Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best New Year’s Parties Ever

“Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve.
Middle age is when you’re forced.”
- Bill Vaughn

I’ve been to a lot of parties in my life. None of them even come close to the New Year’s parties at the FOC. Even though only the teenagers (and adults) were allowed to dance at these overnight parties, it was still the coolest party ever.

The parties got started in the evening on New Year’s Eve. I don’t remember what time, exactly, maybe 6:00 or 7:30. And they went strong until six o’clock the next morning. Our church had really talented bands that played fun, upbeat, and sometimes even popular music. Every two hours a different band took to the stage and played. Some bands were made up brothers, some of older men who’d been playing together for years, and some of younger guys in their late teens and twenties.

There were stands out all night with free hot dogs and all the fixings and unlimited fountain drinks. It was the only time of year we could get our hands on caffeinated drinks. And of course, we went for cup after cup of Graveyards (i.e., a mixture of soft drinks that’s actually quite disgusting).

It was fun for the younger kids, not just for the junk food and all the soda we could imbibe. We brought sleeping bags to camp out in the long dining room (I can’t remember what we called that room) that was next to the dance floor. The week before New Year’s Eve, the teenagers gathered at the church to decorate and blow up balloons. At just before midnight, all the younger kids gathered below one of the three clear, plastic, bulging vessels waiting for the countdown. Everyone chanted along with the band’s lead singer counted down together “10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…HAPPY NEW YEAR!” The pre-appointed men would pull the corners of the plastic to release the balloons, confetti, and candy at the stroke of midnight. The kids grabbed treats and ran off to enjoy them, while the bands changed and the party went on for six more hours.

My two most memorable New Year’s parties were 1980 and 1990. The party in 1980 was memorable because it was the dawn of a new decade (awesome 80s!) and I collected stacks and stacks of wax-coated green paper 7-up cups – which, miraculously, my parents actually allowed me to take home. There had to be a hundred or more cups (I think around a twelve ounce size), and I spent hours the first weeks of January 1980 making cool stacked cup forts and structures in my bedroom.

Nineteen-ninety was a fun New Year’s party for a different reason. I was sixteen and had a boyfriend. The tradition was for the teenagers to go out for breakfast at 6:00 am, when the New Year’s party ended. We either went to Shari’s or Denny’s. My friends and I went to Denny’s with my brother and his friends (driving my parents’ baby blue mini-van – what nerds!). We went home in the late morning and crashed for a few hours at our house. When we got up in the late afternoon, my boyfriend and his friends were there to take us to Multnomah Falls. It was one of the most memorable days from my teenage years.

When I was a child, I looked far into the future to the year 2000 and wondered if I would still be alive then. I did the math and realized that I’d be twenty-six in Y2K. It was such a disappointing feeling to realize I would be alive, but far too old to enjoy myself by then!

I remember celebrating Y2K like some kind of disaster drill – whoohoo, a new millennium. After stocking up on unnecessary emergency supplies, some friends and I went to downtown Portland to ring in the New Year. All these doomsday people were holding “Turn or Burn” and “The End is Here” placards. Thousands (or hundreds – math isn’t exactly my thing) of young adults packed into the downtown park blocks, pressed up against each other. Music blared, people pushed, then a countdown to midnight. Yay – happy New Year! The crowd dispersed almost immediately. The “party” was over.

The FOC parties don’t have alcohol, and they don’t need it. What they have is talented bands and people who get out on the dance floor. 

I invite you to share your best New Year’s memories, but I’ll bet you’ve never been to a better party than at the FOC J.


  1. I guess I'm getting too old to remember. I've racked my brain and all I can come up with winning first prize female Karaoke singer. I can remember my worst New Years but I'm too embarrassed to share. Sounds like yours were a lot of fun. Such good memories. Hope this is a Happy New Year for you, too.

  2. What was the song, you can't leave us hanging!


  3. good wholesome fun! those memories are awesome. they are what made us feel like we belonged.


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