December 29, 2009
Surviving NYE in NYC
Every year I am amazed at the relentless crowds that travel from far and wide to stand in frigid cold behind steel barricades, surrounded by strangers and NYPD, wait several hours in boredom, and finally watch a ball the size of a sprinkle drop about 1/16th of an inch. Some of them even do this sober.
I have done the Times Square thing once, which is enough for anyone. I have spent several other New Year's Eves in this city, and have learned several valuable lessons. If you plan to ring in 2010 in New York City, I highly recommend you learn from my mistakes and heed the tips below.
Tips for Everyone:
1) Pregame. No matter where you're headed or where you're starting. It will make the rest of the night a lot more interesting and a little less chilly.
2) Get to your destination early. Peak arrival times at clubs on NYE is usually between 9-10pm, and this is when the Times Square crowd starts to really grow (more on this later). Get there early and get comfortable because...
3) Be prepared for travel hassles. Train, subway, car, taxi... they are all over-crowded and harder to come by. Don't expect to sit on a train of any sort on NYE, except maybe in Queens.
If you're going to a club/bar:
1) If you prepaid for a ticket (often the case), including so many hours of an open bar, definitely get there even earlier than you think you need to. For instance, if you bought a $100 ticket to a place that has open bar 7-11, get there at 7. Or even before. Sounds ridiculous, but the bar will be harder to access as each hour passes. Get your money's worth by arriving early. Another benefit - you might even score a table or a cluster of chairs to hold your stuff and/or give your feet a rest.
2) Dress up. This might be specified in the ticket, or could depend on the venue, but it's always better to look your best when headed out on the town. More on this later.
3) If you're feeling saucy, here's a trick to ensure your party gets drinks easily all night: chip in money to tip the bartender ($10 each is nice, $20 is even better), and tip him/her at the beginning of the night. Thank them for working and if you can, introduce your group. This transaction does two things: gives the bartender a recognizable group of faces, and incentive to feed those faces drinks before the thousand other faces in front of them. I also recommend you continue to tip about $1 per drink, just to keep the guy coming. Approach the same area of the bar and try to wait for your guy to keep some consistency. Hey, this town is competitive.
4) Unless invited, don't get up on the stage with the band. Security doesn't like that. I'm just sayin'.
5) If you see the place is getting crazy-crowded and you're waiting half an hour for drinks, do yourself a favor and double-fist each time you go to the bar. Fewer trips means more fun dancing and toasting with your friends.
If you have temporarily have Gone Mad and are venturing to Times Square:
1) Manage your expectations. This will almost definitely be underwhelming, no matter where you come from.
2) Dress warmly. I cannot emphasize this enough. You get cold very quickly while standing still for hours on end, and in that crowd, no one can tell if you look cute or not anyway.
3) Prepare for all your stuff to be examined by police. I have seen them confiscate alcohol and fireworks, so anything beyond that will definitely be taken.
4) Get there as early as you can stand it. People will be in the heart of Times Square at noon, I kid you not. My friends and I arrived at 8pm, and stood 13 blocks away from the ball. And squeezed our way that close.
5) Guard your purse, and don't keep anything valuable in your pockets. Pickpocketing is rare in NYC, except in Times Square on New Years Eve. Then it goes from rare to rampant.
6) Bring food. You will get antsy and hungry, and if you leave your barricaded area, you won't be let back in.
7) Oh yeah, they herd you into barricades guarded by NYPD, and no, you can't get back to the same spot if you leave.
8) Oh and also, even though they control the crowds within barricades, people will still push and stick their heads in front of you, as if that will improve their view at all.
9) You know what, just don't do it.
If you're going to a house party - anywhere!
1) Even if it wasn't requested, bring food and/or drink. All well-bred people know to never arrive to a party empty-handed. Booze is always welcome, as is food that doesn't hassle the host. Canapes, prosciutto-wrapped melon, cheese platters, homemade guacamole and chips and interesting candies or fudge are all great options and don't require use of the oven.
2) Have a designated driver and make it someone you trust. In fact, crashing at the party location is ideal, because even if your DD isn't drunk on the road, there will be others who are, and it's proven that New Years Eve is one of the most dangerous nights to drive anywhere.
3) Dress nicely. Maybe it's not the roof of the W hotel, but dignify the party with at least jeans and a cute top, or a dress with boots. Wearing sweatpants (and seeing people in them) does not make one feel festive.
4) Bring an ipod or some CDs to contribute tunes, and keep 'em coming. Also, a deck of cards or a board game are great if it's a small get-together and conversation runs dry.
Of course, your biggest priority on New Years Eve is to stay safe while having a phenomenal time. Please don't take any of my suggestions like getting to the bar early and buying yourself two drinks at a time to mean that you should binge-drink yourself stupid. Buying two drinks at once doesn't mean you have to drink them in half the time. Spread out the booze and squeeze in some water every so often. And no, the ice in your Ketel/rocks doesn't count. You should never drink to the point of losing control of your own actions. This is both unsafe and supremely annoying to your friends who now have to babysit you. Don't be That Sloppy Girl that ruins everyone's good time and gets kicked out of the bar!
Next up: what to wear out on NYE so the Waterford ball doesn't upstage you.