The Christmas lights are slowly coming down, the last pages of your day planner are clinging on for dear life and the local liquor stores are running short on champagne. Sounds like New Year’s Eve, and my nominee for the world’s best party holiday. For one, it’s global; so it’s not just you singing “Auld Lang Syne” off-key at midnight, it’s the entire planet. Secondly, it’s guaranteed that every hour for 24 hours someone is throwing back a glass of bubbly, losing their virginity or streaking through the city streets. Lastly, it’s the one holiday where the traditional gift is a clean slate. All the drama you’ve accumulated over the past 12 months is thought of as “so last year.” You’re no longer the 2005 you; you’ve emerged as NEW and IMPROVED 2006 you.
When discussing an evening that has so much history, it’s impossible to envision the future without thinking of its past. Here’s the skinny on how this crazy bash became a worldwide party staple.
About 4,000 years ago, the Babylonians began celebrating the beginning of the year on the first day of spring. To them, this time symbolized rebirth and the promise of a new beginning. They had 10-day festivals like only the Mecca of hedonism could and started a four-century-long tradition of mayhem and debauchery. Fast forward to 153 B.C. The Romans decided to make the beginning of January the start of the year. According to what day they needed Easter to fall on, the Roman Catholics would place the date of New Year’s anywhere from Jan. 1 to the 10th. It wasn’t until 1582, when Dr. Aloysius Liulus proposed the Gregorian calendar, that the world was introduced to the 365-day year and the definite establishment of Jan. 1 as New Year’s Day.
After all these years, the night has not lost its party power. 2006’s New Year’s, like the original, will be synonymous with drunken partying, superstitious and sometimes pagan traditions, and the hope of a new start. With all of its expectations, NYE raises the biggest and most crucial question of your year: Where will you be when the ball drops? Lucky for you, I’ve compiled a list of parties that are sure to quench your holiday thirst whether you’re searching for a big-city celebration or a low-key get-together.
On Christmas, you had to worry about buying a present for the friend who had everything. With New Year’s, you have to think about where to party with the motley crew who wants everything. The problem arises every year: a group of best friends who never decide on New Year’s plans until Dec. 31 because no one can agree on an appropriate party place. Jered’s into music and wants to make sure there’s a live band and DJ wherever we go. Kasey’s more atmosphere; she needs balloon drops, champagne toasts, lots of people. BJ wants to get a hotel room so he can guarantee he has a place to pass out. Jesika is an attention getter; she needs to be someplace where she can be ogled, possibly while on television.
Well, gather your band of misfits and tell them I have the answer to their problems. This New Year’s Eve, a party is coming to the Indianapolis streets that will make all others seem like foreign chess tournaments in comparison. Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce the First Annual New Year’s Eve Rock ’N’ Roll Ball at the downtown Hyatt.
At first glance, it may seem like just another run-of-the-mill celebration, but it is so much more. Here are a few standout characteristics that make this event the it-party of the season and the biggest thing to hit Indy since Peyton Manning.
GET A ROOM: The average club party this NYE will consist of a hired DJ spinning his mix tapes for a crowded dance floor of about 300. That’s acceptable for the common clubgoer, but for the thousands of partiers expected to ring in the new year at the Hyatt, that just won’t cut it. That’s why the sponsors of Rock ’N’ Roll Ball have pulled out all the stops in order to bring, not one, not two, but four stages of entertainers to guarantee that their mega party has a little excitement to entice everyone.
For the rock fanatics, the Carl Storie Band and X-Ray Roger Jimmy will be strumming along in one room. Living Proof is a great cover band that’ll chill you out with their mix of blues and R&B on stage two. To appease those in the need of a laughter fix, comedian Dan Davidson will provide stand-up on stage three, and with their mix of soul and gospel influences, Cook and Belle will have your head spinning with hot country riffs.
If that isn’t enough to send you into sensory overload, there are even more hideaways offered with DJs and even a fantasy casino.
SAY CHEESE: The Rock ’N’ Roll Ball is sponsored by some heavy hitting media companies, and with their backing you can be sure the local paparazzi will be in attendance. Emmis Communications provides the radio personalities who will be relaying the madness on air with live updates and interviews; Fox 59 will be providing live feed so the Hoosiers at home can catch a glimpse of the balloon drop; and the eyes and ears of NUVO will be perusing the scene, getting quotes and pictures for upcoming issues. That’s coverage on air, television and print; there is no way you’re not getting your 15 minutes of fame with this party.
