January 02, 2009

Better Than Staying Home

I was going to stay home for New Year's Eve this year. I'd had enough of high expectations, expensive tickets, no one to kiss at midnight, and no cabs. But then Edith gave me a flyer for NYE at Terrace on the Park, and I exclaimed, "My dream come true!"

I've been stalking that building, the one that looks like a big table in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, for a couple of years, since I first saw it as part of an Open House New York tour. It's another one of the buildings that was erected as part of the '64/'65 World's Fair, originally as the Port Authority Pavilion and a working heliport / observation deck. But since it's been operating as a private banquet hall / event space in modern times and isn't usually open to the public, I couldn't figure out how I would get in to see it first-hand. I've skulked around its perimeter, rattling the big black gate that separates it from the park. I'd even considered calling them up and telling them I was getting married, just so I could get a tour. But thanks to their annual New Year's Eve party, I wouldn't have to...

One of the best things about the building, besides its history, is the grand ballroom level observation deck, which overlooks the rest of the park (including those blinking towers) and the city that looms beyond it. We had a great view of the Unisphere as well as of the new CitiField and a couple of bridges in the distance - Triborough? Whitestone? - that twinkled in the cold, black sky.

One of the best things about the party they threw was the dancing. I was prepared for a hilariously horrible evening, but instead we got a really good live band (as far as wedding bands go), Alive N Kickin', who had a hit in 1970 with the Tommy James-written song "Tighter and Tighter" ("hold onnn, just a little tighter now babayyyy...") which I totally knew and they totally played. But the great thing was, with only two original members from their hit-making days, the band's repertoire wasn't stuck in the 70s or even 80s. Who knew a cheesy cover band could do such great versions of modern hits like "Disturbia," "Sexyback" and "Calabria"?! The dancefloor was jam-packed, and Michelle and I followed suit, competing with middle-aged and older couples for space, including one 50-year-old woman in a white suit who challenged me to a dance-off. She got served.

The music and dancing were so great that nobody paid pigmuch attention to the food, but there was lots of it. The cocktail hour had a full suckling pig (so popular that only the head and some scraps were left by the time I got to it), whole poached salmon, a raw bar, pasta bar, stir fry bar, veal, stromboli, and many more delights that we couldn't possibly fit on our tiny cocktail plates. Even Michelle found vegetarian options to eat, including a phyllo pocket of vegetables during the sit-down dinner which was like a nice, buttery dinner croissant. With open bar that started at 9 and didn't stop before we left, the event was well-worth the $125 ticket price. A lot of money, but we got a lot of party for it, much more than just the opportunity to explore the former heliport! If it had cost any more, though, I would have insisted on roof access.
And of course I had no one but Michelle to kiss at midnight, not even the young Latin waiters and bartenders. Worse yet, when we tried to leave, no cars were available from the car service, and no yellow cabs or even black gypsy cabs to be found anywhere in Corona, so we had to walk through the tundra (Flushing Meadows Corona Park tending to get quite windy) to the 111th St subway station to catch the 7 train into the city.

And of course when we got to SoHo and needed to get to the LES, we still couldn't find a cab, and I got into a physical altercation with some drunk dude who was trying to hail one right in front of me and was invading my personal space.

I ended up staying out until after 4 a.m. but I'm not sure why. I guess I was just worried that I would miss out on something, even though Michelle had already pooped out and went home.

Nothing terribly crazy happened on New Year's Eve, and I didn't meet Prince Charming, but I did meet a gay Japanese self-proclaimed psychic who predicted I would meet Prince Charming in 2011. I'm going to hold him to it.

And thank the Lord I got to get my dance on. It's amazing how hard that is to do in Manhattan.

Happy New Year!

For more photos, click here.

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