Just because you own a musical time machine, it doesn’t mean you have to keep going back decades, to the last century and all that.

Sometimes it’s a blast to just pop back a year, maybe take a peek at what Worthing was up to on the 31 December 2017.

New year arrived early for some. Those attending TotRockinBeats’ NYE Spectacular in the Assembly Hall found that Big Ben struck on giant screens when it was still only 6.00 PM. The event was aimed at families, all generations welcome, from toddlers to one guest who was 97 years old. Entertainment included circus performers, a soft play area, a room playing hits of the ‘40s and ‘50s for older ravers, and, for those inclined to sing along when the hour came, Slade’s version of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ mixed into Prince’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy’.
“We partied and were home for bath and bedtime,” laughs organizer Dan Flanagan, “There were a thousand people there and it was the largest NYE party in Sussex. This year we have two parties at St Paul’s – and two midnights, one at midday and one at 6.00 PM – so I’ll be celebrating midnight three times in one day!”

Elsewhere, at the Cellar Arts Club, while midnight – and far beyond – was celebrated by a raucous DJ-led party, as it will be this year, there was also a very special family event, a late afternoon performance by local success story Crayola Lectern, whose recent album, ‘Happy Endings’, has been one of 2018’s more critically acclaimed.

“It looked great, lots of fairylights,” recalls the band’s Chris Anderson, “It reminded me of John Lennon’s bed-in, in that there were minor rock deities from Brighton draped around the room, a beautiful vibey evening, and a wonderful feeling of bonhomie before everyone got plastered later.”

Crayola Lectern played as a trio, utilising Omnichords, glockenspiels, cornets, synthesizers, effects pedals and much else; so much so that children in the audience were challenged by their parents to count all the instruments. The band return to the Cellar this year supported by LC Pumpkin, an artist who makes instruments out of other instruments and, according to Anderson, “has to be seen to be believed.”

Once the early-to-bed crew were done, however, it was time for everyone else to head out in full party mode, notably for Inappropriate Handclap at Coast, the Mother of All Parties at St Paul’s, Bar 42’s NYE special, the Manuka Bar’s masquerade bash, an ‘80s karaoke night at the Bar Next Door, and Liquid & Oxygen’s Winter Wonderland party (featuring snow machines and a stilt-walking ice wizard). Long before Inappropriate Handclap’s event, however, the posters, which featured a satirical image of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un, were causing a rumpus.

“Some people took offence,” says Handclap main man Norman Murchie. “I was going around town with them; some shops would take a look at the poster and I could see their commitment wavering. But in the end we packed Coast. We got confused when midnight was so there seemed to be a few different ones. The décor looked great; camouflage nets, all these vinyl records with my handprint on, and 30 psychedelically painted polystyrene hands. People wandered off wearing them and by the end of the night we only had five left. All in all, textbook Handclap chaos.”

This year Handclap take over Worthing Pier’s Southern Pavilion while Coast plays host to alt-‘80s night Never Stop and their seasonal special featuring guest DJ David Gedge of indie band The Wedding Present. In Bar 42, just like last year, they have one DJ on all night, the indomitable Max Lewnacy, running through from mid-evening until 4.00 in the morning.

“Last year he went through genres,” remembers Bar 42’s Mark Knowles, “He started off a bit heavy metal as that’s the crowd we had in initially, then mellowed, and there was pop, punk and dance music. It’s a long night for a DJ. One year we opened until 6.00 AM but that was horrible, dead by 5.00ish, so now we stop at 4.00, but don’t let anyone else in after 3.00. Last year I made sausage sandwiches for everyone at 2.00 in morning but that was when we had a kitchen. This year I may get the Turkish restaurant [Boutique] to put platters together.”

Meanwhile over at the Bar Next Door, new year was seen in by BA Baracus, members of Run DMC , Baywatch babes and a motley assortment of those who’ gathered for ‘80s-themed fancy dress karaoke, followed by dancing to the sound of DJ Jonny X (who earlier performed SNAP!’s ‘(I Got) The Power’ as his karaoke turn). This year they’re holding a beach party.

Further from the seafront Manuka’s masquerade party featured 200 black and white balloons, masks provided by the venue, fondue, and DJ Rob Lee leading the crowd across a multiplicity of styles. This year, though, they’ve outdone themselves, joining forces with the Fat Greek Taverna to put an outdoor stage on Portland Road with local covers band phenomenon Murdoch’s Crazy Eyes and house trio Textile pumping out sounds inside until 1.30 AM.

On NYE 2017 Murdoch’s Crazy Eyes were playing the fourth Mother of All Parties amid neon artwork beneath a giant glitterball in St Paul’s.
“We has a DJ playing chart bangers all night,” recalls promoter Thom Milner-Smith, “and the VIP room had a cocktail bar that dropped R’n’B tunes. The glitter cannons never arrived due to the supplier skidding off the A27 so midnight didn’t go off with quite the bang we expected, but there was a real sense of community and a diverse crowd. The passing of one year into another was celebrated with huge cheers.”

The Mother of All Parties is taking a year off in 2018 but, as you can see, there’s still plenty to do this New Year’s Eve. And that’s not even getting into all the house parties, and the pubs where there may or may not be music. As the manager of The Egremont told the Time Machine of the pub’s NYE, “There’ll be drink, reflection and optimism.” Apt sentiments for these strange times.

Raise a glass, then! Dance if you want to! Get amongst it! Most of all, have a great one.

Thomas H Green