Music After sunset 

Symphony meets funky dance tracks on New Year’s Eve

It was a New Year’s Eve without significant others for myself and three of my friends, so we decided to class it up with a group date to the San Antonio Symphony’s “A Night in Old Vienna” at the Majestic Theatre.

We had dinner reservations for 6:30 and my friends were scheduled to arrive at my house an hour before. When the group arrived, I greeted them with mugs full of green tea that we barely had time to sip before running out the door and heading to Italia Ristorante on the River Walk.

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A DJ spins records as patrons belly up to the bar at Travis 151. (Photos by Mark Greenberg)

Among the four of us, Heather was the only punctual one, so of course we were late to dinner. They seated us next to the ghost band. A full instrumental set-up gleamed in the reflection of wine glasses and diamond earrings, but the band never sat down to play during our stay; our waiter, however, occasionally picked up the drumsticks and played, despite our attempts to pressure him to keep things moving to ensure our punctual arrival at the 8 p.m. concert.

Rather than cart leftovers all night, we decided to share appetizers and a bottle of proseco. Every drink was raised giddily in a toast, to friendship, to the end of another year, to the coming of a new year, to our upcoming symphonic experience of a night in Old Vienna (to which Nicole giggled that she felt our night so far was that night). Suddenly Heather pointed to her watch and we quickly inhaled the gaseous remainders of the bubbly proseco and barked at our waiter for the bill. He had promised we’d get to the symphony on time.

We didn’t. We threw open the doors of the Majestic, ran up three flights of stairs (we decided to pass up the $40 ticket options and go straight for the $15 balcony seats) and arrived just as the symphony launched into Strauss’ “Overture to Die Fledermaus, Op. 362.” We were disappointed, yes, in our inability to arrive on time, yet there arose among us an unacknowledged magical feeling, an appreciation of the fact that we were adult enough to choose and afford a high-class event like the symphony while maintaining enough of our youthfulness to arrive fashionably late and shamelessly purchase more alcohol at the Majestic’s bar.

While sipping champagne and awaiting the end of the first piece, I feasted my eyes on the doll-house intricacies of the Majestic without the distraction of the crowds. Inspecting each inch of the beautifully-designed interior fulfilled my art-viewing desires; every candy-coated corner delight, every color-spackled crevice amazed. Waltzing back upstairs from the bar to the balcony, I couldn’t resist the carousel sensation of the second level from pulling me around the entire circle before ascending to the next level.

Our seats were one row away from the wall, the highest point of the Majestic. I had to take a deep breath to tone down my excitement level and become an acceptable concert-viewing audience member. Though these were the cheapest seats, the perspective was ethereal; the stage was a blur of sawing bows enveloped in clouds of resin and the theatre itself began to twitter. And when Soprano Susan Dunn joined her vocal precision with the orchestral majesty, a crescendo of music washed over me, cleansing me.

What a way to spend the last evening of 2005.

During intermission, I was able to observe the spectacle of modern-day symphony patrons: there were elders and children, pining couples and groups of friends, women in evening gowns and girls in short skirts, and there was that one guy wearing jeans and a Guns N’ Roses T-shirt. The narrow refreshments bar was awash in mayhem as crowds waited impatiently in bungled lines to purchase wine or beer. My group raised our plastic champagne glasses once again and toasted ourselves for our wonderful decision to attend “A Night in Old Vienna.”

Majestic Theatre
226 E. Houston

Travis 151
151 E. Travis

The second half of the program was just as lovely and ended at the right time to allow us to run wild through the streets a while before the stroke of midnight. The next hour was spent in a whirlwind of anxious dissatisfaction as we ran from one place to the next, looking for the perfect spot: The Texan II was too mellow, Ácenar was too formal, TKO was too hyper. And then we found our niche for the night at Travis 151. The dark cave of dance music had us bopping our way to the bar, where we broke our champagne solidarity and ordered various cocktails.

We passed by the dance floor, passed the booths lining the wall, and went straight back to the urban patio overlooking the riverwalk. This perfect patio was high above the river, surrounded by tall buildings and tall trees. Out here yet another DJ was spinning some funky tunes while the band was taking a break. So we kicked back with our drinks, counted down, and spent the first several minutes of the new year in a mushy friendship fest of hugs and giggles. I was content. I was comfortable. In fact, I was ecstatic to observe the passing of another year as a resident of a city I love, with a group of friends I adore.

By Brooke Palmer

More by Brooke Palmer



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