Before you let your imaginations run wild, let me clarify - "First Night" here means the night on January 1st when they welcome the new year! Honestly, "First Night" seemed amusing to me too. It could have been "New Year Day", "New Year Eve Night", "Jan First", "Jan Night" or anything. Just imagine a person here talking to another - "How was your first night? Enjoyed? Had fun?" :))
December 31st started like any other saturday. I got up pretty late, had a long sleep, though my laptop was awake all night downloading the movie Rashomon. I had seen this movie more than a decade back on doordarshan. Surprisingly, I had liked this Akira Kurosawa classic. The story was a bit weird but very captivating. From the last few months, I had a strong desire to watch that movie again. I made full use of the amazing internet bandwidth here and by noon, I was watching the movie. I loved it even more this time.
This saturday was turning out to be something different. I had planned to go downtown for the first night (I am sorry, new year eve!). But, there were rains the last couple of days here and my lazy mind was having this as an excuse to stay at the apartment. By 3.00 PM, the first rays of sun fell on the window blinds. Instantly, I decided that I would go downtown and did not let my lazy mind think for excuses. I quickly opened the UTA site and started seeing the maps, routes and timings. In over an hour, I had finished noting down the timings, route numbers and phone numbers of Trax (They call the light road rail here as Trax) I left my apartment around 5.00 PM, crossed the Fashion Boulevard and after reaching the Trax station, got a round trip ticket to Delta Center (downtown). The trax went through Murray, Meadowbrook and it was approaching Millcreek. A guy was sitting in front of me with his skiing accessories.
"Is Central Pointe the next stop?", he asked.
"Yes", I told, obviously happy about my improving geographic sense.
The trax crossed City Center, Temple Square and reached Delta Center.
All the trees in the Delta Center were decorated with lights. The trees seemed to be in a happy mood, temporarily forgetting the pain of their leaflessness. I entered the Delta Center and started exploring the place. There was some basketball match going on inside, but I had no intention of watching that. I called Megan from the public telephone and wished her a happy new year. She seemed pleasantly suprised by my call. I asked her to convey my regards to Steve as well and hung up the phone. I was feeling hungry by then. Pizza would be too heavy! So, I got a sandwich and a coke. I had never eaten a sandwich as bad as that in my life, and for the first time in my life, I felt the importance of coke. With great difficulty, I finished it(thanks to coke!) and walked out of the Delta Center.
It had started drizzling and to make matters worse, it was too windy. I walked towards Temple Square, by which time the rains had stopped. I remembered what Megan had said - "Go to temple square, its full of decorations, ..." The lighting inside Temple Square was better than Delta Center. I watched Tabernacle, the olympic fountain and then entered the church. No, it was not a church, but the Assembly Hall! The compere was announcing - "Please welcome the Saltaires. They belong to the blues era mixed with the barbershop music, which gave birth to rock n roll...." A group of around 30 old men with black coat and bow were on the stage. The youngest of the oldies started swinging his arms to co-ordinate the chorus.
"When I was a kid, my daddy gave me a toy...I did not know what it was, I guess I never will", they started singing.
After the song, one of them came near the mike and took out a piece of paper from his pocket.
"I have either nothing to say, or I have got the wrong piece of paper" The crowd laughed.
He took a paper from the other pocket, and said, "We will take you back to the history. This music is from the era of 'doo-wop' music, if you dont know...presenting to you next is a quartet..."
Four of them came forward and started singing.
"I love you so much that I cant live without you...on second thoughts, I think I can..."
The song was full of contradictions and was very hilarious. The assembly hall was full of oldies and they seem to be enjoying the songs of their times. As far as music was concerned, I could relate to them much more than the yuppie teenagers outside. I felt bad that Jazz and Country music has faded away in the era of Britneys, Timberlakes, Nellys and Kellys! After this, there was some comedy show. The old ladies in the next row were laughing loudly for every dialogue or expression. I was feeling bored. I somehow dont understand the english comedy!
I left the assembly hall and went to the Joseph Smith Memorial. Some girls were performing the tap dance. As it was not good, I decided to roam around outside. After sometime, it again started drizzling, so I decided to go to the Assembly Hall again. Luckily, the comedy show was over(Thank God!) and the compere was announcing - "Welcome to the acoustic jazz group Sam Payne Project. Let me tell you, they are terrific. Sam Payne is the son of the legendary Utah singer......"
Sam started with his hit number - Spaceman - a song about how an astronaut would feel in space...
"No one speaks my language, and I cannot drink their tea...
Galaxies are not enough without a hand to hold..."
They sung some more songs - about two estranged brothers meeting at their father's funeral, a mother praying to God to protect their son who has gone to war...
The performance lasted for about half an hour and it was thoroughly enjoyable.
The next group on stage was Brewster family. They played bluegrass and Irish music - with fiddle, celtic harp, flute and guitar. Their performance was as good as the previous one.
It was just 10 minutes to midnight and I rushed to the Delta Center. At the stroke of midnight, fireworks welcomed the new year. It was one of the most memorable new year celebrations I ever had. I would not have felt bad if I had not gone there that night, as I would have never known what I would have missed! I ran to the Trax station and got into the Sandy shuttle. 2006 had just kicked 2005 out!