Out with the old, in with the new. But it was one more year and none of my friends, quintessential New Yorkers, would commit to plans for the twilight of 2008. No one was throwing house parties, they were too expensive and everyone’s place was too small. So, for the second year in a row, I’d celebrate New Year’s Eve at Brooklyn warehouse parties. Adventure was what I craved. Going to a glitzy Midtown nightclub was way unappealing in these times of financial crisis, so why not skip the bottle service and rich wannabe hipsters in favor of venturing out to a Brooklyn warehouse theme party with a remote secret location full of grit and starving artists?
Two bashes beckoned: Rubulad, the monthly celebration notorious for wild revelry, and Winkel & Balltick’s Mysteries of Creation. They offered time travel, debauchery, outrageous costumes and tribal rituals in labyrinthine locales in South Williamsburg and Bushwick.
Friends Jessica Delfino and Anna Copa Cabanna were playing at Rubulad, along with I Love You Airlines and Flaming Fire. The warehouse was cubby-holed, multi-leveled and stuffed with artsy DIY crafts jumbled everywhere. Although labeled a masquerade ball, few partiers wore costumes. I knew the crowd would be a snooze when the first person I met was a graduate student studying ancient Greek at my Columbia University day job. Copa Cabanna, go-go dancing on top of the bar in a glittering gold bikini, hit the nail on the head: “Don’t you love all the open-mouthed frat boys staring at me?” But there’s still a feel-good love-in vibe at Rubulad. I foolishly left my pocketbook on the floor and 10 minutes later, it was right where I left it, money and credit cards intact.
The Mysteries of Creation unfolded in a 13,000-square-foot space full of tripsters and Burning Man acolytes twirling DayGlo hula-hoops and carrying parasols. There were more people getting their freak out here than at Rubulad, but the venue was so huge that it felt like a convention hall with art installations and psychedelic flowers. I talked fashion with a friendly blond social worker, but not everyone was so groovy. “Get away from my stuff!” I yelled at a woman searching for her coat among my cameras and bag on the cement floor. “Screw you,” she sneered, tossing a beer bottle at me. So much for peace, love and understanding.
Did I have an out-of-body experience? Were the partygoers poets tripping on peyote and hanging from chandeliers? No, things were a lot more sedate. No nirvana for me this New Year’s Eve. Where, oh where were the wild things?