New Year's Eve at the EMP

One of my favorite bars in Seattle is the Liquid Lounge at the Experience Music Project (EMP). I'm not necessarily a conoisseur of bars, but I really like this one. It never has a cover charge despite almost always having a live band playing (or at least a radio station broadcasting live), the bartenders are very friendly, and there's always a very diverse assortment of people to watch. Tourists, local punkers and goths, soccer moms, office drones, and everyone in between will feel at home there, young or old. So when I learned that the EMP's entire building -- museum, bar, restaurant, and Sky Church concert area -- was being reserved for a New Year's Eve party, I was pretty excited. Normally, Kristin and I just get together with another couple for New Year's and hang out at home all low-key and everything. But said friend, who works with Kristin, doesn't know how to talk about anything other than how much she hates her job. So this year I was intent on finding us an out.

Did I mention that New Year's Eve was also Kristin's 30th birthday?

I was intent on making a very special night of it for her. We boarded the dogs, reserved a room at the Crowne Plaza hotel, and got our tickets for the party and we're set. Or were we?

It seems yours truly made the classic mistake of forgetting to make reservations for dinner. I'm not sure how I could be so dumb, but I blame at least part of it on the fact that 99% of the restaurants in Seattle don't accept reservations. It's a very laid back kind of place and restaurant reservations don't fit that flow. Except on December 31st.

So, while Kristin was dropping the dogs off at "puppy camp" I started calling around. I went down the list of all the places I know we like or places we wanted to try. Nothing. They're booked solid. So I Google my way over to a site called and start calling random restaurants that sound good. Zilch. This site has five pages of links and my random sampling wasn't getting me anywhere. It was time to start at the top and go alphabetically. And the finally, I get to a Mediterranean place called Brasa that had a little "editor's pick" logo next to it.

Me: Hello, I know it's unlikely, but do you have a table for 2 available tonight for 6pm?
Host: We have an opening at 5:30, can you come earlier?
Me: Can we split the difference and make it for 5:45?
Host: Yes, we can but it's just that we have to have the table back by 7:30 for other reservations.
Me: That won't be a problem, we'll take our plates to the bar if we have to.

Kristin arrived home just as I was done high-fiving myself for not making her dine on street-side hotdogs on her special day and the two of us got dressed. Kristin bought an incredible-looking outfit while we were in Las Vegas in October and was finally going to wear it. Me? I had some silver pants and a black shirt with silver thread in it. Definitely New Year's type of dress. I'm seldom seen in clothing not made of fleece or denim or anything with sleeves for that matter, so here's some photos.

The birthday girl.

Dinner was great. We ended up getting there early despite my haggling for a later reservation and our meals were excellent. Kristin had a paella and I had a pistachio-crusted rack of lamb in a pomegranate sauce. I got a little nervous when I realized that I booked us a reservation at a Mediterranean restaurant, as I'm still nailing down exactly what types of shellfish I have an allergic reaction to, but fortunately there were one or two options that didn't come with mussels and clams and whatnot. So after the dinner and a nice bottle of Beaujolais and some insanely-good mascarpone cheesecake, we retired to the bar for a cocktail then hitched a cab over to the EMP.

The party at EMP was awesome. Tickets started at $45 and went up $10 in price for every 100 sold. Fortunately we got them when they were still low because there were easily 1200 people there by the end of the night. I hadn't been to the music museum in about 5 years and it was cool to walk through the exhibits with Kristin who'd never been there, nor knew much about the musicians featured. The museum also offered a nice place to retreat to when you needed some fresh air or free bottled water.

The main floor of EMP.

Liquid Lounge starting to get crowded.

The Liquid Lounge was packed as usual, but for good reason. There was an incredible R&B band (I forgot their name and the party website isn't working) playing off-and-on for nearly 4 hours straight. And definitely more on than off. These guys were playing great and the area that serves as a dancefloor pretty much puts you right on the platform stage with them. The singer and bassist would often wander through the crowd and flirt with the ladies. At one point the singer took look at what Kristin had on, turned to me and said, "boy, you're in trouble tonight". It was pretty funny, but she did look awesome. Speaking of dress, there was a little bit of everything there. Some wore jeans and nice tops, others wore nightclub attire, and some even ballgowns and tuxedos on. In a place as informal as Seattle, it was really nice to see so many people dressed up.

The singer from the R&B band.

Somebody dancing with the bassist.

Over on the main stage in the Sky Church theatre, the night started a little slow with a burlesque troupe called the "Atomic Bombshells". They looked good and their routines were cute, but it just seemed so dated. I know that's the point of a burlesque show, but still... with everything that can be seen on tv and the internet these days -- or just on top of any random bar in any college town in this country -- women in granny-panties and pasties just seems a bit old fashioned. And the unnamed cover-band that came on after them weren't much better.

Fortunately, before long it was 11:00 and the party's headliner, local band Presidents of the United States of America (PUSA) took the stage and the place really got hopping. I'm not a huge fan of this particular band because I really never took them serious enough to actually buy one of their albums but after seeing them live, I can tell you that they were a lot of fun. Their songs are a bit odd and playful, but they really know how to have a fun time (without resorting to the cheesy antics of most "entertainers") and I actually knew more of their songs than I thought. It turned out that a lot of songs that I thought were either by Weezer or Cake were actually PUSA songs. My mistake, it won't happen again.

The Presidents take the stage.

More PUSA.


The band counted us down to the New Year and when the clock struck 12, everybody went nuts. The EMP building is located directly below the Space Needle, site of Seattle's big fireworks show and because of the wind and our location, we weren't allowed out on the patio to watch the fireworks. But we did watch them through some windows near the doors and through a skylight in the roof that perfectly frames the Space Needle.

Happy New Year everybody!

The party started winding down around 1am and by 1:30 we were on our way back to the hotel. Rather than wait in line for a cab, we decided to walk and try and hail one on the way. Famous last words. We ended up walking over a mile (Kristin in heels) and never seeing a cab that wasn't already full until we were right in front of the hotel. Figures.

Time to take this little lady home.

But we did get to stop and buy some street-side hotdogs on the way to the hotel. Not out of necessity, I''m pleased to say.


Criscipline said...

Sounds like an amazing New Years! Kristin is smokin! Ouch! ;-) Doug, I am so glad I didn't get to see those silver pants. I'm sure it looked better than it sounds.

I'm so happy it turned out so well! Remind Kristin to look for her gift on or about 01/17.

Doug Walsh said...

Ha ha. Actually, they're really just kind of like silver denim-y type of pants. Not sparkly or anything. LOL! They're cool.

Criscipline said...

Whew! (Wipes forehead)

Jackie said...

Happy New Year (and happy belated to Kristin)!