This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
It's me, the Enforced Fun Gremlin! [Sound of a party hooter approaching from a distance; that curious dark feeling of a handful of confetti fluttering down around you; the sensation of a Corky's shot being roughly pushed into your hand; me, emerging in shiny "2017" sunglasses, Hawaiian shirt and coke eyes combo, saying "OI OI!" so hard you can feel the heat of my breath] Ha ha, only joking! It's New Year, isn't it, and you have to go out, because it's the fucking law! Sadly, there are only eight nights out you are allowed to have:
SPIN AROUND THE NEW YEAR'S EVE ONLY-OPTION-AVAIL-O-TRON™ AND CHOOSE WISELY WHICH OF THESE YOU WANT TO DO WHEN WE FINALLY SEND 2016 TO THE DUST
– Go to a nightclub you have already bought tickets to
– Go to a nightclub you have not already bought tickets to but you go to all the time and will "head to after"
– Go to a pub you have bought tickets to
– Go to a pub you have not bought tickets to but you go to all the time and you will "head there around 8ish"
– A public fireworks display on the sour banks of the River Thames
– A popping house party
– A disparate house party happening at the same time as six other house parties all hosted by mutual friends
– Fucking nothing
Those are your options, all eight of them. Those are the only possible nights out you can have. And let's dismiss two of those options out-of-hand: the "fucking nothing" option – which I did one year, and let me tell you: it was brilliant – which, necessarily, isn't a night out, and so is being struck from the list; and the "public fireworks display on the sour banks of the River Thames", because you're not going to do that, are you, actually? All those people in cosy hats and scarves, cooing at a sky alight with money? Then all trying to cram onto the one same tube carriage to get home, at once? Is that what you want? Do you want to pay £8 for a small cone of sugared peanuts? Do you want a Community Support Officer to come and tell you off for drinking a can of shop-bought Red Stripe? Do you not want to know where or how to piss? No. A nightmare. A hellish way to start the year.
And so to your real options, which we will consider in turn:
GO TO A NIGHTCLUB YOU HAVE ALREADY BOUGHT TICKETS TO
This happened one of two ways, didn't it, because you are not ordinarily an organised person; normally you would never get this shit done. So the ways are this: either some lad in blue jeans, blue blazer, open collar white shirt and one blocked nostril approached you and your mates in a Wetherspoons recently and, in a quick Essex accent, sold you on the idea of his club night – "Great night, great girls, free shot when you arrive, lads, and we've got loads of DJs, floor fillers, free cloakroom if you're in before 7 – FLOOR FILLAHS – can I interest you boys in some tickets? £12 each or four for £60?" – and yes, somehow, you were stunned by how he managed to say all those words in less than one second, so, bedazzled by the idea of it, you all bought what very much appear to be raffle tickets off him, and now you're going to some place you've never heard of on the edge of town called "Chasers:, which may or may not be a strip club.
Or, more annoyingly, someone Actually Organised in your friendship group has started a big long Facebook group chat about NYE – it's their birthday on NYE, or something, they take it more seriously than most – and they've made it so if you all PayPal the money to them they'll organise tickets and a big taxi there but not back. So already you are locked onto the rigid train tracks of fun.
I mean, inside it's fun, I suppose: you all got there in good time – probably a little too good, if you're honest, because it's 9PM and nobody else is there, so you get to watch as all the people you might try to fuck file in, sober-looking and holding their coats – and actually you all managed to get a table, so as the lights flash purple and blue and beats get thicker you all have a little base to prop your drinks up on when you try and fail to talk to each other over the noise; and then you get a little buzz on and you're dancing and midnight comes and goes with some DJ-voiced bloke counting "TEN… NOINE… EIGHT, WAGWAN!" in a way that seems to take a minute-and-a-half, and you get the drinks in and a few more beers and you're screaming along to some floor fillers – "EVERYBODY'S FREEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" you're screaming, until your voice goes hoarse, "TO FEEL GOOD!" – and then you leave at a decent time, maybe a snog or maybe a kebab, and, ears still ringing, you somehow flump without waiting into a cab.
That was… a fine night, I guess? That was… OK?
GO TO A CLUB YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY BOUGHT TICKETS TO BUT YOU GO TO ALL THE TIME AND WILL 'HEAD TO AFTER'
Ah, yeah, this is not so good. Because you started with pre-drinks round someone's house, obviously – "I'm not paying a tenner a pint just to get pissed!" you're saying, deep-throating a bottle of supermarket vodka – and then that all got a bit hectic, and plans to leave at nine soon slipped to ten, and you all started playing Mario Kart for a bit while the girls put their coats on and that took another half hour to finish the tournament, and then that cab you called had left because nobody noticed it was idling outside, and now it's 11.10PM and you're in the queue and you're anxious, because looking at it – and this is a conservative estimate, you are making, a conservative estimate made by a very pissed person – there are about 80 people in front of you already, and the queue hasn't moved once since you got there. You eventually get in before midnight, just, but then the bar is heaving so you can't get a drink before midnight, and everyone has scattered to go and do lines or have a piss or have a fag after gasping for all three in the queue, so you're alone at midnight, utterly alone, and your buzz has gone so you have to chase it back, but it never really works like that, so you're at the bar asking for £5 bottles of Stella and just sinking them, maybe a shot, maybe you bump into your mates occasionally while you're dancing but it's heaving, everyone you see seems to be having a better time than you, and before you notice it's 3AM and it's lights up – like what the fuck man, what the fuck – and the queue outside for the taxis is absolutely mental, so one of your mates is like, "My place is just around the corner: we can walk it from there," but then a big group of you is waiting around for one crying girl to stop talking to the police after having her phone nicked, and a few have gone on ahead, and it's splitting now – nights like these pivot on such moments – and you realise that nah, fuck it, this isn't happening, so you walk home, but misjudge the distance, so it's just you, these painful new shoes and a mile-and-a-half of late-night residential walking, and when you get in – carefully, quietly – and flop into your bed, adrenaline still pumping, you have a little cry. Happy 2017!
