Not known for her refined taste in food (she thought burgers at the Bronx were just too fancy), dinner details were left to more capable hands. But the group had selected her as arbiter of the rest of the evening, or as she thought of it, the evening: New Year’s Eve. Way too much pressure.
She tended to believe that a busted New Year’s Eve was a jinx on the following year. She did have reason. There was one time up North that ended up with an acquaintance fighting a dog and more pukers than toilets. The next year, she had major surgery, got dumped — twice — and even found herself couch-surfing for a few months. It was brutal.
Ever since, she’s approached New Year’s Eve with a reverence usually reserved for weddings ... and what do people do at weddings? Dance.
Vicente’s (1250 Library St.; 313-962-8800) downtown would be happening for sure. Always fun. It would be bumping, with a flamenco dancer, a DJ and salsa lessons, but she found out that a chef’s personal dinner was a part of the package that evening. Plus, salsa dancing can be kind of couple-y, and their group was singles-centric.
She had heard good things about the Ethiopian dancing at the Marathon Ethiopian Restaurant (60 University Ave. W.; 519-253-2215) in Windsor, which starts late and ends later, but the crowd nixed the whole border-crossing thing. Plus, no live band, one of her deal-breakers.
Polka was always a riot, not too fancy, and one of her friends has a major Slavic fetish. She discovered that the Polish Roman Catholic Union Hall (1430 Oak St.; 734-284-5925) in Wyandotte was having a polka night, which sounded promising.
Another possibility was Arabic. She had talked so much about her single visit to Adonis (4853 Schaefer Hwy.; 313-584-9300) that everyone wanted to check it out. The flavored tobacco to smoke out of argilehs, the throng of extremely festive dancers, including a belly dancer on this New Year’s night and two singers, Dearborn was certainly shaping up to be an intriguing option. Yet another was the good old Gaelic League (2062 Michigan Ave.; 313-964-7474) in Corktown, where the rig and jig had more than once reeled her in.
So which to choose? Screw it, I did the research, she thought. Let the rest of them decide. —Kelli B. Kavanaugh
If I Ever Get Out of Here...
Sucking down lemonade — why the hell do they call it lemonade anyway when it’s made with limes? — Whatever ... sucking down lemonade at Kathmandu Chullo (411 S. Washington Ave.; 248-546-7286) in Royal Oak, I’m unbelievably glad I’m not paying 80 bucks, even if I did have a fake ID, for one glass of champagne and some shitty hors d’oeuvres tray, watching Royal Oakers get wasted.
I scratch my sweat sock and move my toes to crack a few, because I can. There’s a “no shoes” policy in Katmandu. Michelle pulls up her legwarmer and repositions her skirted self because it’s drafty sitting near the window. Dude, Michelle’s beautiful, especially in this rainbow-looking room. She’s such a little showoff. Your second instinct is to tell her to quit with the obnoxiousness, but your first is to let her keep it up. It’s New Year’s Eve, the night you take things as far as they can go, and she’s a dancer. You always let a dancer show off.
As we wait for food, Jesse — or Matt, maybe it was Matt — convinces her to pose like some Hindu performer. Her best attempt at the finger positioning and flirty glance is better than most. No idea if this looks like traditional Nepalese dancing or not. It’s different than metalcore.
The spicy lamb dish we ordered (tastiest meat there is, by the way, a meat to celebrate, really) is cooking in the kitchen. Yeah, um, starved after a three-hour practice. You know, the owner, Rocky from West Bloomfield, treats this place like his home. He chats on his cell phone, balancing it on his shoulder cuz he’s on all fours, brushing the rugs with — get this — an actual brush. Vacuums are no good; at least I overhear him explain it that way to a few folks too preoccupied to care. So it occurs to me: If we all die here in “Michigan, United States,” like it says on the band’s Myspace page, we’ll have had one good meal, one good New Year’s night we’ll actually remember, to go on. —Rebecca Mazzei
Sky is the Limit
You drag your friends to see Sky Covington because you can tell your friends you never know what to expect. Maybe you told them about that night when, with her back to the audience in a cool Miles Davis-style, the chanteuse-poet-performance artist shucked her sarong. Or the night someone shaved her head as she recited poetry. Maybe you were there. More likely you’re just passing on stuff you’ve heard or read in Metro Times. These days her energy goes into her words and the music — and into stage presence. That’s the sure thing you’re here for, “samba-fusion-acid-jazz.” It’s the stuff she does a couple nights a week over at Bert’s on Broadway, but tonight’s Xotic New Year’s Eve Ball at Bert’s Warehouse Theater (2727 Russell St., 248-219-9751) is a little wilder. Actually, a lot wilder. Lots of skin showing. A VIP “Booty Bus” outside with pole dancing and a dance floor. A guy named Fluent rapping his exotic poetry. An exotic pageant competition. It’s over-the-top fun, something you could bring your mother to, you rationalize, but you know you shouldn’t talk about your mama like that.
