I am only human and therefore I can understand that a boulder-sized disco ball holds appeal proportionate to its impressive size. I cannot abide the ball drop, though. It brings too much chaos. I get that for tourists and possibly also children, it seems an incredible spectacle. Yet in order to witness its 10-second descent, you must stand around for hours, in the cold—and this year, possibly rain—alongside thousands of hangry strangers, while an onslaught of teen pop assails your ears and Ryan Seacrest hovers toothily above your miserable, crumpled form.
Worst of all, this takes place in Times Square, itself a hellmouth, and don't even talk to me about getting to the site's bathroom situation because I'm pretty sure your best bet is to just "wear a bunch of pads."
And yet this unfathomably popular tradition ranks among, even tops the list of, the city's NYE attractions. Fitting, in my opinion.
Really, any item you choose from a "things to do" list could lead you horribly astray tonight. Due to the surge of extra people, cabs become especially scarce and expensive. Other people's festive choices bleed out into our metropolitan landscape, making everything in this city extra scammy for a full 24 hours. A pleasant evening boat ride? Ruined by teeming masses, whose overwhelming presence not only makes things very LOUD, but also, claustrophobic, because the surrounding sea has trapped you like a rat. Or a quiet feast at your favorite restaurant? Sabotaged by the addition of a non-optional prix fixe menu that ratchets up the cost of your meal by 100 percent, when all you really wanted was to rest your face upon a reasonably priced plate of pasta pillows (ravioli).
Because you are tired: You have lived this year, and the one before it, and the one before that. You know the deep, unsleepable exhaustion that comes from the tireless bad news tornado. You do not want to pay $25 just to get into your local dive! You do not want to be glitter-bombed by merry passersby!
You deserve an evening free of fuss on which you can watch this trash sluice of a year slip seamlessly into the next, without having to worry about the drunken tourists you'll find sloshing around the subway later. You want a more curmudgeonly, i.e. better New Year's Eve experience, safe from the squall. So do I. Let's discuss The Plan.
WOOOO! (Scott Lynch / Gothamist)
1. Get out!
It has come to my attention that the vast majority of New Yorkers have fled the city en masse. (Don't worry, the tourists are here in droves.) Good! Get out and stay out, I say, at least until you can be safely assured that the reveling hordes are bed-ridden with hangovers and a shroud of relative quiet has descended upon the boroughs. Personally, I do not like to take chances on this most belligerent of holidays, and have mercifully been able to spend my past three New Yearses out of town: At the dawn of 2016, a friend was kind enough to get married in St. Louis; to ring in 2017, I holed up in a reasonably remote region of Oregon; last year, I went to Westchester, and let me tell you, even that fleeting Metro North ride did the trick. Any port in a storm, my friends.
Whatever length your journey, every mile you can put between your body and Times Square counts: Ultimately, you want to be somewhere that won't require you to take public transit alongside partygoers and their spew, or enlist a cab that was already up-charged for the occasion/endless holiday bottleneck, or pay an exorbitant entry fee to stand in a five-person-deep bar mob for your thimble full of "free" "champagne." All of these things are infuriating, and you know better.
Unfortunately, though, many of you will have to work on and around NYE, and will not be able to do so remotely. All is not lost! Just because your employer has obligated you to be physically present on the most annoying day of the year, SantaCon possibly excepted, does not mean you cannot hide inside as soon as your professional duties are done.
2. Shelter in place
If you find yourself trapped in New York on December 31st, seek out a location where you can comfortably shelter under the table like a small dog hiding from fireworks. (And yes, there will be fireworks, be advised.) Provided you legitimately enjoy spending time with other people, and I would never be so rude as to assume that you do, you and your associates will want to map this out in advance. Someone will have to volunteer as tribute to host the "low-key hang."
Although the Grinchy tone of this post probably suggests otherwise, I like parties. I enjoy attending them, but I especially like to host them, and do you know why? Hosting the party means I get see all my friends—including my best friend, pajamas—without having to sink money or time into wending my way through the inebriated hordes. If you agree, you could always nominate yourself to host, or less charitably, you could con one of your buddies into hosting.
Should you take the latter route, I recommend offering your services for the set up. This makes you look like a good and caring friend, and perhaps you are that, but we both know your real motivation here is staying out of the fracas. Plant somewhere early on in the evening, and miss the shitshow unspooling in the streets. Everybody wins.
But! Non-party options exist, and they are also good: Why not have a movie night with, hell yes, snacks? Or make those pasta pillows yourself goddamnit. You can take a New Year's bath; you can read; you can work on your puzzles; you can put yourself to bed at 10 p.m. and wake up with all this behind you; you can have friends over, or you can not have friends over. The important thing is staying indoors where the mess can't get you.
No!!! (Scott Lynch / Gothamist)
3. You went out why would you do that???
Oh no, your supposed friends forced you out of the house to have "fun"! Or maybe you had previously promised to Do A Thing and now the time is nigh! Or maybe you are simply more optimistic than I am! (In which case, why are you still reading?) Whatever, we can still salvage this.
First and foremost, I would urge you not to think too big. I attended some of those horrible, dump-your-kidney-in-the-bucket-as-price-of-entry, ticketed events in my younger years, and now that I am older and grouchier, must put my foot down. You know the kind of party I'm talking about: The faux-exclusive, free drinks for an hour, "zero fuckery, promise," we'll have a giant vaping head in the lobby bruh, type of event about which I was just emailed.
For example, I once wasted at least $100 (I don't remember the exact amount and I don't care to try) on an overcrowded, outlandishly grating open-bar setup. I mean there were tubas, which I think tells you all you need to know. Also: Due to the Tetris-packed nature of the venue, it was damn near impossible to escape their flatulent bellow for the pre-paid alcohol trough. This is not a "deal," it is a grift. With a few of those NYE experiences behind me, I now have a rule for party holidays: If you must scramble to buy a ticket beforehand, the degree to which the event will suck will be proportionate to the amount you paid.
So, IF you must go outside, make for a bar you trust—your corner bar, your ol' faithful, a place you know will not demand a cover, but will be absent blackout monsters looking to put their faces on your face, ANY FACE, at midnight. All the bars will be crowded! Stick with one you know, and you stand a lesser chance of being let down.
4. Good God did someone just say bottle service??
Abort. I'm sorry but nothing can save you now! It's time for you to disappear quietly into the night, just discreetly leave without saying a word. (Although I would recommend picking out a trusted confidante and letting them know, just so that you don't inadvertently launch a Mass Panic if/when your cohort notices you're gone.) Some would argue that the practice is rude, but let us consult this brief history of the so-called Irish Goodbye: The whole reason this maneuver exists stems from the fact that people can go overboard in hospitality, and when you silently fade into the mist, you absolve your host from the whole SO LONG, FAREWELL, JUST ONE LAST DRINK rigamarole that can often ensue. Also, you avoid getting sucked back in.
Send a follow-up text once you're safely out of the danger zone to let your friends know you're safe, and good luck getting home. That's where I'll be.