New Years in New York. It's the stuff of bucket lists and dreams and we are so lucky to be here. We've pinched ourselves a few times on this trip - it's the culmination of a redundancy, some saving and a year of detailed planning and I think we've thought it so often that actually living it feels a little surreal.
New Years Eve is our first day in New York so we've crammed so much into the day. Including a blow out for moi in a lovely salon on the 38th floor of some building which lasted all of 5 hours until the rain arrived. But more on that later.
We had planned to go to a performance of the Radio City Rockettes and dinner at a New York steak house but nothing specifically planned for The Countdown and Ball Drop. To get into Times Square, you either have to purchase a ticket to an official party in the vicinity or join the public. If you choose the latter option, you need to be in situ in Times Square around 3pm, have no bags, no booze and there are no bathroom facilities.....and once you're in you can't come back out.
We looked at purchasing tickets to somewhere however to get somewhere with a ball drop view meant forking out around $US1200 each minimum and we decided we could spend that money elsewhere. Like 5th avenue....
After an exploratory walk of the immediate vicinity to our hotel, we put our nice clothes on and trolloped off to Radio City Music Hall. It's a beautiful Art Deco theatre that seats 6201 - specifically that number so that the owner could claim to have the largest theatre in New York at that time. We were there to watch the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular and spectacular is exactly what it was. A perfectly synchronised high kicking, tap dancing, twirling chorus line. It is possibly one of the most polished performances we've seen and included some stunning stage sets, fabulous lighting and a 4D feature. Should anyone be in New York whilst this is on, then definitely include this in your itinerary.
The theatre itself is utterly beautiful - grand, lavish, majestic - all the superlatives you can imagine. It's part of the Rockefeller Centre and was, at the time of opening, the largest theatre in the world. My favourite part though was the meticulous preservation of all the Art Deco features: the three level high mirrors, the marble drinking fountains set into the wall, the absolutely beautiful bathrooms and a symmetrical stage which was the Napier Sound Stage on steroids.
Leaving the theatre we were greeted by New York rain. This is a different kind of rain to what we're used to - heavy and steady describes it best. The rain was coming down in saturating quantities and with no break. To assist you in imagining this rain, I immediately panicked and covered my newly professionally blow dried hair with my Hudson Bay scarf which is a heavy wool scarf. This was thoroughly soaked within 10 minutes and my blow dry was duly ruined. New York however must be used to this type of rain as there was very little surface flooding.
During the day, we had noticed a steady build up of cops and so we figured we should leave for dinner maybe sooner than we had planned. Our reservation was for a restaurant 500m from our hotel and not within the Times Square cordon but the security cordon was being moved by the minute as the crowd volume grew. So, walking the 500m from the hotel to dinner, ended up taking us over half an hour and required us to go through 8 (that's Eight) security checks. All whilst the rain continued unabated. We duly arrived at dinner looking somewhat similar to drowned rats. However, it was difficult to feel too sorry for ourselves - one of the police officers we spoke to said there were 20,000 police on duty that night in the Times Square vicinity and all were having to stand around in heavy rain and a temperature somewhere around 2 degrees. It's probably the safest New Years Eve we'll ever have.
So we spent our New York New Year's Eve walking the rainy streets of New York and it was wonderful.
Antoine's Content Corner
I think I saw more cops today than if I'd seen the entire police force of Australia in one place.
The Radio City Rockettes have performed at Radio City Music hall since 1933. The original choreographer, Russell Markert, saw a European dance troupe called the Tiller Rockets and was inspired to create an American version or "If I ever got a chance to get a group of American girls who would be taller, have longer legs, could do really complicated tap routines and eye-high kicks, they'd really knock your socks off". To be a Rockette, you need to be between 5'6" and 5'10" tall, have a eye high kick, do your own stage makeup and not allowed to touch each other during a performance. You can see a special Wall Street Journey feature here.