Friday, January 2, 2009

Ringing in the New Year

Charlotte was buzzing all week as area bars and clubs decked their dance floors with balloons, noisemakers and party hats in preparation for New Year's Eve.

The family friendly First Night had people young and old countdown to midnight at the alcohol-free event, but farther up Tryon Street some major celebrations were happening despite the frigid temperatures.

At 9:30, lines were already forming outside the EpiCentre hotspots. My first stop -- by way of a blanket-equipped pedicab -- was Sponsor Parties' 12th Annual New Year's Eve Celebration at BlackFinn Saloon, where a young early 20s crowd was already getting into the festivities. I saw one girl with her shoes already off way too early in the night.


Upstairs was packed, yet drinks were easy to come by thanks to the well-staffed (open) bar. A DJ played the usual crowd-pleasing singalong songs, but also threw in a surprise or two, such as Mariah Carey's infectious (at least to the women in the crowd) "Fantasy."


Over at Mez, the black-tie party was a bit more mellow and drew an older mix of partygoers, probably 28-45. The restaurant had converted the upstairs loft into a lounge, roping off VIP tables for bottle service. Unintrusive house music allowed easy conversation, but the volume and energy of the crowd was on its way up as more people started arriving at 11.


The party of the night was probably at Suite, but I didn't stay long enough to find out -- to walk across the club involved peeling your way through bodies and within minutes I was sweating.

With minutes to spare before midnight, I cabbed it over to my last stop of the night: Rich & Bennett's New Year's Eve Bash at the new Common House in Plaza Midwood.

Common House

More than 1,000 people turned out to this sellout party that included open bar and a buffet from Hawthorne's Pizza. The restaurant had a giant heated tent outside where most of the partygoers stayed to dance and mingle. Inside the staff had given up the battle of trying to keep things relatively clean -- plastic cups and beer splattered floors made the whole thing seem like one big, but still fun, frat party. I was surprised though that it started to clear out as soon as midnight struck. It seemed as though everyone was making a beeline for their coats by 12:30.

Common House

Nearby at the Thirsty Beaver Saloon, my party spies tell me that those who didn't want to pay $100 at the Common House opted for the free entry to the Beaver, where staffers handed out mini bottles of Miller High Life -- the "champagne of beers" -- at midnight.

And the Avett Brothers had Belk Theater rocking as they closed out their two-night New Year's Eve show.

Overall, Charlotte had one heck of a New Year's. I found it to be a lot like Halloween, where every place you go you see friendly faces of people who are eager to have a good time and ring in the new year with total strangers. It was one of the rare nights that I felt a sense of community about our city.

But enough about my night -- I want to hear from you guys. Since I couldn't be everywhere at once, tell me how you spent NYE. Where was the best (or worst) party?

For more party pix from New Year's Eve, click here.


Anonymous said...

I noticed a few places had advertised "open bars", has it now become legal for bars to offer open bars or is ALE not enforcing that law anymore? What's ALE's opinion on this?

Anonymous said...

Best: Simplified at the Visulite. Worst: Rich and bennets sad party.

IRONMAN said...

Thanks for postin' up pics of some NYE hotties.

Anonymous said...

I'll take "Montford Drive Bar Crawl" for the block!

Anonymous said...

Several of us took a limo to several places, downtown, university and Lake Norman. Ended up at NV Nightclub in Lake Norman. It was clearly the best place. Folks there not pretentious with tons of attitude. Great decor. Excellent DJs. Really great staff. Good looking people. They were giving away a grand an hour. My girl won. Helped Pay for the limo and the drinks.

Anonymous said...

Sunset Club sucked! No coat check, no place to sit unless you were "VIP" and hours of listening to horrible Jazz Music!! What a waste of $125!!! I will not be going back to SC!!

Anonymous said...

Dilworth Neighborhood Grille was great again. The new expanded area helped a lot. Self serve beer outside if you didn't feel like waiting a few minutes for a liquor drink. Huge food spread that was pretty good. Overall it was well worth $69 for all you can drink and eat.

Anonymous said...

The Forum was going strong at 10:30 and only got crazier. And you could still walk around and even use the bathroom (what a concept, more than one bathroom). That makes 4 years in a row for me and I haven't been disappointed yet. And they have coat check. Forum for the win.

New to Charlotte said...

Hom sucked. Guest list was screwed up and no coat check. House Party next year.

Anonymous said...

Hom was HORRIBLE. They did not have the event properly staffed. And only ONE (tiny) bar for a sold-out VIP crowd? I literally got one drink all night after paying $75.

Anonymous said...

"the party of the night was probably at Suite, but I didn't stay long enough to find out"


Anonymous said...

Forum was packed. Great crowd that was very energetic. Seamless execution for the night.

Amy Hutchison said...

I went to the NoDa School of the Arts benefit this year at the Atrium at NoDa. I went last year, and the location this year was MUCH better. Last year they packed people into the Wither's House at Queens and had self-serve keg beer, which (particularly considering we were on a college campus) made it feel a little frat party-esque. This year, the food was much better, they had actual bartending staff, and the location was more elegant and festive, which matched the girls dresses and guys' suits. We had a great time, and the crowd didn't leave until much later because of it!