Uptown Kingston to ring in the New Year, 1913-style

Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery)

Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery)

New Year’s Eve is always a time to remember the past and look back at what was, but in the Historic Stockade District of Uptown Kingston, they’re taking that concept to an entirely new level. As the calendar pages turn to 2013, local businesses will band together in a unique neighborhood-wide New Year’s Eve celebration, planning to party like it’s 1913, complete with pre-Prohibition-style drinks, food, music and entertainment.

Beginning at 7 p.m., Boitson’s Restaurant at 47 North Front Street, Duo Bistro at 50 John Street, the Stockade Tavern at 313 Fair Street and Backstage Studio Productions (BSP) Lounge at 323 Wall Street will all host era-specific festivities as if it were New Year’s Eve 100 years ago. Patrons dressed in the styles of the era (check out Downton Abbey) will receive special gifts or discounts.

There will also be roaming street performers, a vintage photo booth in which to take souvenir photos and a new tradition begun: The New Year will be ushered in by the first-ever “ball drop” at the corner of North Front and Wall Streets, which will be closed to traffic all evening.

BSP Lounge will reveal a special design installation by At Home Antiques with a free reception at 7 p.m. At Home Antiques, located at 81 Broadway, specializes in turn-of-the-last-century furnishings and décor; owner Rebekah Milne will transform the front lounge and private burlesque room at BSP into authentically century-old suites, with a leather rolling bar that was originally on the showcase floor when the building that now holds BSP Lounge was still Standard Furniture. After 9 p.m., the entertainment starts, with a $10 cover charge and age 18 minimum for the burlesque, vaudeville performers, a swing band and deejay after midnight.

The Stockade Tavern, which features century-old-style cocktails year-round in an atmosphere already reminiscent of that era, will be in its element. It will feature Caprice Rouge, an Eastern European klezmer band (think jazz-meets-polka, they say), starting around 9 p.m. for ages 21 and older. There’s no cover charge, and they’ll also have a deejay after midnight.

Boitson’s will offer a special 1913-era menu and cocktails plus a set of music from the era, converted from 78-rpm records, courtesy of local deejay Raissa St. Pierre. Duo Bistro will bring the past to life in its menu as well, and host locally based, internationally known husband-and-wife duo Rebecca Martin and Larry Grenadier performing old jazz and folk standards beginning at 10 p.m. All ages are welcome, and there’s no cover charge. Duo Bistro will also serve breakfast after the festivities at 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

So besides drinking those pre-Prohibition cocktails a century ago, what else were they partying about back then? The ball drop in New York City started in 1907, so that was already an established tradition in 1913. Transportation figured into the picture, as Grand Central Station opened on February 1, 1913; and in December the Ford Motor Company introduced the first moving assembly line, reducing chassis assembly time from 12 ½ hours to two hours and 40 minutes. And a future heroine on an everyday bus ride was born: Rosa Parks, in February of 1913.

On the other hand, the 16th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified that year, authorizing the federal government to impose and collect income taxes, and R. J. Reynolds introduced Camels, the first packaged cigarettes. Not much to celebrate there, but in other words: the usual mix of the good and the bad.

1913-style New Year’s Eve celebration, Monday, December 31, beginning 7 p.m., 12 midnight ball drop, North Front/Wall Streets, BSP Lounge, 323 Wall Street, Kingston; (845) 481-5158, https://www.bsplounge.com.

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