This New Year’s Eve, Uptown Kingston once again demonstrates its remarkable new collective-mindedness, its readiness to coordinate, cohere and act like one self-aware place in the confident possession of both diversity and unity. The Uptown Kingston of my youth, in a decade not to be named, was a drab (but always pretty) place that my mother took me for school clothes: old-man slacks at London’s, pre-treated with cigar smoke, and smart, preppy shirts at Yallum’s that didn’t hang well on my Xtreme scrawn; then maybe a little candy at the Fanny Farmer’s on the corner of Wall and North Front, if I were deserving. Otherwise, there was just no “there” there, and no real reason to see one coming.
Now a “there” has arrived in a big way for reasons that I will leave to the civic and socioeconomic analysts. Examples of Uptown acting like somewhere-to-be dot the calendar range from the O+ Festival to the Chronogram Block party and the Kingston Film Festival. When Uptown Kingston presents “New Year’s Eve: Come to the Cabaret,” the old Stockade once again fans out in a unified front and a confederation of attractions, events and themes. In keeping with the Deus Loci, the flavor of “Come to the Cabaret” is louche, with pre-21st-Amendment burlesque, peepshows, swing dancing, vaudeville and, of course, an old-fashioned ball-drop at midnight.
The spacious rooms at BSP will host the lion’s share of the entertainment. Lady Schnitzel presides; the visually and sonically arresting Gypsy punk duo Frenchy and the Punk perform; Lady Alchemy and Delysia La Chatte hold court in the Burlesque Room; and Dave Leonard JTD Productions, the event front of eminent local and national deejay Dave Leonard, hosts an after-midnight dance party.
Prohibition Era cocktails will be served at the Stockade Tavern on Fair Street while the extraordinary klezmer and Balkan quartet Caprice Rouge entertains. Keegan Ales slides over from its St. James Street headquarters to set up an ad hoc sideshow on North Front Street, featuring a pop-up peepshow complete with Keegan’s brews, a photo booth by Peter Demuth Photography and an antique installation by Milne’s At Home Antiques and Gallery.
The cabaret theme extends to menus and drink specials all across town, including Santa Fe Uptown, Gabriel’s Café, Elephant Tapas Bar and Boitson’s Restaurant (which will have a special smokers’/cocktail lounge on its back deck). Café East on Fair Street will be open late into the night with a special drink and food menu, and there will be late-night Italian deli items from Dominick’s Café and breakfast (or pizza) after midnight at Duo Bistro and Sissy’s Café.
Silent movies will be shown at Outdated: An Antique Café. The ball drop, hosted by Baby New Year and Father Time, happens at midnight on the corner of Wall and North Front, right in front of the old Fanny Farmer.
Appropriate dress is “requested,” leaving plenty to your imagination and discretion; but attendees are encouraged to get ready for the big night with a top hat from Blue-Byrd’s Haberdashery or Columbia Costumes, and a custom style from LeShag salon or Pugsly’s Barber Shop.
A free shuttle will run throughout the area from 6 p.m. to 2 p.m. Admission to BSP costs $25. Advance tickets are recommended. All other “Come to the Cabaret” attractions are free. Tickets are available at https://bspkingston.com.