The very notion of New Year’s Eve and dancing has me running for cover and not coming out until after New Year.
Not so much in the past few years, now the danger’s passed but on the old blog, I ran a piece by Stephen Pollard about NYE parties and in particular, that most loathed of “dances” – the conga.
Can you imagine anything more appealing than this?
Can’t now find Stephen’s original piece online but I have the text of it from his old blog:
It is quite beyond me how any sentient human being could actually enjoy it.
Despite the fact that every year it serves up the same combination of discomfort, expense and misery, come the following year, people behave as if the entire wretched experience has been wiped from their memory and look forward to it once again as the greatest party night of the year.
Almost certainly you will know, at most, half a dozen people at the party. As midnight strikes, you must celebrate joyously with strangers. Yes, I can think of nothing I would rather do than be pushed into a giant conga around the room in the middle of the night with people to whom I have never spoken.
You may well be a boisterous, “bubbly” person who enjoys nothing more than pressganging reluctant people into group dancing but you’re not going to catch me anywhere near such a thing.
In Blighty, thank goodness, one can avoid NYE like the plague, should one want – this is the land of the sad misanthrope after all – but in Russia, there was no escape. If you were shaping up to be alone on that night, someone was always going to try to stop it happening, even down to them crashing your evening.
Done from good motives, no doubt and on the principle that no one could possibly wish to have a quiet one alone, boisterous social creatures never understand that some might not wish for such a vehicle by which to greet the NY.
Auld Lang Syne is a fine old tune and nothing against it – just not in an artificial circle of bonhomie with everyone fiercely enjoying themselves to overcome the boredom.
There was a sweet article by a girl called Elena and the thing she pointed out, which stayed with me, was that she always feels so alone on NYE – this despite the crowd of people or rather – because of it. With family or a couple of friends or a boyfriend/girlfriend, it’s never lonely.
Walk though among a swaying crowd of determined revellers and you know no one, you’re not part of their world, your companion is Proust. You wander on dark though streetlit glistening black streets, past the endless couples arm-in-arm, you’re pile-driven by the endless thump-thump-thump of the outdoor concert over there, with some adenoidal girl or man-having-a-vasectomy-without-anaesthetic utterly destroying some beautiful song or the MC bellowing into a microphone and booming from a tannoy close to where you are and it’s brought home over and over that you’re alone. Utterly alone, unknown and don’t figure in anyone’s plans.
No thanks – I’d rather be alone with friends, even online. Russia always features in my NYE – there’ll be Skyping, there’ll be toasts, it will have those overtones to it.
As a person not generally given to loneliness [otherwise I would have done something about it at any cost], nevertheless, two moments remain in the vivid memory.
One was in Luxembourg. I’d visited friends in France and many of those locations feature in my books, now it was time to continue the tour and the night after I’d been in a farmhouse with friends, struggling to understand French but having a whale of a time, I now found myself in Luxembourg, streetlit, bustling, knowing no one, nowhere to sleep.
The other was one weekend, having been overworking a bit, thought I’d take a spin up to Scotland, asked a couple of people, no one fancied it so off I went. Driving into Inverness around dusk, the lights in houses and in shops were inviting, the scene was picturesque – and yet there was no place for me there, no abode, I knew no one, none of those warm fireside interiors were for me.
There was a third, actually but not my experience. It was one of those desktop wallpapers [can't find it now]. Looking in through a snow-covered window, there was a festive scene inside of a family around the fire and presents under the trees.
Outside, on the snowy sill, looking in, were two robins. Think this wallpaper was removed later as it had sad overtones. Yet it resonated with me.
How to reconcile this image with the image of Stephen Pollard’s hated conga? I mean, we don’t have to remain on the sill outside, looking in. We could be inside, doing the conga with the rest of ‘em.
Doesn’t it come down to either being with someone special or being with no one at all? Fortunately, my Russian gf and I both had the same idea and would slip away to be alone together. That’s when the endless, swaying crowds, the dark, glistening streets, the cacophony, all came alive, vibrant rather than mind-battering.
There’s a message somewhere in all this waffle, just don’t know what it is.
Classy lines from the article and comments, by the way:
# I want to embarrass the kids with my dodgy dancing. It’s like one of those real great milestones of life like hazing your daughters boyfriend with the gun cabinet.
# Just like cheap vodka and tattoos, head banging, air guitar and heavy metal are best left to the under 20s.
# I’d advise staying away from parties with primped bottle blondes who think anyone gives a toss what she thinks about their dancing?
Precisely. She’s a real turn-off. Someone not up herself though – that would be another matter.