Twenty Five New Years
It surprises me that I did nothing in 1990 - my HSC year - but I was a sheltered home-body back then and nothing much changed till I went to uni. I confirmed this by looking back at my old diary entry from 31 December 1990 and I just did what a nerd who can fill his own time did. One interesting line is a sort of 'resolution' which read thus:
I stick to my plan of constant occupation of time with... fun, interesting, useful or necessary things... as determined by myself and the changing world..
I cannot say that much has changed in a quarter century but then with something as general as that how can you falter? Anyway here I go with commentary on each year...
By the end of 1991 I had a bunch of new uni friends so I find it odd that the first NYE I went to was the backyard party of a schoolmate. My overwhelming memory of it is that I was kinda bored. I had gone there with a close friend so we had company but more was needed to compensate for the predominance of pedestrian conversation and the pushing of beer onto every guest. I think I may have compromised and accepted a wine cooler. Entertainment technology has vastly improved since then and I recall the host playing the best of Cold Chisel in endless loop. Possibly that is all they had. Someone declared that to be a true Aussie you had to like Chisel. It took me something like a decade to get over my aversion to them because of that night. I now think they do some classic tunes (particularly the ones written by Mossy).
This time I had fun. A friend who lived in Somers at the time hosted a sleep-over for a smallish number of Korner friends. I cannot remember much but do recall walks to the lovely beach there. There was also some home-made dinner and good conversation. It was small and nice but I think I prefer something a bit more jumping and so we move on.
I went to a large and crowded Korner party held at a share household on Stockdale Avenue close to Monash Uni. This was more what the youthful me had imagined NYE was supposed to be like. I remember enjoying the party despite the fact it was dominated by friends and acquaintances older than me. They did get a whole lot more drunk than I did but I think this is a continuing theme in much of my life - I get to be the one who remembers all the silly things you said and did.
I think I may have made a token visit to a Korner party at First Street in Clayton but then went to a sleep-over in the Ashburton area. A friend was house-sitting there and invited a small group that then called ourselves 'Us' along. It was fun and I vaguely remember things like listening to Meat Loaf albums and watching Red Dwarf. A very similar gathering in the same house happened 12 months later. These were relatively sedate gatherings and I suspect we went to bed shortly after Midnight.
This year I was back to a big Korner party and once more it was held at the same Stockdale Avenue share house. It was a fun night and was made even better because a small group of us walked to another house - Animal Farm - for a rest from the crowd while sitting in a spa. By the time we got back to the big party it was after Midnight but we just re-wound our watches a bit and hugged friends anyways.
The thing with Korner is it has never been one thing. It draws on different Monash Uni interest groups and cuts across many generations. As a result there is sometimes more than one party and at times I decided to go to them all. So I started the night at something hosted in Ashburton and I had been prepared for a two-party night because I'd pre-booked a taxi the day before. If I was having fun there well stuff it! I had a taxi to meet and it took me onto the other party held at a house I would later live in - Currajong Street back closer to Monash.
On getting to Currajong Street I got the distinct impression that the party was in full-swing. It was a hot night and many guests were hanging around the driveway. One of them drunkenly snogged me which was very surprising. I was sober and so diverted our activity into dancing inside to a song I particularly liked. From there I made my escape and into chatting with others. Friends have since discovered that cracking onto me while they are sober is more likely to get them what they want. But despite an absence of things that could have been I still had a fun night.
Once more I started at a party at the same house in Ashburton. I think I can remember annoying others there by having the temerity to play Never Ending Story by Limahl on the stereo. That group have a problem with things that are overtly positive and hopeful and childishly fun. It is one of the ways in which I have never entirely fit and why I have always cultivated other friends too.
That night I also had another party to go to but it was one hosted by a disparate friend – someone who I knew independent of any friendship groups and who had recently moved to Brunswick. I got public transport there and it took longer than intended. In fact I got stuck sitting in a train carriage at Flinders Street Station as the bells tolled Midnight (I cannot remember if there were bells but that seems poetic). There were crowds both inside and on the platform all cheering and wishing the world a happy New Year. Many were drunk but they were cheerful drunks and it was something I'm happy to have experienced (once).
