Debate: Is going out on New Year's Eve a waste of time and money?

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Triple price taxis that you can't find for love nor money, getting your best dress doused in red wine, throwing up with strangers - the Big Night Of The Year is one that Hero Brown is going to opt out of. Pooper, says Trevor French; this is the one night when everybody is out for a good time and that's what makes it unmissable

New Year's Eve is a huge con which rarely lives up to our expectations, says Hero Brown.

I can categorically promise that there is no way I am going out on New Year's Eve. Instead, I intend to escape the horror that is 31 December entirely by ignoring the whole event. My only resolution on New Year's Eve this year is that on no account shall I be tricked, cajoled or shamed into sweaty-palmed renditions of "Auld Lang Syne", drinking races, and a prolonged relationship with the toilet bowl at the end of the night.

If you're one of the sociable majority who enjoy flicking water at each other in the Trafalgar Square fountain, flinging your arms around strangers and standing on city corners for hours trying to flag taxis, more power to you. No doubt you will think my own modest plans rather pathetic and miserable.

I should defend myself by saying that I'm usually very sociable. And I've made my anti-New Year's Eve decision from experience. Honest, I've tried it your way too - everything from boozing down the local and black tie balls, to huge dance parties, private dinners and country cottages.

I'd be lying if I said none of these parties turned out to be a good laugh; but equally, most of them were more hassle than they were worth. I have visions of myself even now, standing in a snaking two-hour queue in the freezing cold, waiting to be let into a pounds 50 dance party in Nottingham, hair stiff with frost, my friends tetchy and frustrated and all of us wondering if we were about to celebrate midnight out in the parking lot.

I remember New Year's Eve New Zealand-style, stuck in a wildly expensive rented house in the middle of a week-long howling hurricane. The national news warned us not to even step outside, while I watched my beloved Karmann Ghia sink further into the mud.

I remember last year's attempt, spending a fortune on getting lost around the A40 in a taxi from central London - meter ticking like a financial time bomb - trying to find a New Year's Eve underground warehouse party. My friend from Argentina had just arrived in the country and I desperately wanted it to be a good night for everyone. Luckily, we found the venue and it turned out to be a great party. Given how much we paid for the pleasure, it had to be.

And that's the problem with New Year's Eve - it's such a financial and emotional con. We invest so much in it that our ethusiasm becomes merely a cover for panic - we're made to feel that we'll miss out on life if we opt out. I've met so many people who would love to ignore the whole farce but feel under pressure to "join in".

Well, not me. I'm out of the loop and happier for it. And really, the benefits are endless. No longer will I mentally flagellate myself that, while each New Year goes by, my resolutions remain stubbornly circa 1982; nor will I angst that, if I do decide to make some resolutions (less food, more exercise, purer thoughts etc.) I will get plastered and break them all on the same night I pledged them.

What's more, I know that my favourite dress will not be doused in red wine and, later, badly dry-cleaned; that I'll wake up next morning feeling physically good about the New Year for once; and that I won't lose a fortune paying miserable cabbies and greedy promoters.

And who knows, if I'm really lucky, I'll save so much money this year that, when the time comes to party like it's 1999, you won't see me for dust.

Until you've danced to the house mix of "Auld Lang Syne", you haven't really done New Year, says Trevor French.

There's some ugly talk around at the moment. Things like: "Quiet New Year with the family", and "Just a few friends round for dinner and telly". Come on! We did our hideous home-bound family penance at Christmas, and we deserve some seriously unhinged wickedness. And that means a club party.

This is the one night of the year when dance clubs make a big effort: longer opening (9pm to 9am, say), acres of camp decorations, a terminally naff cabaret at about 2am by some long-forgotten Seventies one-hit wonders, perhaps a name DJ. But what makes it special is that there isn't a soul there with any intention other than to have a riotously good time. The night can't fail. OK, it's hot, smoky, loud, and crammed - but that's how it should be. And if you've chosen your usual club - which you should - you'll meet plenty of mates and can choose exactly the company you want.

Any New Year party is better than staying in, but only a club has it all. I've tried the pub, but drunk people are not attractive and lack stamina, and the post-chimes chuck-out is the ultimate downer. Fancy-dress ball? Could be fun for a while, but it's cheesy, posey and too much effort. Private do? The music will be dreadful, and - horrors - you might know everyone.

No, it's got to be a club. For me, any club night is a thing of infinite possibility, even more so at New Year. I've got 12 hours to make into anything I want, from intimate conversations with total strangers to hitching a ride on everyone else's pumping dance-floor buzz. And there's no Cinderella time - as likely as not I'll end up the next day at what is laughingly called a chill-out, where things just carry on as before.

One year - God knows why - some of us decided on a grown-up New Year at home; dinner, bongs on the telly, and so on. Granted, there was some sneering pleasure to be had mocking the sad jollity and dress sense of the Trafalgar Square and Princes Street mobs, but it was all terribly flat. Our body clocks told us that all over London the party was just starting, and all we had achieved was exactly the wrong state of incomplete inebriation. At 12.05 a small fleet of cars was tearing round the West End, occupants trying desperately to blag their way into something - anything. We managed it at about 4am - New Year rescued.

OK, a club New Year isn't for everyone. Granny wouldn't like it, but Mum and Dad might enjoy a boogie to Cher (the disco mix) before things get serious - order their taxi for, say, 2am. You don't need to be young and single; various intoxicants and a silly outfit from Cyberdog take care of the former, and you can forget your coupledom just for this night. No one will remember what happens, anyway.

A club party night is an end not a beginning, all about closing the Old Year rather than welcoming a new one. You'll wrap up 1998 in a 12-hour riot of sensory overload, and then leave it behind as you emerge blinking into 1999 - totally trashed, blitzed and out of it, but strangely cleansed, a blank slate on which the New Year can begin writing its fortunes. Until you've heard "Auld Lang Syne" in a house mix at 140 beats a minute, you haven't really done New Year.