New Year’s last night was so perfectly New Years it couldn’t have been any other night. We were getting all amped up to go to a Paul Van Dyk rave and got there at 11pm. We’d been planning to do the countdown among all the ravers and when the clock struck we’d scream with the best of them and dance a little harder, maybe streak or something. Upon arrival, however, we discovered the venue didn’t open until 1am (welcome to Buenos Aires). So we had a crisis on our hands: one hour to midnight and nowhere to celebrate. And the city was a ghost town, seriously. Empty streets, gated up restaurants, it’s not like NYE in the States. The young and beautiful apparently spend the first part of the night with their families then go out later, around 3am, to party until dawn (welcome to Buenos Aires). We didn’t know this. Lesson learned.
So we managed to find a cab and convince him to take us to a neighborhood that’s usually bustling, but we got there and most of the restaurants were dark, and the open ones wouldn’t let us in. Invitation only (and/or we were dressed inappropriately). We started walking, thinking maybe we’d find something on a main road. We walked through shady areas where you knew you were completely safe even though theoretically you should be cautious- nobody would be lurking in the shadows in a ghost town. Nobody was out. It was empty. If there were people in the shadows, they probably would have been skiddish, malnourished ravers who didn’t know what to do with themselves until midnight (who might have been as dangerous as muggers), but nobody was there.
With about 20 minutes we made it to another restaurant that had a private party. They wouldn’t let us in, wouldn’t even let us have any water on this 80+ degree night. With 10 minutes to go we passed another little neighborhood that was completely shut down except for some lonely security guards watching the countdown on TV. We turned a corner and had one last shot, a restaurant Monica knew that might be open. Expensive, but open. With two minutes to go we spotted it.
The six of us stepped into the entryway and got the attention of a waiter. Could we come in and get a table? It was a set menu for about $80 USD… so, no. One minute thirty seconds til midnight. We asked if we could maybe come in and have a bottle of champagne. The woman went inside and disappeared. We waited in the entry way of the restaurant as the seconds kept ticking. One minute. She reappeared to offer champagne at $18 USD per person. We could have a little table and some champagne, but we really only wanted to be inside with other people for New Years, not necessarily the expensive drinks. Was it worth $18? The clock ticked to 20 seconds. She stood in the doorway waiting for our decision.
At 15 seconds we stepped back out onto the sidewalk, under the awning, a security guard watching us because we were dressed for a rave but standing outside the fancy restaurant. At 10 seconds the waitress stepped out as if to make sure we weren’t going to try to come back in and ruin the countdown for the paying customers.
We were out of options. If we had walked any direction we wouldn’t have been anywhere, we would have been among gated telephone shops and dark corners. At least under this awning we could see other people… it’s just as I imagine that in a massive expanse of desert you’d sit by a rock because the only other option you have in the desert is to NOT sit by a rock. So you might as well sit by the rock.
We stood there half under the awning as the clock ticked to midnight … 3… 2… 1… and struck not with an explosion, but rather in the same way a candle flickers quietly to a strand of smoke.
To be honest – 100% honest – I loved it. I love when the world reminds us that our plans and lives aren’t ours to tinker with in the first place, and trying to own our fate is like trying to coach cats. Because when all was said and done, my wise-beyond-her-years cousin Tally took us to one of the more beautiful things I’ve seen on the trip. I’d never been to a rave, and when we finally did get in – closer to 1:30am – we were laying on our backs in a field under, looking at stars, listening to moving music coming from a world-class sound system and finally among excited, welcoming youths. We didn’t make it to dawn, which would have been pretty cool, but I loved the experience nonetheless. It was so warm out and there was a breeze. We got to dance and look at the stars on New Year’s Eve, but the valuable part of the night really could have happened any night of the year.
Love you all,