So, practice your smile and perfect your best drunken yell, because if you play your cards right you might just be the midnight highlight broadcast to homes all over the city.
NUMBERS GAME: This super party for this super party day will have to provide some major bells and whistles to live up to its name. Here’s a rundown of the production in numbers: 12 months of planning, four stages, five acts, 25,000 balloons dropped from 20 stories up, 500 bottles of champagne, the entire staff of the Hyatt on call for the evening, millions of dollars spent on crews, card dealers, decorations and your happiness. This is the party of the year. The one you can’t miss. Buy your tickets now and make sure to thank me when you find me in the crowd.
Maybe you grew up going to polo matches, riding private jets and sitting courtside at Pacers’ games. On the other hand, maybe you were born into poverty, worked your butt off through grad school and are now reaping the great benefits of your diligent drive. Either way, you view New Year’s Eve as more than a holiday, but as a status builder.
You wouldn’t be caught dead doing a keg stand at some house party and you have way too much tact to let yourself ring in the new year at some random bar. Why not go where the movers and shakers of Indianapolis are spending their Dec. 31: the National Bank of Indianapolis’ New Year’s Eve Concert.
This holiday concert, hosted by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, has been entertaining blue-bloods for the past two decades. Ana Papakhian, director of communications for the ISO, describes the event as an “alternative, sophisticated night out,” and after reading an invitation it’s hard not to agree with her.
The night will showcase music ranging from the conservative to the contemporary. “It’s a long tradition for orchestras to play waltzes to ring in the new year,” Papakhian explains. The ISO, under the direction of super conductor John Morris Russell, plans to maintain this tradition, performing waltzes and polkas by famed composers Johann Strauss, Leonard Bernstein and Leroy Anderson.
Don’t let the old names scare you out of buying a seat. The ISO has invited the Capital Quartet to play swing music and a medley of Ray Charles’ greatest hits. If you commit to the quality of the evening, I promise you’ll be humming along to more songs than you thought possible.
This show has such a following it has been split into two performances: one at 7 p.m. and another at 10 p.m. Both conclude with an invigorating “Auld Lang Syne” sing-along. Ticketholders from both concerts are invited to the after-bash, held in the Hilbert Circle Theatre lobby. It will include hors d’oeuvres, a bar, dancing and goodie bags to help you remember your first hours of 2006. It will be a great chance to sip some champagne, don your party hat and put in some face time with the other social climbers of the upscale Indy scene.
There are many reasons why you may opt for a house celebration over a massive ring-in. One, you may truly enjoy the company of close friends over the unpredictable possibilities of a night filled with strangers. Two, you may be under 21, ’nuff said. Three, you’re one of those not-so-rare people who love to be in control. New Year’s Eve is the Super Bowl of parties and you can’t wait to pick out hors d’oeuvres, buy party favors and blacklist your enemies. For one magical night you’ll be responsible for everyone’s happiness and nothing could make you happier — except world domination. Well, hold your horses, dictator. There are still some dos and don’ts to discuss before you open your festive doors this Dec. 31. Here’s a checklist to help make your last night of 2005 your most eventful.
• Guest List: The right mix of friends is what makes a party great. Invite the wrong crew and you could be looking at overcrowding, liquor depletion and unexpected drama. Avoid the heinous bickering of the holidays by keeping close tabs on your guest list and their plus ones. Furthermore, don’t be scared to grant an invite to those you think already have plans. Most people don’t finalize their agenda until the day of and with the right word of mouth your shindig could turn into the hotspot of the city, or at least a great place to hook up at 3 a.m.
• Drinks: On NYE, people expect something special to intoxicate them. Yeah, kegs are great and will nourish the masses, but you can make a better statement by concocting a unique party beverage. Some quick Internet surfing can get you the recipe for a Champagne Royal or Mojito. Don’t worry about going broke, though. After you’ve noticed that your friends are nice and hammered, switch to the jungle juice and cheap vodka.
• Entertainment: NYE is a night when everyone is so excited to see their long-lost friends. Lucky for you, that means you don’t have to worry about going all out and springing for a cover band. Most guests will have fun stories and reenactments that will keep the crowd energized and all you have to do is keep the cups full and your iPod shuffling. Make sure the jams can be heard from the kids lighting cigs on your front porch to the couple necking in your basement. You don’t want anyone to be left out.
