Eager to evade the forthcoming “witching hour,” as he called it, a cook at Mike’s Beef ’N’ Brew in Oakley was prepping to leave. As he glanced at the crush of bodies in the next room, three newcomers entered through the front door. They were all smiles, and two wore paper hats that glittered “Happy New Year” across the front.
“And here they come,” the cook murmured, his pace quickening as he gathered the evening’s meal tabs.
Among Mike’s New Year’s revelers were some of the restaurant’s middle-aged guests who, emboldened by cocktails and the classic-rock rumblings of the live band Blue Moonshine, cut up the dance floor.
Many of East County’s New Year’s Eve events did their best to encourage residents to let loose – over drinks, on the dance floor – and connect with one another in an effort to forget, albeit temporarily, a calendar year that left much to be desired. In fact, sentiments for the new year shared by two ladies at Mike’s encapsulated the collective hopes of the nation: “No more shootin’ kids,” declared the first. “No more shootin’ babies.”
“Peace for the world, and no more hard times,” said the second.
Over on First Street in Brentwood, good times were definitely on tap. The coolest collection of bubbly, fun loving Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers were dressed to impress, despite the wintry chill. Boasting a guest list 100 partiers long, the sleek, newly renovated Excess Ultra Lounge was pulsing with DJ Geo C’s hip-hop beats that spilled out onto the street, attracting heat-seeking twentysomethings still pulling up en masse after 11:30.
Viewed from outside, Sweeney’s Grill & Bar looked tame. Inside, the crowd was happily crammed onto the makeshift dance floor, a few couples boogieing to the Top-40 hits spun by the DJ, or squeezed against the bar, enthusiastically imbibing and talking – well, shouting – over the din to partners and friends.
At three minutes till midnight, guests at La Fuente Mexican Restaurant were ready for the countdown. Attire was classy, and sparkly tiaras, gold noisemakers and feathered headbands added flair. Owner Oscar Olvera looked just as spiffy in a satin button-up shirt and a big smile on his tan face. As the clock struck 12, he and his patrons raised their slender champagne glasses in unison and cheered. Danceable tunes such as “We Are Family” and “YMCA” erupted from the DJ, and guests happily resumed dancing the night – and 2012 – away.