I've always wanted to see the ball drop in Times Square, but since I avoid pushing, long waits with no restrooms, general insanity, and the high potential of being mugged as a steadfast rule, I had never been. Until now! After eight years of living in NYC, I finally ventured to the center of the NYE universe to attend a party thrown by The Times Square Alliance and Hornitos. Was it worth it?
If you are going to ring in the coming year in Times Square, then this is the way to do it. Take all the money you would spend on NYE parties for the next half decade and go for broke by buying tickets to attend somewhere within the general vicinity of Dick Clark and his posse. No celebrity cameo stacks up to the energy exuded from the masses of optimistic people all congregated together with the unflinching belief that this year things will be different, things will be better. You can feel the desperation and the hope.
The Times Square Alliance event was held at the Hard Rock Cafe, but no one had to push through crowds, hurdle any barricades, or pull a fire arm. Cops were positioned outside the subway near the A train to personally escort guests beyond the stanchions and down an eerily empty 43rd street leading up to Broadway and the venue's entrance.
Once there, my best friend and I remarked how easy it was and waited for the inevitable catch. It didn't come. The crowd was late '20's and over and there was free food that actually tasted good; reaching the open bar was not a blood sport. Not one person was injured when ordering yet another Hornitos Resolution, a yummy tequilafied version of champagne and strawberries.
One lucky couple had their wedding in Times Square and the reception during the party. A cake was rolled out and the bride, groom, and their families took the stage to cut the first piece. NYE countdown and matrimony! The cheesy amount of ritualized happiness was palpable and infectious. When Beyonce's "Single Ladies" began to play, there was nothing women--including myself--could do but approached the raised platform to partake in attempting to catch the bouquet. I didn't catch it, but I did get my cake and ate it too.
About fifteen minutes to midnight, we head outside to a private viewing area that had been marked off in front of the venue. Again, no pushing! The large TV's played the Rockin' New Year's Eve special without sound, making it something no one was really interested in watching (assuming they are not still in love with Jordan Knight), but feel they can't look away from in case they miss the big "10" light up across the screen.
If you make it this far, there is no way you want to miss one second of the countdown.
The ball itself is actually not as exciting as you would think (assuming you think this is the coolest thing ever, like I do). It looks much smaller in real life and it moves really slow. The main "Wow" factor actually came from the confetti. There is a ton of it, and the pieces are giant so they show up on television. It's like being in a rainbow snowstorm or a Michel Gondry movie. Surreal. A lot of the paper had messages written on it with little inspirational notes about the coming year. The first one I picked up just said "Blahhhhhh!!!" so we'll see if this serves as a sign from above.
Fire works were then set off, and those who answered calls from their parents repeated, "Mom, I don't think you actually saw me on TV. Yes, I was wearing a Nivea hat, but everyone was wearing a Nivea hat," and hung up the phone. People began to head back inside leaving a few couples, whose New Year's kiss had turned into their first make-out session of 2011, amongst the piles of colored papers. Those that decided to head home for some privacy missed a performance by Taio Cruz who came to the Hard Rock after his appearance on primetime.
When we left at about 2 a.m., Times Square had almost completely cleared out, save the large trucks coming by to sweep the streets. Getting back to the train was easy, and it was off to yet another party--not even worth discussing since it can't compare. Nothing could possibly come close. All in all: A perfect way to bring in 2011. Hope everyone had such a good time. Happy New Year!