Thursday, 1 January 2009

Some of us work New Years Eve...



The show usually runs from 8pm until about 10.30pm, but tonight things would be a little more complicated. We'd do the first half, then there would be a two hour interval, during which other attractions (cocktail barman, singer, one-man-band) would play, then we would resume at exactly 10.55, with the show ending just before midnight so we can all do the big countdown. In any other country except perhaps China, this wouldn't stand a chance of working, but of course here in Germany - without wishing to make any generalisations about the country, it pretty much happened as planned, with the last act going on at exactly the time they were supposed to - to the second.

So at ten to midnight we all stood awkwardly on stage with a glass of champagne, waiting for what seemed like an eternity for midnight to finally arrive, did the countdown and then got obliterated by the huge and awesome pyrotechnics that Mark the tech man had rigged up. Confetti rained down, and massive roman candles spewed their celebratory spectacle from both sides of the stage. Even better, somehow, we all escaped first-degree burns. I may be over dramatising this.

After staying on stage for exactly the amount of time that we would be professionally expected to, and not a minute longer, we hurried upstairs to get warm clothing and hats because Hakan (brilliant breakdancer and possessor of the dryest wit ever to grace a German Turk) had bought - yes! Fireworks!

We gathered outside the theatre and watched as various things whooshed, fizzed and banged. Including, at one point, the traditional new years crazy stranger, who offered to hold a rocket as it was lit and let it take off from his hand as opposed to the usual bottle. He did this three times, quietly proud of his macho-ness. Later Dave brought my attention to the fact that he was clearly nursing a sore hand surreptitiously under his jacket . Hand burned, but reputation assured.

Fireworks finished and Hakan thanked and applauded, and we all hurried back upstairs to change again, as the breakdancers were doing a gig in the Bahlia club, the nightclub in the basement of the theatre. So, off we all went to the club, which is - obviously - a completely hellish place. We watched the boys perform, and they predictably tore the house down. As they finished, one of the many affectionate female fans had stolen Hakan's tie and was wearing it around her neck and refusing to give it back. Eventually he got it, but it was touch and go there for a minute. Concerned, we were.

Un-charmed by the club, Tamara, Dave and me drifted back upstairs to the theatre. There's a big sofa used in the show, so we rolled it on stage and sat in it. Nice. Then Tamara went and got us some food from the kitchen. Even nicer. Finally, in dribs and drabs, everyone else arrived on stage too and we hung out there for a while, which was very lovely.

Taty found out that it was Dave and Tamara's wedding anniversary tomorrow - which was technically today by now - and tottered over to wish them "Happy university!", before glaring at me when I giggled. People kept producing more bottles of champagne, and the room kept getting shinier in my head, until it was decided to go back down to the club in the hope that it had emptied out a bit.

It had, so we commandeered a booth and drank more as the dull thumping of what passes for music in German nightclubs repeatedly poked us in the temple. Did that sound middle-aged enough? Good, one has to practice these things.

On a big table, along one wall, was a huge vat of soup, complete with bread, bowls and spoons. People were eating it. Soup. At a nightclub. I'm not a big nightclub goer, but is this a thing these days. Has soup replaced class A drugs and vodka/RedBulls?

Over on the dancefloor, Taty was dancing. I'm not sure the word dancing really covers it. Wearing snowman deely-boppers with a helium balloon tied to one them, she was applying the famous Eastern European selfless work ethic and thrashing about like one of the firecrackers Hakan was throwing into the street a couple of hours earlier. She was dancing as if she had to complete a certain number of movements per minute or her family would be killed. She was, as I believe the kids say, going for it. Never get in the way of a Ukranian when fun is in the offing, you'll be mowed down without a thought.

By this time the club was starting to grate a little, and I felt that the nicest parts of the evening were behind me, so I said my goodbyes and headed upstairs to my apartment. Slumped on sofa with a packet of paprika crisps, I turned on the TV just in time to see the great Richard Quest recap London's New Year celebrations for CNN. I giggle drunkenly to myself as Richard sings Auld Lang Syne while linking arms with a solitary anoraked technician, while my city glitters behind him.

Happy new year.