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Vintage Musings about New Year's Eve and Dropping the Ball of Fun

Vintage Musings about New Year's Eve and Dropping the Ball of Fun


New Year's Eve makes me feel like there's something wrong with me.  Every year it hits me - maybe I'm not fun, not wild, not crazy enough, just not enough. I mean, I think I'm really fun - I definitely have fun, I love champagne, I love getting dressed up, I'm romantic...but when New Year's Eve rolls around, I start to question my place on the life of the party fun scale.



Modern social media is filled with ordinary people who look like celebrities at star studded parties. But, even in these vintage images, everyone looks like they are the happiest people on earth - their friends are the greatest, their dates are the dreamiest, and their party is the best party - ever. (I have never danced on a table - does that make me boring)?



Yes, even in the vintage photos of New Year's eves past, the couples are playful, jolly, full of whimsy and/or movie worthy romance. And, of course, they are having so much FUN!



They all have party hats, streamers, balloons, poppers and usually glasses of bubbly - FUN right? My husband and I have been to parties that have all of the bells and whistles, but usually, only a few people actually blow the blowers and I'm one of a few women in the room willing to ruin my flat ironed hair with a party hat. 



Maybe if I was with fellow party goers like Halston, Andy Warhol, Bianca Jagger and Liza Minelli I would at least appear like I was fun enough. 



Maybe if I had been a party goer in the 60's I would have had this photo on instagram of women dancing in a giant champagne glass! Or better yet, maybe I would be dancing in a giant champagne glass? I don't know - it looks really cold.. 



Okay, when it comes to fashion, I definitely can compete with these girls - I have vintage dresses from every decade of the 20th century so I can bring some formal glamour to any New Year's Eve party - but no one really dresses in black tie anymore. Parties today are usually filled with women wearing short, blingy club/party dresses - so I would stand out like a sore thumb in a full length vintage gown.  I might look elegant, but definitely not fun.



If you browse through images of vintage New Year cards and photographs from the late 1800's and early 1900's, you'll find that they are much different from those starting the the late teens and early 20's.  Instead of fun parties, the earlier images depict a lot of children, angels, and animals. 



Even this killer bee brings the new year to these unfortunate children! And in the card below..Happy New Year from the Mushrooms..?



There are also countless images of various interpretations of Father Time - some of my favorites!



So when did New Year's eve become the measuring standard of fun for the entire world?  I blame it on the New York Times.



Believe it or not, before the New York times built its impressive Times Tower at  Broadway and 42nd Street, New Year's eve in Manhattan was celebrated in of all places...a church.   But in 1904, to promote its new building, the Times planned an all-day street festival ending in a fireworks display that would be set off from the base of the tower itself. 200,000 people attended that event.  Though the fireworks were a huge success, two years later,  they were banned by the city, so they were replaced with an illuminated 700 lb iron and wood ball that would be lowered from the tower flagpole precisely at midnight to signal the end of the old and beginning of the new year.


The first ball dropped in Times Square The first ball dropped in Times Square


The lights from the ball dropping at the first drop in New York City
The lights from the ball dropping at the first drop in New York City


Now, I have to admit, celebrating New Year's Eve in a church isn't my idea of a fun New Year's celebration, and puppies and kittens, though adorable, aren't anyone's idea of a wild party. But, once that ball dropped, and the world saw the photos of the world's biggest party, the fun standard exploded in the opposite direction.


New Year's Eve in New York's Time Square in the 1930's
New Year's Eve in New York's Time Square in the 1930's

All of a sudden, the puppies, little angels, children, Father Time and little mushrooms were replaced with cheesecake images of young women bringing in the New year decked out in bubbles and posing in front of clocks. Now, don't send angry letters, I subscribe to and love the Times and blaming them is more symbolic than anything.  I guess the blame belongs on all of us who are willing to allow images, movies and the "shoulds" of the world to dictate how we dress, live our lives, fall in love, or celebrate our holidays.  (But truthfully, wouldn't everyone love to wear a balloon dress just once)?



Today, instead of defining for ourselves what fun means to us, now we sometimes allow ourselves to succumb to the pressure of having the "right kind" of fun.  It doesn't happen organically or naturally anymore, we carefully orchestrate our fun by imagining the photos or instagram pics an experience will create.  We are more concerned about the appearance of fun than the actual fun itself.  Or maybe it's just me..



Don't get me wrong, I love all of these vintage New Year's Eve photos - I might even be a little obsessed with them..But I don't want any vintage or modern images, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, celebrity reality tv show, or a little party thrown by the NY Times to make me feel that my life or yours isn't enough.



So, though my New Year's Eve celebration might look more subdued this year, like this photo, (there probably won't be any party blowers), I will be bring in 2015 with the person I want to be with, wear what I want to wear, have champagne and yes..have fun! I wish the same for each and every one of you!  

Have a VERY Happy New Year!

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