1-01-08 (3:00 AM) Rebirth Brass Band – B.B. King’s

We raced down the subway steps and hopped on the 1 train to Times Square. Chris was nervous that our trip would take a long time, but I assured him that it would be nice and easy. Then again, if I was leading you at that time, I could understand why you’d be a little scared. Chris and Ashley were excited to see Times Square, but they weren’t quite ready to see it so empty, not realizing that the place clears out by 12:25.

We went downstairs at B.B.’s and saw that the coat check and box office were closed. The goon at the door asked for our tickets, which we naturally did not have. He then said it cost $31. I thought this was a really odd number, especially since they were selling heavily discounted tickets earlier, and there was no box office now. I was about to pay him, when Ashley said, “That doesn’t make any sense. What if we give you $20 each?”

“Deal.”

I was very impressed with Ashley. She may be from San Francisco, but she was haggling like a true New Yorker. Later I realized that this guy at the door was probably pocketing all of the cash. Oh, well.

The scene inside was a total zoo. It was so surreal to move from an uptown, hard-rockin’ pit of chaos into a midtown funky pen of insanity, but that’s exactly what we did. We dropped our coats, figuring they’d inevitably be trampled at some point, and went right out on to the floor. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a Rebirth show I didn’t enjoy, but this was probably the most fun I’ve ever had at one of their gigs. Within seconds, we found our contingent of NYC-Freaks, and the party was on. Rebirth was scorching hot. These cats were on fire, and every song they played for a solid 90 minutes sounded like it was the grand finale. It was major hit after major hit, and each one kept topping the previous number. The energy was bursting through the roof. Just like at the Beacon, there was a host of debris all over the floor, and I kept hearing bottles breaking, but no one seemed to care. Everyone was just having too much fun to worry about broken glass.

Rebirth ended, and our freaks huddled together, trying to figure out where to go next. The P.A. system was playing some Meters tunes, so we all just started dancing again. Every time a song would fade down, people would go grab their coats, but then another funk classic would begin, the coats would get dropped, and it was once again time to dance. This sequence continued for about ten minutes until I was the only one left dancing, so I grooved my way up the steps and out the door. It seemed as though we were all going to gather at the site of the infamous late night danceparty, so a big group of us shuffled down the street. At this point, it was around 4:30 AM, and outside of the cops, I don’t think there was a single sober person on 42nd Street. It was a hilarious scene.

We made it to the apartment building, and a large group piled into one elevator. I knew that we couldn’t all fit, but everyone kept pleading to squeeze more people in. I thought, “This is a really bad idea,” and then I naturally ignored my instincts and crammed myself in with everyone else. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the last one, as the crowd chanted for Craemer, yes THAT Craemer, to join us. He didn’t want to do it, but the peer pressure was too great, so he followed suit and jumped in. By now, the elevator doors had been open for far too long, and they automatically closed. The elevator tried to go up, but we were too heavy. Then someone jumped, and it felt like we had somehow gotten off balance. Suddenly, we weren’t moving at all.

Oh, yes. There were 15 people, none of whom were sober, all wearing winter coats, pressed up against each other, trapped in an elevator at 4:45 in the morning on New Year’s Day. If I could possibly imagine one place I did not want to be at this time under these circumstances, this was it. Our host rang the alarm on the elevator, but the front desk attendant wasn’t paying attention. He then called the front desk and explained that we were stuck. After nothing happened for five minutes, he called again, and the same guy at the front desk acted as if our predicament was news to him. This scenario continued for several minutes like a bad Marx Brothers routine, as our host attempted to explain to the attendant that in order to free us, he would actually have to walk over to the elevator. Realizing that the attendant was not going to ever be admitted into Mensa, a call to 9-1-1 was reluctantly placed. Then there was a lengthy delay before anyone arrived because New Year’s Day is one of the busiest times for emergency personnel. Apparently, people tend to do stupid things at this time of year. Imagine that.

Amazingly, everyone in the elevator kept it together. This could have been a torturous situation. It’s one thing to be trapped in an elevator, but it’s another to be crushed in with 14 other people who are far from sober. At any point, someone could have gotten sick, had to pee, or started to smell. I did want to take off my jacket, but since I was wearing a rather sleazy vintage New Year’s outfit, I was concerned that one of the ladies might pass out at the sight of my incredibly sexy chest hair. Somehow, we remained in great spirits, aside from a couple of the guys who thought that pounding on the door would somehow solve the problem (nice one, Craemer!). There was also a woman behind me who was not part of our cadre and therefore felt free to bitch up a storm. I couldn’t really turn my head around to see her, and honestly, that was probably a good thing. Nevertheless, we kept the negativity to a minimum for the twenty-five or so minutes while we were stuck. The fire department showed up and pried the door open, and as our gang of idiots poured out of the elevator, the look on the firemen’s faces seemed to indicate that they had already done this 36 times that morning.

After that harrowing experience, would we all go home? Hell, no! We needed to party, and that’s exactly what we did. The tunes came on, and we all grooved for the next three hours. Eventually, the crowd started to thin, and by 8:30, there were only four of us left. It was at this point where I finally sat down, and realized that aside from a brief minute when I leaned up against a seat at the Beacon, this was the first time I had gotten off my feet in over twelve hours. The dancing machine known as Brian Ferdman had finally ground to a halt. My legs felt brittle, and as I saw storm clouds rolling in from the east, I decided to leave. I threw on my red-tinted shades and headed out into the world. I grabbed a cab home, beat the rain, and was in bed by 9:30AM.

My New Year’s Eve was everything I could have hoped for and more. It was truly an epic event and made for one hell of an ending to 2007 and one phenomenal beginning for 2008.

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