My husband (then boyfriend) and I went to Minneapolis for New Year's Eve two years ago to visit some friends from college. Because I go apeshit for holiday traditions I made sure we returned again last year, and we'll be headed that way again this year. But of course, as manufactured holiday traditions go, they never seem to live up to anyone's expectations, and the first year is always the best.
The first year we went to Minneapolis, our friends threw a party in their apartment and we got to meet a lot of cool people. There was also a table covered in an alcohol smorgasbord and a girl passing tortilla chips around on a frying pan. It was an all around good party.
And this sort of thing happened.
We moved the party to a local gay club later on in the night. There were two things I noticed right away about this club. One: you didn't even have to be 21 to get in which is a really bad sign. Two: there was a notice on the door asking patrons to please kindly refrain from bringing guns into the facility. It was an all-around shady place, teeming with drag queens, and it's where we counted down to midnight (with free champagne).
So naturally, I had high hopes for the next year.
We started the evening off right, by hitting up an asian-tapas-douchebag fusion place for dinner. Each small plate cost about as much as my outfit, and the drinks were served in coconuts and other alternative vessels. The people-watching was superb.
We followed that up with a Troll 2 viewing party before getting dolled up to go out. There was a 90s dance party at a local bar featuring the musical stylings of DJ Tanner (I wish I had thought of that first), so obviously that's where we decided to go.
As we waited on the street corner for a cab, the snow started falling fast and furious. It was a veritable blizzard. Two of our friends decided to call it a night on account of the weather; they were dropping like flies. Finally the cab showed up, and we made our precarious way to the 90s party, all the while nervously thinking, "We should have stayed home today!" The roads were slick.
Image via 331 Club
The bouncers checked our IDs and ushered us inside with a "good luck." I assumed it was some sort of New Years Eve mantra for people who were trying to get lucky or achieve the perfect drunken state. When we got inside, we realized he was wishing us luck in not having a panic attack, because the place was most likely over capacity. We struggled just to get inside, and there's no way we could have actually gotten drinks or danced or even stood next to each other. So we made the executive decision to leave, and it took another ten minutes of pushing and shoving to exit the bar. A girl tried to start a rumble with me on the way out because she thought I was cutting in line for the bathroom. Sadly, no. We were leaving.
We somehow didn't take any actual pictures of this night, but I ganked this one off the bar's website. Looks like it's just always over capacity there...
Image via 331 Club
It was nearing midnight, and there we were standing on the sidewalk, freezing in the blizzard with nowhere to celebrate. You'd think at this point in the story we would discover the true meaning of New Year's Eve/friendship and just be thankful that we had each other. Maybe we'd all start swaying in unison and break out into an impromptu "Auld Lang Syne." That didn't happen.
Instead, we discussed our options. They threw out several bar ideas, but all were too far away, too expensive, or likely too crowded. Finally, my friend got a twinkle in her eye. "What if we went to the VFW?" she asked.
"Isn't that a townie bar for old men?" we asked. She told us that, yes, it usually was, but for some reason the one in Minneapolis had been taken over by hipsters and it was now, ironically, the cool place to be. At that point, anything with a roof and heat sounded good to me, and the fact that they sold alcohol was the icing on the cake, so we hailed a cab.
"Oh, by the way," she said, "there's karaoke too."
I did a spit take, despite not having a drink in my hand. "What?!" I turned to the cabbie. "Drive faster! We've got singing to do!"
Inside the VFW looks exactly as you would expect. There was wood paneling, a bar with stools, booths and tables, and kitschy bar wall art. The only difference was that the place was filled with young people singing karaoke. (There were old people too, don't worry. In fact, it was kind of poignant and magical how the old and the young were coexisting so harmoniously in this bar. I felt like writing a poem or something.)
Not from NYE 2011, but you get the gist of it.
Image via VFW Facebook
The drinks were cheap, the crowd was friendly, and the singing was mellifluous. My friend and I did a rousing rendition of "Somebody to Love," and halfway throught the song I realized I was nowhere near drunk enough to think we sounded good. Better luck next time.
Here's a photo of us doing karaoke, though not at the VFW and not on NYE. If you're curious, we were singing "Aaron's Party (Come Get it!)"
At midnight they passed around noisemakers and hats, we had another round of free champagne, and my man and I shared a good ol' New Year's Eve kiss. It was just like in the movies, where the noise fades away, time moves in slow motion, and you feel like it's just the two of you in the world. Except the spell was broken by two old men sitting nearby, complaining that it never took this long to get a beer refill back in 'Nam.
I'm hoping our New Years Eve in Minneapolis is just as ridiculous this year. But I know that if we end up in a lame bar, stranded on the sidewalk in a blizzard, or in an otherwise less-than-festive situation, we can still fall back on synchronized swaying and "Auld Lang Syne" singing.