Scotland contributed the original New Years Eve chestnut “Auld Lang Syne” to modern culture, and in that country the night of December 31st is known as Hogmanay and it’s celebrated in the streets until sunrise with wild, unhinged abandon. In the Philippines, where the circle traditionally symbolizes the New Year, they wear polka dots, consume round fruits, and run around the house loudly shaking coins around in a pie tin for good luck. In France, they call it “la Saint-Sylvestre”, a celebration which involves eating, drinking, and then more eating and drinking until the holiday ends nearly a week later on January 6 for the Epiphany, which I’m guessing goes something like “Oh wow, I’m so full and drunk.” Down in Ecuador, they spend weeks making elaborate paper mache effigies that represent the people and events of the past year, then torch them up and blow them to smithereens with firecrackers.
Here in the United States, some choose to avoid the riff-raff and stay home to watch the eerily ageless, re-animated Dick Clark count down the seconds to midnight as the big ball drops in Times Square. However, the most popular way for us Americans to ring in the New Year is to get completely blotto, and when the clock strikes twelve, start making out with everyone we see. Here in North Idaho, there’s no shortage of places where revelers can do what Prince once so brilliantly suggested and party like its 1999, except without the paranoid Y2K trip. If you’ve got the itch to party like its 2007 one last time, I’ve got the low-down on some of the more interesting happenings around town. Get dressed to the teeth, rattle noisemakers and drink champagne until your head throbs, but make sure you drag along an “old acquaintance” to be your designated driver or you may “be forgot” in jail.
The young ones want to party too, so have the babysitter take them to Skate Plaza. The big bash starts early in the evening at 6, which gives you some time to put on your face and relax with a few pre-show hi-balls without the little rascals terrorizing you. Skate Plaza is kind of like a dry run for kids, giving them a g-rated chance to preview the atmosphere of a night club, but with Italian Sodas instead of Bull Blasters. The $13 cover includes admission, skate rental, and party hats and horns. Sounds like you’ll have to sport the extra cash for nachos and games of Frogger. They’ll be giving away “$100’s in prizes” and a balloon drop at midnight promises to be nerve-shattering fun – imagine dozens of kids stomping around on roller skates and trying to pop balloons underfoot. Good times.
If the babysitter’s already too drunk to watch the kids, you’ll have to take them with you. Consider attending the family friendly events at the Coeur d’Alene Resort, where for a mere $70, you can enjoy a worry-free evening after sending your children off to “New Years Eve Kids Kamp”. According to the Resort, “This Kamp includes supervision, lots of fun activities and dinner“; however they offer no explanation as to why it was necessary to spell it with a “K”. Meanwhile, the top-40 cover act Nobody Famous will be providing entertainment for the grown-ups in the bays of the Resort Convention Center. The evening starts innocently enough with a prim and proper social at 7 o’clock, then loosens up a bit with dinner and drinks at 8, and finally throws its hair loose and goes buck wild at 9 with music and dancing. Hopefully, the evening will make it until midnight without tipsily joining the band onstage and attempting to sing like James Brown or getting sick in the poinsettias like it did last year. Clearly, the evening needs to remember to pace itself a bit.
New Year’s Eve parties galore are going off throughout downtown Coeur d’Alene including the delightful rockabilly music of Julie Anne & the Jukebox Junkies at the Eagles Lounge, dancing to good-time blues with Laffin’ Bones at the Wine Cellar, and the driving acoustic indie rock of Seattle’s TJ Sherrill down at the Moon Time. Mik-n-Mac’s Lounge are putting on their always-memorable annual New Years Eve gala, which has a “That 70’s” twist on the theme this year. “From psychedelic to formal, anything goes,” is how owner Rita Mikalatos puts it, and when she says anything goes at her bar, she means it. The night will also mark the debut of some recent improvements to the place, including a new VIP lounge area with comfy leather couches and the introduction of over fifty new martinis with silly names like “Flirtini”, “Woo Woo”, and “Royal Nut Job”. DJ Jason will be spinning all your favorite original disco gems, so break out the bedazzler and make sure your outfit is boogie-oogie-licious. A $10 ticket includes fun party favors and champagne, plus lots and lots of good eye candy on the dance floor.
Over in Post Falls, the hot thing for New Years Eve is putting on your best Carharts, drinking shots of some strong whiskey and dancing to good old Country music. Big Cat Daddy from KDRK Cat Country radio will be hosting the party at the Slab Inn ,which includes the boot-stomping tunes of “the outlaw” Steve Starkey and Chris Casserino, along with party favors and midnight champagne. The cover charge is $8. It’s a similar vibe down the street a few miles at Big Al’s, where local Country hero Jim Hunstman and his band will be rocking the rafters while drunken city girls make spectacles of themselves by attempting to ride the mechanical bucking bull. This bar is offering an $80 package, which includes cover charge, dinner, and a night in a luxurious suite at the Riverbend Inn. Admission only is $10 in advance or $15 at the door.
Further out of town at the Coeur d’Alene Casino, you can lose all your Christmas money in one of the many blinking, beeping slot machines when you attend their “New Years Eve Crazy 2000 & Eight”party. I have no idea what “Hot Seats” are, but I’m guessing that gamblers will be excited about the $6000 worth of them from 8-12:30 that night. Music is provided by Smash Hit Carnival and takes off at 9, along with a dizzyingly intense $65,000 all-day Bingo Session. In addition, they’re having hourly drawings for giant LCD televisions and a special $22.99 New Years Eve dinner buffet. If my luck wasn’t so rotten I’d show up since it sounds like almost everyone is bound to win at least a little something.
Finally, if your New Years Eve is just another day off to go skiing or snowboarding, several local mountains have planned their events with you in mind. What could be better than hitting the slopes all day, then warming up by the lodge fireplace and ringing in the New Year with a nice cup of cocoa or hot buttered rum? At Schweitzer Mountain Resort, jazz-rock act Sol Jibe will see in 2008 with an intimate performance at Taps Lounge beginning at 8:30. Free shuttle service between the parking lot at the bottom of the mountain and Schweitzer Village is available.
Kellogg’s Silver Mountain Resort is also pulling out all the stops, culminating in a torchlight parade which can be seen from up at the Mountain Haus followed by a dazzling fireworks display at midnight. Local cowboy Sammy Eubanks will be keeping the crowd at Noah's Canteen in high spirits. The $10 admission includes party favors, all-you-can-wrap-in-napkins-and-sneak-into-your-purse hors d’oevres, and a champagne toast at midnight. Hopefully, when the clock strikes twelve, you’ll be standing near some very kissable strangers.