It’s New Year’s Eve half a century ago. What to do? Well, according to the December 31, 1958, issue of the Voice, you could stay home with your “impressionable friend” and have a bottle of 80-proof vodka or some “N.Y. State Champagne” delivered right to your door from Heller’s Liquor store on Greenwich Ave.
Or perhaps you prefer your booze mixed with some serious jazz jams? If so, the Five Spot, on Cooper Square, was the place to be — on New Year’s Eve 1958, both Sonny Rollins and Charles Mingus were on the bill.
A decade later, you could head over to Broadway, near West 3rd Street, and party with David Peel and the Lower East Side as they belted out such no-bullshit numbers as “Show Me the Way to Get Stoned” and “Here Comes a Cop.” For those feeling even more raucous, MC5 were also in the house. (And we’ll just note that, in those days of cutting up type with X-Acto knives and pasting it onto production boards with hot wax, sometimes a piece of copy would fall off. No doubt the Broadway Central Hotel was pissed that its headline “!GET! ON DOWN FOR SIXTY” was missing the “NINE.” Hey, it was the late Sixties, there was always a party going on — even in the Voice production department.)
That same year you could meander over to the Electric Circus (formerly the Dom) to soak up the paisley vibe of the English psychedelic rockers Deep Purple. The club’s ad was straightforward: “A splendid time is guaranteed for all.”
Come the late Seventies, your choices were even more widespread. CBGB’s on the Bowery was apparently having so much success that it opened a new venue on Second Avenue. If poetic punk rock was your cup of tea, you couldn’t do a whole lot better than a double bill of Patti Smith and Richard Hell. Or, if you were in a symphonic mood, what better than a live “Star Wars Laser Concert” on Broadway for a fresh start to the new year? It was, after all, “the Ultimate Laser Trip.”
The Reagan Eighties specialized in crassness, so who better to ring in 1989 than that potty-mouthed greaser throwback Andrew Dice Clay? Who wouldn’t want to “Spend New Year’s Eve with the Hoodlum of Comedy”?
Fortunately, there were other options. One in particular caught our eye. Back in the day, it also caught gossip columnist Michael Musto’s attention, and he would later reminisce about the multilevel dance club Mars: “Inspired by Blade Runner, but with distinct echoes of H.R. Pufnstuf [Mars] had walls of lava lamps and surreal statues to add to the all-around trippy experience.”
Come the late Nineties and it’s just a smorgasbord of sonic sensation all over town. You’ve got Isaac Hayes bringing his hot buttered soul to Life on Bleecker. The more nostalgia-minded could take in a Beatles tribute band at the Rock ’n’ Roll Café, or go back in time to 1984 at the Pyramid Club.
But if we could hop into the Wayback Machine, we’d head over to the Hammerstein Ballroom to blast off with George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars. Because, sometimes, old school never gets old.