I got to the next party set in an apartment in a converted warehouse. It had some excellent fixtures including a lovely steel spiral staircase. The party was smallish but had a good vibe. However I was a stranger to everyone but the hosts. My friend very quickly told me ‘you will have to dance now’ and that's exactly what I did. Interactions with strangers are fine if you have some non-verbal common activity and I remember amusedly watching some of the guests mock-flirting while singing along to Outside by George Michael. As things got slower there was some conversation and eventually it was Dawn and I could get public transport home.
There was only one Korner party in 1999 because a well-connected person decided to throw a huge one. He hired the Oakleigh Masonic Hall and purchased a bunch of second-hand lounge settings to define half the hall as a 'chilling space' while the other half was a dance floor. This was my first encounter with a computer substituting for a stereo. However there was also a live band - some friends who often rehearsed but had never performed. And there was catering. It was a big old night and to this day one of the best I remember just for dancing and chatting and seeing lots of familiar faces. I also got to become a 'furniture delivery fairy' the following day, but that's another story.
This time I think I over-did things by attending three parties. One was a Korner party held in Balaclava and to fit everything in I only was there as guests started to wander in. The next was on Heller Street in Brunswick and I was there with sufficient time to get into a few interesting conversations with 'Us' and others. Finally I went to a party on Strelden Avenue Clayton. Everyone was gathered in the backyard holding alcoholic slushies and I only walked in minutes before the countdown to Midnight. Following that the party spirit started to wane and I suspect that travelling from party-to-party deprives one of time to truly enjoy any one event. I was tired from all the party-hopping and was happy to hit a bed.
My diary tells me I started the evening at a pathetic party in Bettina Street Clayton which I have zero memory of. All I remember is that I went to a party in Clarinda (with a mix of Korner than 'Us') and then went onto another Korner party hosted at Prince Street Clayton. It was a good party house (what with different shared spaces and nice looped patterns of movement in its layout) and so I imagine it was a good party but I cannot say for sure. Remembering a life of partying sure can get difficult even for the mostly-sober.
A big two-storey share house in Glen Waverley hosted a Korner NYE. There was a pool in the backyard and I remember other decent pool parties there featuring games like Marco Polo. On this night however it was surprisingly cool but some of us took a dip anyway (coz dammit we are having a pool party!). I managed to get a few non-Korner friends to come along and so felt as if I got to see more friends than I usually would at one party.
There was a Korner party at Currajong Street and I remember it was pretty good overall. I suspect that looking at old photos would help refresh my memory as to who was there. I think I had a silk shirt at the time. The one thing I definitely remember is that a handful of us went for a walk to the nearby footbridge over Dandenong Road and watched the Sunrise from that vantage. I should try to do that sort of thing more often.
On the afternoon of this day I had been at Monash Uni and found a public notice regarding Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) lying on the ground (rather than in a public bathroom as was intended). I put it in my bag on a whim and later it will return to our story. That night I went to a Currajong Street party and then after a few hours got a lift to another Korner party.
The next one was hosted in Ashwood and once there I went to the toilet and affixed the STI poster (‘Are you spoiled for choice?’) onto the back of the door. It stayed there for ages and it took the hosts months to discover the culprit. In other ways it was a fun night and included the indulgence of 'bulbs' as well as the amusing sharing of 'seconds' as a sly way of initiating snogging. A bit of titillation on NYE is traditional.
Titillation of another kind happened at this party but was an incidental product of the temperature that evening. A Korner party was hosted in Jordanville and it was a stinking hot night. I remember lamenting that it had been cool a few years previously while we had a pool but now it was a sticky one and all we had to cool off on was the lawn of a backyard. A lot of the guests started stripping as if there was a pool and a few guests decided to take it a bit further by flashing each other. Having a pool would have been better.
I started at a party on Shaftsbury Drive in Mulgrave. I just bet there was an alcoholic slushy machine. I'm sure it was fun and may even have still had dancing. Remember dancing? Following that I went onto another Korner party in Pinewood which I imagine was more chatty in nature. That tended to be the way of things - one party would be more dance-oriented and another more chatty. Eventually I went to bed at a home in South Yarra and had a well-rounded night all-in-all.
