I’ve been promising this for a while, and here it is, or at least Take 1 of it. Here’s a look at what’s going on New Year’s Eve in Downtown Memphis. Since different events appeal to different people, I’ll give my assessment as to who might enjoy each. Venues listed in alphabetical order.
Bardog will open at 11 AM on New Year’s Eve and serve its regular menu until 2 AM (they close at 3). The party will kick off at 5 PM with two hours of happy hour, then continue until close. No cover, bar open to all comers. Their doormen will be in tuxedos, although this is a place where you can feel quite comfortable in jeans.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: People who want to party with the Downtown core neighborhood crowd. It will be wild, but it will be friendly people who know how to party without acting stupid, getting in fights, etc. If I didn’t already have plans (see below) this would likely be my pick.
The annual New Year’s Eve countdown party broadcast on Channel 5. No cover, just stand out on the street, watch the bands at the Pepsi Pavilion if you want, beer or drinks available from restaurant to-go windows.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: People who want to spend absolutely no money and still go to a New Year’s party, and people who want to possibly be seen on TV for a brief second, and who are willing to put up with the cold and an unruly crowd to do it. Otherwise, avoid Beale. Of all the Downtown parties, this gets my vote for the “sucks the most” award.
December 31 is Calhoun’s Sports Bar’s first birthday. I haven’t heard about anything special yet, but I know they’ll be open and will have $1.50 PBR.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: The same people who are in Calhoun’s December 30, January 2, and all the other days of the year; people who like to hang with the South Main locals; people who want to drink PBR for a relatively cheap New Year’s bill. Note: If you’re hungry, eat somewhere else before coming to Calhoun’s (Harry’s Detour across the street is a good call, or see the Majestic Grille below).
Party starts at 8 with a $10 cover for UFO members, $15 for non-members. Champagne and party favors at midnight. As always, 75 beers on draft, and another 120 in bottles. Hot waitresses in miniskirts. Pool, darts.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: People who want to celebrate New Year’s in a very crowded mainstream bar. The Saucer tends to turn into amateur night on New Year’s Eve, full of douchebags who are there to “kick some ass” and “get some pussy.” Downtown regulars avoid the Saucer like the plague on New Year’s Eve.
HOLLYWOOD DISCO (formerly Raiford’s)
$15 cover, champagne at midnight, the usual disco tunes and 40s of beer.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: Anyone with a pulse. Seriously, who doesn’t like Raiford’s? Actually, I better qualify that for the benefit of people who’ve never been. If clubs with fog machines make your allergies act up, this might not be the best bet. Also, it’s a small club, and the music is LOUD. That said, we love the place. A top recommendation.
KOOKY CANUCK (formerly Big Foot Lodge)
$2 Super Cold Coors Light all day (from opening at 11 AM). At 9 the party starts with DJ Tree spinning until 2. Champagne and party favors at midnight. No cover.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: People who’ve been to this restaurant’s parties in the past and had a good time; people who like big, cheap beers. The name may be different, but Shawn and Lana still know how to throw great parties. One of my top recommendations for people who want to have a fun, crazy time, but away from the “amateur night” crowd.
The Majestic will have their regular menu at regular prices with no cover, but Patrick will also whip up a few special dishes to celebrate the evening.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: People who want a sit-down dinner; people who want something more elegant than a crowded bar; people who want to get a good meal then go to a party elsewhere. That’s what my friends and I are doing: We have reservations for 30 at the Majestic for 7:30, then we’re heading to a keg party in South Main. If you like to “get buck” as my friend Johnny Mason likes to say, you may find the Majestic a little too sedate.
Their usual party with several bands playing in various ballrooms on the second floor. I believe the cover is $50 this year. The one year I went, it took 25 minutes to stand in line for drinks and 15 minutes for the men’s room line. Drinks are about 200% of what you’d reasonably expect to pay at a bar. The year I went, my group of friends and I seemed to be the only ones there over 23.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: People who want to spend a lot of money to brag that they were at the supposed “THE place to be” on New Year’s Eve; people who want to ogle barely legals in skimpy cocktail dresses; people who enjoy standing in long lines. In my eyes, second only to Beale Street on my list of parties to avoid.
I haven’t heard exactly what they will be doing, but I know they will be open and plan to throw a big party. More details to come.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS PARTY: This is the Rooster’s first New Year’s Eve, so I have no past record to look back upon. My guess is, if you’ve enjoyed the Rooster on a very crowded Saturday night, you’ll probably like it for New Year’s Eve. See “Flying Saucer” for my best guess as to what the crowd will be like.
That’s my first draft of the NYE list. There are also a few private parties I know about, but the hosts would probably prefer that I not blog about them. Let me know (email@example.com) if there are other parties Downtown that I should add to this list, and I’ll refresh it before the big day. In particular, what will be going on at Earnestine & Hazel’s? I’ll be a hop, skip, and a jump away later in the evening and may stop by.