In New Zealand, in 1987, New Year’s Eve began at midday on the 30th December.
This was signaled by whoever had backed the keg in the station wagon into the driveway.
Once the keg had been tapped, it was a bit like the opening ceremony of the Olympics, where they light the cauldron.
Faces of anticipation turned to fully-blown wonderment as Lion Red beer frothed from the sides of the pump connection and dripped lovingly down the metallic vessel of mysteries.
Soon after, the boy-folk—all of 18 years old—would stand around, shirtless, holding two or three plastic jugs each, fresh from a swim in the over-chlorinated pool while the parents were at work until 4pm knock-off. And woe betide when the parents arrived at their own family home, which by that stage smelled like the Gluepot carpet after a Dragon gig.
Since there was so much Lion Red contained within the keg, beer could be liberally spilled and by 2pm some of the boys were in the pool again, with two jugs apiece, a lit Winfield smoke, and the music of an alternative rock outfit to “rage” to. A ball might even make it into the pool to convert the scene to sport.
After, dripping and replete, a convergence of wet dude-bodies would again worship the keg; the girls stretched out on loungers, talking, smoking Pall Mall menthols, drunk, and happy.
Someone would get the munchies, but the chicks had that covered. A girlfriend (from a different school) would have brought many salads and meats and would begin to unmount the rear of her 1980 Honda Civic hatchback—potato salad, rolls, potatoes wrapped in tin foil for the barbecue, marinating chops—and the man-tribe would stare at her in wonder, wishing they actually had a girlfriend.
The barbecue was lit with a match and a bit of turps, there was turps and meat and matches and bodies everywhere.
And nothing excited the crowd more than the sound of the barbeque being lit,
which made even the 60-something-year-old neighbours—in the middle of watching Emmerdale—pop a stern head over the fence, thinking some kind of teen mischief was going to affect their QV rating.
With the chops cooked, the boys ate with bare hands then slept, while the girls carried on drinking and dancing, swapping the guitar-based rock for Mel and Kim’s Respectable, until the influx of bogan-chick gatecrashers (from yet another school, the school where you could wear mufti) got the shits with the music choices and tried to put on Stevie Nicks’ Edge of Seventeen in another room.
Someone had drunk too much and spewed on the new duvet cover from D.E.K.A, and the hostess cried. Then the crying evolved into childhood regression:
I never knew my father!
Bogan chick and non-bogan chick alike would gather and soothe and someone would helpfully set up a bong.
Soon everyone was hugging and dancing again indiscriminately to Boy George, and magically they knew all the words to that song
If I looked into your eyes would you say
The boy of our dreams would finally come over, look in our eyes and dance with us, and we’d get together on the patio-cum-spa-pool floor, and stay together for at least two years, until he decided to join the police training school in Porirua.
And that was New Year’s Eve 1987, and if we’d kept going, we’d be in Capri ,not the island, the rehab centre.
But, of course, we’re not.
We’ve got the New Year’s resolutions of adulthood to thank for that.