January 6th, 2010
New Year's Eve celebration (called First Night ) in Burlington Vermont rocks! If you haven't been to a First Night in Burlington yet, keep it in mind to check it out next year. This year was the 27th year Burlington's First Night has been celebrated and it was better than ever. Where else can you pay $15 to get into so many, many venues? Okay, a few of the choice concerts at the Flynn Theater added $3 more to the night per person per event but it's laughable how much fun can be had for such a modest outlay.
For a brief history, First Night originated in Boston Massachusetts in 1976 by a small group of artists who sought an alternative way of celebrating New Year's Eve, creating an event where the consumption of alcohol is banned. First Night is an indoor/outdoor artistic and cultural celebration which occurs from afternoon until midnight. The intention of First Night is to celebrate that community's local cultures often showcasing music, dance, art, comedy, parades and fireworks.
This year's relatively mild weather brought out lots of revelers. Snow covered streets, sparkling Christmas lights twinkling on Church Street, smiles on passersby scurrying to their next event while chatting up what they had just witnessed created an energy of joy and community. You just couldn't help but feel it. All events are suited to young ones and the young at heart too. There truly is something for everyone.
This year my gang and I saw an amazing comedy act from a guy from Hardwick. Hardwick? Hello! This fellow was a former Cirkus Smirkus clown. He was wonderful. His act was really funny as he involved members of the audience from little kids to a coupla dads in his acts. Charming and hilarious with a bit of daring, he received a standing ovation.
From there we went down to the Flynn Space to hear Gregory Douglass. Unfortunately, the sound wasn't great and it was hard to hear him so that felt a little disappointing.
Next, we popped into Ali Baba's Kabob Shop for some felafel to take the edge off our hunger. The place was jam packed and the food was absolutely yummy.
Onward, we went to the Main Stage at the Flynn Theater to watch Kilamanjaro and the Unknown Blues Band with Sondra Wright kick it into high gear. Once that swing beat locked in, my sweetheart and I could contain ourselves any more and we danced five smokin' songs in the aisles. How much fun is that?
Hot and sweaty, we left the Flynn to take a Brazilian dance lesson with Sambudacada drummers who wrought their wild South American beat upon us. I was dripping. It was so much fun to see so many smiling faces, young and old side by side, all having such a great time.
Last, we wandered back into the refreshing cold air to ready ourselves to hear the Bluegrass Gospel Project. This group is amazing. Guitar, mandolin, bass, banjo, harmonizing vocals and a female lead singer with an alto voice as sweet as honey. She and they were so phenomenal it was hard to believe and they received two standing ovations. There were some folks behind me from Los Angeles California who were in utter disbelief at how great this band sounded.
All in all, we had tuckered ourselves out, felt satiated and ready to head home. But what a great way to have rung in 2010! Great memories. Ran into lots of familiar faces throughout the afternoon and evening. And best of all, no hangover to start the New Year.
Take my advice. Give First Night in Burlington Vermont a try next year (First Night buttons make great stocking stuffers). Dress warmly and in layers. You won't regret it one bit.