• Time Keepers: This holiday revolves around the orgasmic occurrence when the clock strikes midnight. It’s imperative that you congregate as many people as you can when the ball drops. I suggest announcing time-checks every hour, storing pre-poured glasses of champagne in a safe place for easy distribution and synchronizing watches with two friends to ensure all guests are where they need to be when the countdown begins.
• Bedtime: NYE has one of the highest drunk accident rates of any day of the year. Don’t let your best buds drive wasted just because you didn’t have enough couches. Encourage partygoers to bring sleeping bags and pillows and make sure to save the hottest guests for your bedroom.
I know your scene. You like a place where you can get a quick shot of Jack and a solid set from your favorite band. You don’t mind if you’re crammed amongst sweaty groupies as long as your hand’s waving and your head’s bobbing. You don’t mind if they sound nothing like the album; you can’t beat a live show. You don’t mind the smell of fresh cigarettes and vintage leather lingering in the air; it builds character. It breeds inspiration. There is nothing I find more spiritual than a rock concert — unified people chanting lyrics, god-like worship of the artist and the euphoric feeling after witnessing the perfect show. It’s like church. It’s like heaven. So, where can you ring in the new year and still get your fix of great performance? Rock disciples looking for a place of worship this holiday are searching no farther than the Why Store show at Music Mill. I suggest you join the congregation.
Over the past year, Indy’s hottest new music arena, Music Mill, has given the city’s rock scene a much-needed adrenaline shot. At 3720 E. 82nd St., the building looks more like a toy factory than an upscale performance venue, but that hasn’t stopped many of Indy’s favorite local bands from plugging in their amps and christening the space as the best new place to be heard. Jeff Zuckerman, rock junkie and talent buyer for the venue, attributes Music Mill’s success to word of mouth, saying, “The bands that took a chance with us early in our existence have clearly been spreading the word within the music industry that Music Mill is their favorite place in town to play a show.”
For its first New Year’s Eve party, the Music Mill fittingly chose Why Store to serenade loyal followers into 2006. The Why Store has been at it for over a decade since their roots sprouted in Muncie in the early ’90s. They’ve spent that time perfecting their sound, rocking everything from juke joints to main stages, and building a fan base more faithful than Pope Benedict XVI. Indy loves these guys. Zuckerman agrees. “For the Why Store, 2005 saw one of the most popular bands in Indiana history reunite for a series of sold-out shows at Music Mill. It seemed fitting to cap off the year celebrating two of Indiana’s finest: the Why Store and Music Mill.”
The venue and band have coordinated a low-cost/high-value party that is sure to please: $25 gets you champagne, appetizers and a seat at a rock show that will make your year.
How can you and your friends commit to just one spot for your New Year’s celebration? A different bar every hour, a different shot every 10 minutes and a different song every time you hit the dance floor — that’s how you want to make your first memories of 2006. While everyone else is spending their last moments of the year surrounded by the same faces, you plan to be different. You plan on dancing on tables, kissing bouncers and then leaving while you’re the life of the party. You plan on changing outfits with every limo ride so none of your holiday pictures come out looking chronological. You plan on being everywhere and nowhere all at once. Your New Year’s resolution: become 2006’s biggest bar hopper. I’m here to help. Here are some pointers on how to get the most out of every bar visit.
WHEELS: You know how important a party night NYE is and you would never ruin a friend’s evening by making them designated driver. Why not pull out the big guns for the craziest crunkday of the year and get a limo. With all the locations you want to hit, you could certainly use the help and you’d be surprised by how affordable limos are after you split the cost amongst friends. It will give you a place to store duffle bags and purses, a place to refresh makeup and deodorant, and a meeting point that all your friends will recognize if they get lost or too drunk. When you really think about it, a limo is like a VIP room on wheels.
SET LIMITS: Whether it’s after an hour or after two glasses of champagne, if you are going to make it to all of your spots, you have to set a time limit and stick to it. So many times a great bar crawl is thwarted when you get caught up in conversation or dancing. Remember, if you planned on staying there all night you wouldn’t have sprung for a driver. Secondly, plan out your route beforehand. Make a map of all the places your different groups of friends will be and try to hit those spots: down to 6 Lounge to sip Mimosas with Ravi, over to Talbott Street to boogie down with Braden and up to Ripple to hang with the big crew. This will save you a lot of headaches and cell phone minutes.
