking. Finally, we went to Third Street, where I was having a blast dancing and hanging out, when he got extremely pissed at me for said dancing. Fight-fight-fight! Home-home-home. Except for when we got home, I said I had to go to the bathroom, ran out the back door, and drove my happy ass to Ferndale to a fuuuun party. Needless to say, I no longer have to consider that birthday when it comes to New Year's Eve —Allison Gurskey, Grosse Pointe Park
It was New Year's Eve 1973 at the Michigan Palace, with the New York Dolls. Julie and I looked at each other, smiling, as we knew the LSD was coming on. Psychedelic colors sprang from our skin, blending as they twirled in the air, forming new and exciting designs I felt blessed to realize. ... Our mascara feeling heavy upon our eyelids, we stopped to light our cigarettes, and in a nanosecond a concertgoer with some Champagne offered us a wonderful quencher for our thirsty lips. At the exact moment the refreshing mini-waterfall of sparkling bubbles flowed into my mouth, the emcee appeared and cried out, "Detroit! Are you ready to ring in the New Year with the New York Dolls?"
Everyone in attendance stood, cigarettes on lips, hands clapping; a joyous roar filled the air. The Dolls crashed out their first song, the Motor-City hit "Personality Crisis," and it was here that my eyes and ears first zapped into the sight and sound of guitarist Johnny Thunders. Amid a kaleidoscope of colorful outfits, fishnets, and platforms stood Thunders, provocative in leather pants and swastika armband, slamming feverishly on the strings of his guitar. Notes crashed, ocean waves on rocks. His smirk taunting the crowd, he rode a watershed of sound that bounced off the theater walls and ricocheted back to him before evaporating mid-air.
His image reminiscent of a member of a '60s girl group, Thunders rocked and moved with every hit, slide and scale of his guitar. He energetically rattled off "Chatterbox." The time was right, midnight, straight-up, and David opened a bottle of Champagne on stage to toast the New Year. Moments later, another rhythmic attack of "Trash," "Bad Girl" and "Pills" rang out, all to the pleasure of the crowd, as we departed one year and entered the next. This incredible musical performance was New Year's Eve and happening in the now in the Motor City, 1973. Much as privileged time travelers, we thundered on an acid trip that propelled us from one year into the next! —Michele Saint Thomas, Wyandotte
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