I'm a social type of guy, and as such I constantly like to be out and about, meeting people, schmoozing and getting socially stimulated. So it should come as no surprise that one of the biggest nights of the year for personality types like me is New Year's Eve. Combine the above with an insatiable thirst for travel and you've got a situation in which, over time, I have found myself in constant pursuit of a New Year's Eve trip and celebration farther away or more spectacular or more adventurous or more unforgettable than the last.
When I was just 18 years old and a freshman in college down in North Carolina, I did my first big New Year's Eve trip to the Mecca of all New Year's Eve parties worldwide, New York City's Times Square. Never even having been to New York before, I broke up with the person I was dating then by email (I was a young pup at the time; give me a break!), jumped in the car, drove the eight hours, and arrived in the heart Manhattan by early evening for what also happened to also be the turn of the millennium that year.
I was lucky enough to quickly find a garage that still had parking available, and after forfeiting the following semester's tuition for the overnight space I set off on foot to find the fabled Times Square party. Even arriving early, I didn't get anywhere close to the center of the festivities that night, but I was at least able to get a good spot many blocks back from which I could still watch the ball drop live and party the night away with hundreds of thousands of other revelers from all over the world amid the haze of neon and confetti. That first New Year's Eve experience of my adulthood set the bar pretty high, and although I haven't been able to top it every year, I have certainly been on a multi-year pursuit of bigger and better New Year's Eve parties and celebrations and adventures in the years since that Y2K blowout.
Remembering how I nearly froze my rear end off in Times Square, I spent the next New Year's Eve partying it up on the warm sand of South Beach, Miami. After that came a return to New York City for round two in the Big Apple. But having sworn to myself that I'd never do New Year's Eve in Times Square again (I'd still recommend it to anyone, but once is certainly enough), I rang in the new year this time out on the Manhattan club scene with friends. That turned out to be one of the most enjoyable nights of my life, which was evident when we finally left the last club the next day to find the afternoon sun beating down on us.
Next came my first New Year's Eve spent in the nation's capital, which had just become my new home and would, therefore, be the site of future New Year's Eve celebrations when I couldn't get away for more exotic festivities. And as much as I swore up and down that I would never do New Year's Eve in Times Square again, or even in Manhattan again, since I had already rung in the new year twice in New York at that point, I gladly returned once more to the mayhem of Times Square so that the person I loved could have the opportunity to experience that iconic moment at least once too. So I happily suffered through a third New Year's Eve trip to New York City and a second six-plus hour wait out in the freezing cold for yet another countdown at the center of the New Year's Eve party universe.
After that, domestic New Year's Eve celebrations became old news and I had to start seeking out more adventurous New Year's Eve experiences abroad. One year I found myself in Warsaw for the countdown, which taught me exactly how to execute a coup in Poland -- do it on New Year's Eve. The fireworks in Warsaw were so loud and powerful, with each and every boom reverberating throughout the entire city, that I thought someone could be launching an invasion at that very moment and no one would know it. Instead, everyone would just cheer and drink with each new artillery blast that went off, which would of course be indistinguishable from the real fireworks. Even those little twisted pieces of white paper with gunpowder inside that we used to pop on the pavement as kids growing up in the U.S. had Polish versions that must have been the the size of grenades given the intensity of their bang when they hit the ground.
Another "adventurous" aspect of Polish holiday artillery was that it didn't always function as intended. On several occassions, my friends and I, along with many bystanders, nearly became casualties of the festivities as errant fireworks shot into passing crowds and exploded. I woke up the next afternoon after that wild party with quite the Polish vodka hangover, a ringing in my ears and PTSD from the night before, but we certainly had a blast.
Another foreign New Year's Eve adventure I had in a subsequent year that was much closer to an actual war zone but less war zone-like was in Tel Aviv. After making arrangements to spend New Year's Eve in Israel, I soon realized that the holiday happened to fall on the Sabbath that year, which made me question whether we would even be able to find a New Year's Eve blowout party to attend. But Tel Aviv, being the largely secular and modern city that it is, did not disappoint. We found our way out to a spectacular club party on the scale of anything a major American or European city could deliver, complete with neon lasers and amazing dance anthems in both English and Hebrew. That night also ranked among one of the more chart-topping New Year's Eve experiences thus far.
So after some great domestic parties ringing in the new year and a number of adventurous international countdowns, I'm now in search of new opportunities to raise the bar and feed the continuing addiction to amazing blowout New Year's Eve celebrations. I'll decide last minute where to jet off to this year, but I would love recommendations for fun, fabulous and maybe even some freakishly adventurous future New Year's Eve celebration ideas. The comments are open, and I'm all ears. You can also tweet me on @AIRistocrat.
Cheers, and Happy New Year!