MAKE A SCENE: There’s no point in showing your face at a club where the patrons won’t remember you. You are working with a short window of time so you have to make every second count. Find people who have bought a booth or have bottle service. On NYE, the basic feel of parties is “the more the merrier,” so they’ll probably be more than happy to have another pretty face to converse with. After a few drinks, walk around the bar telling everyone the person next to you is your new best friend, spend 20 minutes taunting the clubbers in the VIP section for being “on the wrong side of the ropes” and end it all with a PG-13 strip tease on the dance floor before grabbing your coat and bolting to the next venue. You’re assured to have the best voicemail messages when you wake up New Year’s Day.
NEW YEAR’S BABIES: This holiday, two big clubs will be hitting the scene and celebrating their first NYE. They are sure to be two of the heaviest hitters Indy nightlife has ever seen. This is how they’re throwing down the big night.
Ice Lounge is charging $25 to enter their new swank spot on New Year’s Eve. The club boasts several floors of elegant clubbing, including a third floor VIP room with 11 beds surrounding a dance floor — very upscale. The bartenders will don tuxes and the waitresses will wear cocktail dresses to help host in the year, and Blackberry Jam will be rocking the stage as you count down to 2006. Contact: 317-951-2174.
Seven Lounge is the newest club to hit Broad Ripple. It opens the day before New Year’s and has had major buzz around it ever since its conception by its very famous owner. Yes, Seven may be your lucky number or the number of dwarfs sleeping with Snow White, but it’s also the basketball number for Jermaine O’Neal of the Indiana Pacers. With O’Neal as a major influence at the bar, you best be assured that their parties are going to put many others to shame — beginning with New Year’s. For more on Seven Lounge, see Steve Hammer’s story in the Music section.
ALL OVER THE CITY: Leading the pack as the best club to hit up this New Year’s is Vapour Lounge on the Northside. The party has a $25 cover but it’s waived if you have dinner at the restaurant that night. So, your best bet is to have a stellar meal at Cibo restaurant downstairs, grab your free ticket and climb the stairs to the dance floor just in time to grab some complimentary champagne. Vapour is providing some killer goodies to make your holiday festivities memorable, including a balloon drop at midnight, a huge light show and a vacation give-away with an estimated value of $1,500. That will make for a good 2006. Tickets: 317-577-9570.
After hobnobbing it up at Vapour, head down to the Vogue in Broad Ripple. The nightclub is throwing a ’20s themed party with guys in tuxes and girls in flapper dresses to maintain the club’s infamously hot aura. After the free hors d’oeuvres, take a spin on the dance floor and don’t neglect the boxes. There’s a prize for the best-dressed couple, so make sure to go dressed to impress and dressed to win some cash. Tickets: 317-239-5151 or ticketmaster.com.
When your feet start killing you, it’s time to hit the road and make your way downtown to Subterra for your first couture martini of the new year. The ultra lounge offers a cozy feel for the clubber on the search for a comedown sanctuary. Chill in one of the bar’s two VIP rooms, watch them ring in the new year in L.A. on one of the bar’s many flat screens or keep the party live on the dance floor. One of the perks that Subterra is offering is a party package that you can customize to your own needs. Contact: 317-472-8700.
While you’re out this New Year’s Eve, be thankful that you made it another year, I’m sure you had some calls. Try to be a better person in 2006 and live like every day is New Year’s Eve. Happy holidays.
While this is not a comprehensive list by any means, here are a handful of other live-music opportunities for your New Year’s Eve festivities. See the music section for more.
NYE with SAY, Original State of Mind and Mardelay @ Birdy’s
NYE with Big James & The Chicago Playboys. Sharon Lewis & The Texas Fire @ Slippery Noodle
NYE party with Tony Phillips Band @ 8 Seconds
NYE party with The Roaring ’20s @ the Vogue NYE with Brando, Gentleman Caller, Pravada and Basic Ultra Lights @ Radio Radio, 9 p.m.
NYE with The Fuglees and SAY @ Locals Only
NYE with Ahtanaram, Burn Down Yesterday, Adoration and The Foster Portrait @ Emerson
NYE Bash @ Rock Lobster NYE with Actuel, The Spontaneous Sound Collective, Shiny Black Shirt, Marcy Hook @ Big Car
NYE with the Why Store @ Music Mill, 8 p.m.
NYE with Cynthia Layne @ Jazz Kitchen NYE with Zang @ John Wayne’s
NYE Masquerade Party @ The Red Room
NYE Bash @ Coaches Tavern
Low Dough NYE @ Moon Dog Tavern