Posted: Monday, December 31, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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“What should we do tonight? I asked Linda.
“I don’t know, what do you wanna do?”
“It’s New Year’s Eve, I suppose we should celebrate somehow.”
For most of my adult life there was never a question about what I would be doing the last night of December. I’d be playing drums with the band at somebody else’s New Year’s Eve party or at a bar someplace.
In the early years it was something I looked forward to..not only because it was fun to play for a group of people already in the mood for celebrating, but also because it was understood that bands received double pay for  New Year’s Eve gigs and I could always use the extra money especially after Christmas.
For several years during the seventies and eighties, the band I was in worked five nights a week at “The Station Break” lounge, which was part of  Daves (that’s pronounced DAH-vays..but I don’t know how to put that little French accent line above the “s”) Italian restaurant.
It then became the Red Lantern. We always had good crowds but on New Year’s Eve, it was packed sardine tight and loud..loud..loud. The hats and horns came out at 11 and it was pretty much chaos until the last balloon popped on the small dance floor around 1:30 a.m.
It got pretty crazy at the Downtown Holiday Inn too during the time when the Hotel had three or four bands playing. It was THE place to be on New Year’s Eve. Thousands showed up.
One year, with Mogen’s Heroes, we were playing the Starlight Room on the top floor. At the end of the night the elevators malfunctioned and hordes of drunk people had to take the stairs which were packed with other drunks. The stairwell was soaked and slippery from spilled beverages and other liquids apparently deposited by those same drunks who had no access to a bathroom. It was disgusting..and the last straw for the Holiday Inn which brought a halt to the hotel mega-parties after that.
The trouble with New Year’s Eve is that it occurs during the winter and even though some of the best paying jobs were out of town, there was always the chance of bad weather and I’ve ushered-in many a New Year on the edge of my car seat trying to make it to or from a dance job.
There were lots of white knuckle trips in heavy snow ( Brookings, Pukwana, Mitchell) Glare ice (Huron, Watertown, Worthington) and dense fog. (Watertown, Kimball, Brookings)
I do have to admit, though, that I sometimes miss being up there on stage playing for all those fun-loving folks, using my watch for the midnight countdown and singing Auld Lang Syne followed by hopeful cheers and a few kisses from the ladies for the drummer.
These days, my drums sit quietly under a cover of blankets in the garage. My way-too-small tuxido hangs in the back of the closet.
The idea of going to a noisy smoke filled bar just doesn’t have the same appeal as it used to.
Instead, Linda and I are looking forward to having a couple friends over and hope we can make a few games of Apples to Apples stretch until midnight without falling asleep. Happy New Year!

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