Sunday, January 2, 2011

Surviving the Ball Drop

Mood: Calm

Listening to: Oddly enough, nothing.

For the first time, well, ever, I went out for New Year’s eve. Alone.  Without my husband or my kids. Going along with my not understanding moderation, I went all the way. Times Square, New York City with a bazillion other nutjobs. I have friends who live in the city, so I was invited along to participate in some revelry that included smuggling in vodka laced orange Fanta, paranoia that someone was going to steal something important from me (like said vodka)and standing in what amounted to a cattle pen for 6 hours. It was actually pretty good fun. We met a group of painfully young (at least for my 30 year old friend and I) girls from North Carolina who were fun to talk to. After 6 hours standing up in the cold and not having anywhere to pee, I won’t be doing that again, but I’m really glad I went once. The ball drop always seemed like a very cool place to be when I was watching it go down on TV from the Midwest, but it was decidedly less awesome actually there, which was a little disappointing. I did enjoy my time with my friends though. It is a very rare occasion indeed that I get to spend any length of time by myself without my kids. This is also one of those things that I would be disappointed to not have actually done once if we end up moving out of NY someday. As we’re 30 year olds, we elected to stay home and eat grilled cheese and drink hot tea instead of continuing the party out at a bar somewhere. But this also turned out to be a good thing. We were coherent enough the next day to go out for brunch in the city…which is also something I have never done by myself.  

Here are some tips if you are ever considering joining said revelry in the city.

1. Pee before you go, and then pee again. Then try your best not to drink ANYTHING for as long as possible. Seriously. Depending on how crazy you want to be, you may be standing there anywhere from 6 – 12 hours. You will not be allowed to generally wander around and pee. I actually saw people who left 2 hours before the ball dropped who just couldn’t wait any longer. If you’re a man or just don’t have any sense of privacy, bring a bottle to pee in.

2. Pack snacks or sandwiches, preferably not salty ones that will make you thirsty. See above. You will not be wandering about for food either.

3. If you like beverages of the adult type, at least pretend to be discrete about it. You won’t get in with a wine bottle, or any glass bottle at all for that matter. Same goes for anything blatantly alcoholic. The cops aren't going to test a soda bottle as long as it’s plastic. Empty half and add liquor of choice and you’ll be fine. Just remember about the peeing thing – alcohol mixed with soda fills your bladder too.

4.       For the love of god and everything holy, this is NYC. It’s a safe city, but a city nonetheless. Do not bring anything you cannot replace with minimal cost at a drug store. This means you should be carrying your id and your snacks/drinks. Do not carry an expensive phone, do not wear flashy jewelry, do not keep your wallet in your pocket or in your bag. If you must carry some cash or a credit card, keep it in a zipped pocket on your body where you can see it. Crowds encourage sticky fingers and this is the mother of all crowds. Do not bring a purse.

5.  Plan a little extra time to get where you are going. The police get a little nutty around 6 pm. Certain streets start closing and you’ll be asked to walk up and down blocks to go around road blocks. Lines generally build up at entry points because yes, they check each and every person’s bag and run you by a metal scanner. Every single person. The crowds get a little pushy as the night gets longer and you may find yourself pinned in at an entrance point. Take a breath and try not to push the people in front of you. You’ll get in.

6. Do not play with the police. Do what they ask and cooperate as best you can or you will get your ass kicked.

7.  Don’t bring a book bag or anything larger. I actually saw people get turned away for having a book bag too. I was sad for them for 5 minutes until I realized that had they done a tiny bit of research for this, they would have known better.  Seriously, snacks, drinks, and perhaps a blanket. You don’t need camping gear for this.

8. Make friends with those around you in the pen. Most likely you’ll be surrounded by tourists, but I enjoyed being with the people I was with this year. It passes those hours much more quickly than being with 1 or 2 people who run out of things to say after an hour. If you are lucky to be next to some friendly natives (and most of them really are) feel free to ask for cool pub locations for afterwards. It’s the best way to find some awesome spots for some post penned drinks.

9. Do not bring an air horn. There are always one or two of these assholes, and the native New Yorkers will always be trying to get through the crowd to beat some sense into these guys because it’s so annoying. Don’t be one of them.

10. Kiss someone at midnight. Just do it.

11.  Plan an alternate route in a few directions back to your hotel after it’s done. The police will be moving the crowd in one direction and will not give a crap if your hotel is in the opposite direction. You can’t argue with NYC policemen who are trying to keep order in a crowd that big. They will beat the crap out of you. Their job is to disperse about a million people, not hold your hand back to your hotel. Seriously, get a map and go in the dictated direction until you pass the road blocks then go around the block until you can reach where you are aiming for.

11.  You will not find a taxi on New Year’s eve. It just ain’t happening. The subway is also going to be mobbed and you are best avoiding it if possible. If at all possible, take in the festive atmosphere and just walk back to your hotel or apartment.

12.   Keep your eyes and ears open on the way home. You should not be falling down drunk and by yourself. Again, it’s past midnight in a city, be aware.

So whatever you decided to do this year, be it joining an epic stampede capable crowd in NYC or celebrating at home as we usually do, here’s to a better 2011 than 2010 was. 


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