You catch a moment to chat up Sky just before she goes on for her set. Talking about great New Year’s Eves, she tells you about the one when she saw Stevie Wonder rip it up for a hometown crowd. Will she do it like Stevie? you ask. “He’s Stevie, and I’m Sky,” she says, putting a confident emphasis on her own name. Sky won’t end 2006 or start 2007 comparing herself to anyone else. And she says it with such sass that you walk back to your table shakin’ your head, knowing you shouldn’t either. —W. Kim Heron
Song of the Skunked
“Drunk, drunk, drunk in the gardens and the graves,” an old partner in song would say. He’s dead now. I should be dead too. I’ve been a drunk enough. Drunk enough to know that I hate New Year’s Eve. I hate it because the sugary promise of a New Year fills my head with dull pangs of dread and remembrances of life-changing “ideas” that wilted on the vine. I hate New Year’s “resolutions.” Resolutions mean action. Action? That’s so boring. It’s this kind of “action” that offers false optimism, a kind of cranial Band-Aid that, in the end, only reinforces thoughts of waning aspirations: “Hey, let’s make resolutions to improve our lives!”
Try as you might, no resolution will make you stop smoking. No resolution will put an end to your booze. No resolution will cease your intake of, say, blow. If you’re in those trenches, the battles are won and lost each year until you expire.
I hate New Year’s Eve because of the suburban-flamboyant chubby white yahoos who terrorize bars spouting rancid “Auld Lang Syne” chestnuts like Viagra-enhanced sailors on leave. They’re mass produced — date-rape coifs, fast-food jowls and exaggerated senses of entitlement — and roll in lines of swerving SUVs. They ruin everything. The night is designed for them and their like-minded pals. I’d wager that not one of them knows how to drink.
Me? I stay in. I’ve got a fireplace and a smart New Year’s Eve-hating girl and a giant rug and three cats and Harry Nilsson. Shit, now there’s a guy who knew how to drink. He probably hung around his house all night on Dec. 31, wearing but a bathrobe, plunking a piano key or two and living his very own pandemonium shadow show with a drink in one hand. I love that. —Brian Smith
Cold Beers on Ice
As December rushed to a close, the Detroit Red Wings were neck-and-neck with Nashville for the points lead in the Central Division, Western Conference. And that meant only one thing for “the Junkyard Dog” and his buddy Nick: head to the bar to watch the team’s New Year’s Eve game versus the Los Angeles Kings. Junkyard went with his Stevie Y jersey. He had to — ever since Nicklas Lidstrom had replaced the revered Yzerman as the Wings’ intrepid captain, Nick had worn the big Swede’s sweater for every game they’d watched together. “He’s my namesake,” he’d mumble through mouthfuls of Bud Light and Beer Nuts. Now, Wings fans at Hockeytown (2301 Woodward Ave.; 313-965-9500) or TC Gators in Canton (42559 Ford Rd.; 734-981-0906), or any of the duo’s other regular haunts were a forgiving bunch, so long as you were wearing red and white. But two dudes ringing in 2007 while draped in identical Lidstrom jerseys would probably make “the Junkyard” and Nick look more like frustrated dreamers than dedicated revelers. No, Yzerman’s jersey was definitely getting the call off the hanger for this New Year’s showdown. —Johnny LoftusSend comments to firstname.lastname@example.org