There was a short-lived share household called The House in Oakleigh and it played host to a big all-in Korner party. I remember it was a long house with a big back yard well-suited to a large gathering. At Midnight there was the usually round of hugs and the odd snogging. One peculiar behaviour was someone who tends to make others standoffish seemed to follow me in my rounds of the crowd like some kind of 'cuckoo for kisses'. As fun as it was I think I was a bit tired of such characters and was happy to try something different next time.
Choral friends had been organizing a 'Beach Trip' (set between Boxing Day and New Year's Day) and I had visited these in 2006 (for a night) and 2007 (for a few nights) but 2008 was the first time I went and never managed to come back to the suburbs for NYE. It just seemed simpler and nicer to stay at what was called 'Beach Trip Of Beds For All' in a hired dorm house in Rosebud a short walk from the beach. Extra friends and acquaintances visited on the night for a BBQ dinner and there was singing and dancing and welcoming in the New Year on the beach (complete with other groups in the mid-distance setting off fireworks).
Hiring houses to accommodate big groups can be pricey so the Beach Trip I stayed at for NYE was in a bunch of tents at the Rosebud foreshore camping reserve. It was a mixed experience and there were big storms on NYE itself. Nonetheless there was good company to be had and I do enjoy the convenience of having suburbia and shops right by the beach like they are there.
The Beach Trip this year was over the other side of Port Phillip Bay and I did visit it for one afternoon. However I spent most of my time at a different gathering of choral friends on Western Port Bay. We had a small collection of tents in a camping area close to Balnarring Beach. We had a pretty lazy time which included some skinny dipping one night that was rudely interrupted by a young seal. NYE itself was fun but tiring. I recall that an inflated mattress is as good as a bed once you are exhausted from having fun.
Both these years there was a Beach Trip at Stony Point in a mix of tents and hired cabins. I discussed these Summer Holidays in another blog post at the time. That was the last occasion to date that I have camped in tents.
And then there was just one more Beach Trip - the tenth for those who had gone to all of them - and it was in a rather lovely holiday house and auxiliary cabin back in Rosebud. There were lots of fun and lazy things to do and one thing I think I miss is just hanging in a living room reading a book as various friends do other things or come-and-go on different sojourns. We had a lovely time and this included the obligatory walk to the beach to welcome in the New Year.
This time I was back to attending one-date NYE celebrations in suburbia but was still spending it with choral friends. There was a party in Kooyong (at the same house that hosts my current role-play game). I helped with party preparation and some barbecuing. It was a night of good finger foods and raucous chatting. I'm on the same railway line so I even got to make my own way home now that the state government gives us all-night public transport on 1 January.
Finally we come to the twenty fifth NYE celebration I've attended, and it was a good one. It was also a house-warming and a pool party. I got to engage in a favourite hobby by providing the hosts with a big playlist they could pipe over an excellent internal set of house speakers. And I also got to swim. Well sort of. There were so many guests and so many kids that it was difficult at times to move safely in the water. Still it was a hot day and the water was wonderfully refreshing. The house itself was charmingly kitsch but also well-fixtured for a party. I made some barbecue mushroom burgers to share. Later I snacked on grapes at the poolside. There was chatting and choral singing and a good time seemed to be had by all.
* * * * *
There is a lot of continuity here and so there should be. Since 1991 nothing much has changed. Humans still like to get together for a party and the kind of things they enjoy tend to be the same. Technology has only made small differences to what we do together and we still cannot take our smartphones into a busy swimming pool. If I have changed it is in better understanding how to pace things and to focus on what I enjoy. If there is a lull in that enjoyment I'm better now at just sitting back for a bit and watching the party go by.
Following a lot of the experience recorded herein you tire of having to accommodate every invite and be with everyone. Also during the Festive Season you get plenty of other chances to spend with various friends. And finally there is nothing fundamentally important in the last day of December. It is just an excuse for a good party and you can aim to have those all-year-round.
Labels: Nostalgia And Reminiscences