New Years Day

he celebrations for the New Year this year will be spectacular because it will bring us to the commencement of a new decade, a new century and a new millennium. It will take us a bit of effort and practice to sign the new date like January 1, 2000 or February 20, 2000. Surely several checks will be spoiled as persons write 1999 on them.

A New Year is coming, and how will it be celebrated? Dancing, yes dances have always been the main part of New Year's celebrations. 125 years ago on New Year's Eve the bands used to come from Sarteneja when it was not a local group. Several accordion groups got together only for the occasion and threw a party. The young men would organize their band and hold it at Daddy's Club (now Big Daddy's). They had to go clean up and sweep the all, sprinkle the floor with either candle wax or body powder. They put on few palms or balloons and the hall was lit with kerosene lamps, the air compressed ones that shone like electric bulbs. The young men would then carry a written invitation from house to house inviting the young ladies.

By seven o'clock, the young ladies were well dressed in their locally made fashions. The men, for a change, would even be wearing shoes. Shoes were worn in San Pedro only for very special occasions, so you can imagine how special the New Year's Eve Dance was.

By eight o'clock the dance was in fu1l swing and the 25 or 35 girls were the main target of a whole army of men who wanted to dance to the tune of rumba, merengue, cumbia, bolero, corridas, waltz. ska or cha cha cha ,

The young ladies were chaperoned by their mothers, so the young men made sure they were comfortable or they would take the girls home. Therefore, they were served lemonade or refreshments, biscuits, and on cold December nights even hot chocolate or coffee. They provided benches for the moms and even set up tarps when it was extremely cold.

By midnight, the party was - in full swing but was interrupted for the "Misa de Gallo" (not the Cockerel Mass but the Midnight Mass). Everyone went to church and Daddy's Club was quiet for an hour. But after the mass, every one Would return to Daddy's and the "pachariga" (party) continued until three or four in the morning when mom would stay no longer.

The married men organized in similar manner their own dance, "El Baile manner their own dance, "El Baile de los Viejos o Casados" (The dance for old people or married couples). No de los Viejos o Casados" (The dance for old people or married couples). No single person was allowed at this dance which was usually held at Tio Dolito's house or Tio Pil's house. The big difference was that there were no mothers who chaperoned anyone. They were all married women belly winding and enjoying "la vida loca." da loca."

The children would have a grand time seeing their moms executing their Ricky Martin steps and even more fun receiving the generous gifts of two or three dollars from dad who got extra kind after four of five drinks. The married couple's bash went until sunrise and depending on the mood and sobriety it went until 9 am. Usually a heated argument or a fistfight ended this party and the accordionist and guitar player would carry his musical instrument home to signal the end of the new year's bash.

The married couples never organized a second dance but the single guys, very eager to meet the "senoritas" would usually organize a second party on January I and this one went from 7 PM. to midnight. After that it was quiet in San Pedro until the next festive occasion which was carnival in February or Easter in April.

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