BEIRUT: The coming year will start off with less of a bang and more of a lethargic hoorah, as many plan to throw small house parties to avoid the cost and hassle of New Year’s Eve.
“The big nights are very, very expensive this year – $400 per person,” says Basem, 35. “I prefer the small night because it will be more warm and lovely.”
Whether planning private escapes to their village homes or camping out all night at one their favorite bars, many Beirutis are preparing for low-key New Year’s festivities. Many, like Basem, plan to head to the bars in Ashrafieh or Hamra or skip the to-do altogether and bring the party home.
And with so many New Year’s Eve plans still up in the air, Basem and others say they prefer to see where the night takes them. “I like to change the place after midnight,” he says.
Sitting on a bench to take a break from some post-Christmas shopping, Youmna and Zeynab say they have also put little thought into New Year’s Eve.
At only 17 years old, Zeynab has few options and plans to go to a house party with friends, she said. But even those old enough to attend one of the city’s clubs or bars – like 20-year-old Youmna – say they will also join friends at a house party. Youmna says she prefers not to spend a lot of money.
“It’s better to buy the alcohol and buy something to eat because it’s not expensive,” she says.
For this year’s revelers, an evening with close friends is the top priority.
Karim, 26, says this year has been pretty unplanned, except for the return of a group of friends from Dubai. He expects they will head to Bar National to join another friend who DJs at the Kaslik venue.
Hanging out on a Hamra street corner listening to music, Karim says he’s given just as little thought to his New Year’s resolutions. “I guess just to be luckier with things,” he says, “to have luck on my side.”
One of the many Lebanese returning from jobs in Dubai to celebrate the holiday at home, Moe, 23, says despite the trip, he won’t be doing anything huge for the New Year.
He says he and his friends looked into renting a chalet in Faraya, but the average cost he found neared $2,000 per night. Preferring not to spend the night in crowded Hamra either, Moe says, he and his friends may go to his family’s home in the south or throw a small party in his Beirut apartment.
Sitting outside her job in the Jewelry Souks of Downtown, Rebecca, 24, has decided on a night in with her soon-to-be fiancé, she says. She doubts they’ll spend more than $100-$150 on food and alcohol. Rebecca prefers to stay safe and drink at home since the roads will be full of drunk drivers, she says.
For those ringing in the New Year with a night on the town, many say they’ll stick to their usual haunts.
Enjoying a cigar on the second floor of Beirut Souks, Jad, 35, says he’ll be spending New Year’s at his restaurant.
Jad, owner of Cezanne located near Habtoor Hotel in Sin al-Fil, says they plan to prepare a several-course meal and host a live band.
Tyma, 24, says she will spend the night with her boyfriend at Calibri in Hamra, a place the two go to regularly.
Enjoying some fried calamari before her New Year’s diet, Tyma says she was invited to see Maya Diab and Regheb Alama in concert – hosted this New Year’s Eve at the Beirut International Exhibition and Leisure center. But she turned down the offer because spending time with her boyfriend – and his friends – is more important.
“Him and his friends, always his friends, not mine,” she says, laughing and adding that it’s fine. “I want to get married this year.”