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September 2, 2014, 8:02 am

Start planning next New Year’s party

I would like to share an experience with you that I had last New Year’s Eve that involved partying, drinking and driving. As you know, some of us still engage in some serious partying, which often involves serious drinking. Partying and drinking involve either appointing a designated driver or driving oneself home. Those who have had to drive after a serious night of partying know they were lucky if they avoided an accident or contact with the authorities on the way home.

So, last Monday night, I partied well into 2013 with some friends, had too many wines and topped things off with an Amaretto. This was not a good idea, since I was over the limit. Having no one to drive me home, I decided to do something I have never done before; I took a taxi. It passed a police roadblock, but because it was a taxi, they waved it past. I arrived home safely and without incident.

Actually, this did not happen to me. What I shared with you comes from an unknown source and was shared by a friend through email. The story quickly took me back to our New Year’s partying and drinking, as many of us used to do back in the day.

People do not party on New Year’s Eve as they did back in the day. Weeks before the Eve, people were busy planning their evening out on the town. Back then, we had to go out to a party “somewhere” on New Year’s Eve. Recall the planning for this special event. First, there was the matter of sorting through the written and verbal invitations; which party would be well attended; which would be the place where most of the “in-crowd” would appear; and if you were single and a male, which party would have the most “lookers.” Should I attend a house party or one at a ballroom or hall? Once this decision was made, there was the challenge of looking for that special outfit to make you stand out in the crowd. For some, the plan was to go from one party to another, making several stops before the night was over. Some of you went from your homes to one party. Still others felt compelled to go to Watch Night services, claiming to “get right with the Lord” and then leave for a party after the new year came in.

A New Year’s Eve party was not a party without foods characteristic of the spirit of the occasion. These were present in banquet halls and in homes, but more prevalent at house parties. If you made your own personal list of foods and compared it with mine, I suspect there would be no significant differences. Yours would contain rice and black-eyed peas, collard greens with hog jowls, cabbage, potato salad, fried chicken and cornbread. No, I did not forget chitterlings; this was the mainstay on the table at almost every New Year’s Eve party. It would not be a party without chitterlings. Today, people going out to such parties do not engage in consuming alcohol as we did. We should all be thankful for this. Today, the drinks of choice are either a beer or perhaps some wine.

In light of changes that we see, I am wondering if anyone went to a New Year’s Eve party last Monday and had a shot of Old Grand-Dad. What about I.W. Harper or Old Crow? Did anyone have Dewar’s White Label Scotch or Chivas Regal with milk? Are Canadian Club and ginger ale or Seagram’s Seven and ginger ale consumed by anyone today? Are some still drinking Southern Comfort straight up? Did anyone enjoy a glass of Cooks Champagne simply to reminisce about New Year’s Eves of the past? I know Thunderbird or Boone’s Farm were nowhere to be found. However, if for any reason you had one of these drinks, I suspect you had big fun, dancing and laughing and making unlimited resolutions. I suspect you awakened next day with a major headache. Then again, perhaps you went well over your limit and cannot recall what took place on New Year’s Eve. We are thankful, given the perils of drinking and driving, that this type drinking has been left, for most people, back in the day.

Back in the day people were highly visible in the streets in their party hats, blowing party horns or making noise with their noisemakers. People would slowly drive through the streets just to see sights that seemed to appear only on New Year’s Eve. One sight characteristic of New Year’s Eves back in the day was the “running drunk.” This was someone so drunk he would be engaged in a tip-toe run, usually alongside a wall to avoid falling over.

Yes, there are partygoers today, but not like those in the past. When one does go to a party today, he or she tends to stay there for the evening. Restrictions placed on driving and the dangers of alcoholic beverages have had a positive impact on cutting down on the wild partying of the past. Unlike today, you may recall that our New Year’s Eve parties of the past occurred right in our neighborhoods. Thus, returning home from a wild party involved walking just a block or two; no driving was required.

Those of you old enough to party back in the ’80s will recall Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc. put on the most sought-after bid to a New Year’s Eve party in this town. We partied at the old Civic Center with crowds so large that tables had to be set up on the stage. New Year’s Eve partying in the ’50s and ’60s generally took the form of a house party. If you were not part of a clique or an “in group” invited to a New Year’s Eve party, you went looking for a party. This was by men rather than women. You would learn that a party was being held on a given block, but you had no address. So, what did you do? You would walk up and down the block, listening at the front door or basement window until you heard music. Then you would ring the bell and attempt to present yourself as having been invited. A big thing was “crashing a party.” Because some hosts did not want any trouble, party crashers were admitted as often as they were turned away. But party crashers made everyone uncomfortable and were watched carefully by those invited; New Year’s Eve parties were centered on couples. Much to the relief of the invitees, party crashers, traveling in small groups, would move on after a short period of time.

If you like the idea of a New Year’s Eve party and wish to engage in some advance planning for closing out 2013 and bringing in 2014, it may not be too early to begin making plans. Why not consider creating a party atmosphere reminiscent of the past? You may want to charge a nominal admission fee based on the size of one’s waist; the larger the waist, the more one would pay. Make certain your plans include having red lights on when fast music is played and blue lights on when slow music is played. Pull out your old record player and only play records; no compact disks or music from any other source. Let everyone should know in advance that they will be required to engage in dances such as “the slop,” cha-cha and the grind. Consider piling all coats on a bed; do not plan on using closets or racks for any coat, including furs. Take the many months leading up to next December to go out and find the one record that would end all parties in the past, not just a New Year’s Eve party. You must remember the one, with these words by Jesse Belvin: “The party’s over, its time to go.” The alcoholic beverages, referred to above, should be served in moderation and your menu should include all of those back-in-the-day foods typically served on New Year’s Eve. I suspect you will have an unforgettable time. If you do follow-through with plans for this type of grand affair next New Year’s Eve, let me offer one caution: Many of us are getting up in age and you may plan to have one thing we did not need in years past — have a doctor friend present


Alonzo Kittrels can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or The Philadelphia Tribune, Back In The Day, 520 S. 16th St., Philadelphia, PA 19146.