GO TO A PUB YOU HAVE BOUGHT TICKETS TO
This is a really shit way to spend £12, but you've got a platter of sausage rolls, somewhere to sit and the karaoke is pretty popping. Someone bought a dog! A dog to the pub! I mean, someone seems to have done something you'd very much describe as "died shitting" in the men's toilets, but other than that: this is a jolly old time! Enjoy it!
GO TO A PUB YOU HAVE NOT BOUGHT TICKETS TO BUT YOU GO TO ALL THE TIME AND YOU WILL 'HEAD THERE AROUND 8ISH'
Not happening, lads, not happening. "But—" you try it, but pub bouncers have seen it all. Pub bouncers are smarter and better than you at one game and one game only, and that is "bouncing pubs". There are six of you, and one of your mates swore it'd be fine – "I haven't got a ticket but they said there'd be plenty on the door" – and it's rapidly approaching midnight now, and they are operating a strict one-in, one-out policy, and you're desperate for a piss and have been for 40 minutes, but he's not letting you in, you're not getting in, and your mate's pleading with him – "Please, mate, come on, there's only six of us" – and then the bouncer pulls a shiteating bouncer move, one of those next level bouncer moves, where he goes, "Fine: I'll let five of you in," and you take it – Rob's meant to be meeting his girlfriend after anyway, he'll just go to where she is – and you sprint in, to the toilet, absolutely unload your body into that porcelain sanctuary, and you hear them outside, chanting, and Auld Lang Syne's coming up, and ah, shit mate: you spent the moment 2016 became 2017 pissing so hard it splashed back and got a bit on your trousers. 20-minute wait at the bar. All the crisps have been bought. Fucked it.
A POPPING HOUSE PARTY
It is my humble opinion that a popping house party is the best place on NYE if you want to have i. drugs ii. a good time iii. full penetrative sex or iv. any combination of the above. Popping house parties have a half-curated guest list and guaranteed attendees. They have a very fixed spend. You can waltz in with a big two-litre bottle of IRN-BRU and walk out with a bag of warm beers. There are different rooms, different vibes. You can play DJ. You don't need to queue at a bar. The bathroom is a shitshow but let's move on from that. There's a little sub-party of people in the garden, smoking and laughing. You can't stay out there too long because it's cold and you don't smoke, and anyway everyone's in those little conversations and you don't want to interrupt anyone. Go back upstairs. Your mate's in a corner talking to someone attractive: don't fuck it. Scoop out a quiet-seeming bedroom. Nothing. Some lad in a leather jacket and one of those little ribbed beanie hats is asking if you know anyone here. "Yes, mate," you say, "my ma—" but you turn to them in the corner and they have gone. Don't worry, the wise leather guru is saying. This is my house, my party. You accidentally do a bit of ketamine while lots of people really loudly chew their own jaw and ask you about your job. Are you having fun? You're having fun. All the ingredients are there for having fun – booze, beautiful interesting people, drugs, dark corners and light dancefloors – but are you, personally: are you having fun? That quiet room you saw upstairs with the cosy bed in it seems alluring right about now, doesn't it? Your eyes hurt. Your head hurts. Your body hurts. This year hurts. You've had fun, but enough now. You've had fun, and it's just about late enough for you to get the first bus home. Go get it, child, and sleep the sleep of a thousand dreamless babies.
A DISPARATE HOUSE PARTY HAPPENING AT THE SAME TIME AS SIX OTHER HOUSE PARTIES ALL HOSTED BY MUTUAL FRIENDS
The thing with New Year's Eve house parties is they are so hard to call the guest list for, because even if you invite all 800 of your Facebook friends maybe only 16 will turn up – most people are back home, or have plans, or have to be at their boyfriend's family thing, or they are in New York, or they're just not feeling it, or they'll play it by ear, or actually I'm going to Ricky's, round the corner, I don't think you know him, but maybe I'll pop by if his is rubbish – so it turns into New Year being just thousands of these simultaneous dead little house parties, of fewer than 20 people who don't quite know each other leaning on the kitchen counter of a person who they also don't quite know, and it's gone 11PM before someone even thinks to do something as simple as put the music on, and you are here because you hadn't anywhere else to go and you didn't have anyone else to go with, and at midnight someone lets off a party popper that echoes so loud around the party you think you're going to have an anxiety attack with it, and you realise you've been mindlessly plodding through a bowl of cheese-and-onion maize snacks now so your entire orange hand and body now smell of it, and this is, in a way, the most apt way to say goodbye: a year where everything happened, all of it awful, burned away in the fire. And here you are, at one of the worst parties of your life, a 40-minute nightbus away from home, not having fun: is this not, in many ways, the perfect analogy for the year gone by? Gaze at the girl whose house it is who is already doing the washing up in pyjamas even though it has not yet gone 1AM, and endeavour to be like her: this is the year, isn't it, the clean break you needed, 2017. This is the year you drop six pounds, run that 5km, get that new job, become a new you. 2016 has been a horrible chrysalis, scorched at every seam, and now you can emerge from it anew: if you can survive 2016, you can survive anything. If you can survive this fucking dead-ass party, you can survive anything. 2017 is the year everything gets better; we have to believe that. Start now. Start by fucking off from this and getting an Uber and paying the surge fare and going home. Sleep good, sleep long, sleep so well you can sip from that sleep again, sip like it is restorative nectar. Let's start again tomorrow.
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