Over the last four years, the West Philadelphia Orchestra’s New Year’s Eve party has become one of the most talked about celebrations in the city. But you won’t find this Balkan dance party highlighted — or even mentioned — on most mainstream NYE listings. Like the band itself, this night isn’t for everybody. Though even the most taciturn partygoer would be hard pressed not to shake their fenek when the 13-member orchestra breaks into their trademark Eastern European rhythms.
“There’s just an exuberance in this music that people love and want to be a part of,” says longtime orchestra member Patrick Hughes. “But it’s punctuated by incredible sadness at times. So the extremes are really amazing for a party. It just touches so many emotions.”
And this year’s countdown is the biggest összejövetel (party) yet! They’ve teamed up with Philly’s favorite cabaret act, Johnny Showcase, and his comedic slimy lounge singer persona. As an example: “I’m gonna snort Champagne on stage at midnight,” says David Sweeny, aka Johnny Showcase.
Local indie luminaries The Extroadinares will play two sets to boot. Underground Arts has aquired a special permit for the event, so the Balkin madness can rage until four a.m.
"It’s like six hours of music, so I’m sure the bands will be joining each other on stage at by the end. It might get sloppy,” says Sweeny. But then he quickly corrects himself: “No! Scratch that. These bands are never sloppy. It’s going to be a very happy mess!”
Every year, members of the West Philadelphia Orchestra prepare their faviorite Eastern European dishes for their NYE party. A sampling of the band’s culinary skills is included in the price of admission.
West Philadelphia Orchestra’s NYE Party
Dec. 31, 8 p.m.- 4 a.m.
1200 Callowhill St.
Other great NYE parties you may not have heard about
New Year’s Eve at Ortlieb’s
The hallowed ground of Philly’s jazz scene will be invaded by one of the forefathers of the local indie scene this New Year’s Eve. Brother JT, founder of the legendary underground band Original Sins, will throw a party sure to draw a plaid-clad crowd. Price of admission includes an “open bar,” but limited to Yuengling, house liquors and a Champagne toast.
9 p.m.–2 a.m.
847 N. Third
For those that boycott going out on NYE for fear of massive cover charges, advance tickets and hangover-inducing well-drink open bars, the Revolution House is providing a refreshingly low-key evening. With the Waterfront fireworks visable from their heated roofdeck, they promise a few drink specials and live music, but no unneeded fuss. And, best of all, no cover.
Roof deck open until 2 a.m.
200 Market St.