Leading Article: We should reclaim our streets more than once in every millennium

TOMORROW, HUMANITY will greet the dawn of a new year, a new century and a new millennium with "The Dance of the Buttocks", a traditional number that will be performed in grass skirts on the most remote coral atoll in the Pacific Ocean micro-state of Kiribati. The dancers will perform for their president and, by live satellite feed, for millions of television viewers across the world.

We look forward to their turn. On these small islands, the time has long passed when we could mark important occasions with such a simple gesture. However, dancing buttocks or not, most of us are still intending to have a good time, whether with family, friends or strangers. And for those wanting to see in the new millennium in style there are plenty of festivities to choose from, as befits the home of the Greenwich meridian.

We are not thinking here of things down at the Dome. It is churlish, but irresistible, to point out that many who visited the Dome's "dress rehearsal" before Christmas came away a bit bored. The bulk of the Dome's exhibits retain that worthy but dull, didactic, you-will-be-educated-whether- you-like-it-or-not, New Labourish air that many critics dreaded from the beginning. And while the Dome might pass as a tolerably good science museum or an updated version of the 1951 Festival of Britain, those vast sums of money clearly were not devoted to fun.

It is also hard not to smirk at the news that all the hotels, nightclubs, pubs and restaurants that rushed to exploit people's desire to celebrate are now rushing to drop their prices - that is, if they have not cancelled their events altogether. Rather encouragingly, it appears that people are spurning such over-priced and over-hyped events in favour of a night with those closest to them, whether at home, at a street party or just roving around the village, town or city centre.

Look at the events that are proving attractive: they all seem to allow people in this disparate nation to join together for a few hours of celebration. Of course the Scots always celebrate New Year in style, but even by their standards Edinburgh's seven-day festival promises to be a Hogmanay to remember. Birmingham's Party of the Millennium in Centenary Square (pounds 6 a head), featuring the legendary Roy Wood, is a sell-out. Leeds will be transformed into a city of lights. Belfast will be one great big jazz club. Some 40,000 will throng Manchester's music festival. And central London will become a traffic-free zone so that as many people as possible can enjoy the spectacle of the Thames "on fire" and the unveiling of the London Eye ferris wheel on the South Bank opposite Whitehall, to say nothing of the free concerts and fun fairs.

So, if these events are a success then why not enjoy them - or something like them - every year? They provide communities with a sense of shared experience - a rare commodity these days. Ban the cars and lorries, and give our streets back to the people for just one day. We need to be tempted to turn off the television and reminded that we live together, not just as atomised individuals. Belfast, Manchester, London and the rest are "venues" far more spectacular than anything to be found under the Dome or in a nightclub. And who knows, by the next millennium we might even rediscover our own community, like those revellers in Kiribati?

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn