Last Call for New Year's Eve
There's less than a week to go before New Year's Eve, and if you haven't made plans yet -- or you've found your plans have changed -- there are still plenty of options out there. It all comes down to what kind of atmosphere you want and what you're willing to pay.
Let's start with those all-inclusive big-ticket parties that bring thousands of revelers into ballrooms across the city. As of today, it was still possible to get into the party at the Embassy of Italy, which promises wine tasting, opera, dancing and classic films; the final night at the Hotel Washington, with multiple bars and that famous view of the White House from the rooftop Sky Terrace; and Scythian's annual masquerade ball at the former City Museum, with multiple live bands and magicians entertaining the masked crowd. In terms of big dance clubs, it's hard to ignore the appeal of Five, which, for $70 in advance, has DJs from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., an open bar until 2, food and giveaways.
On the other end of the spectrum are the free or no-cost nights that are designed for those who don't want to rent a tux, don't want to spend three bills on admission and do want to avoid supersized crowds, (realizing that they're not going to get their $75 cover charge worth at the open bar). Those folks should look at this list of free parties. I like the sound of DJ Meistro's Dirty Bombs mix of reggae and hip-hop at Wonderland, DJ DK's funky party jams at Cafe Saint-Ex and honky-tonk singer Ty Braddock at Austin Grill. Or, arrive early (before 9) at Cobalt for DJs spinning the best of the last three-and-a-half decades.
Stetson's, Buffalo Billiards, Galaxy Hut and Aroma are among the bars observing a business-as-usual approach. Kirkpatrick's is offering karaoke as well as a DJ, and at Topaz Bar both signature cocktails and appetizers are half-price. Napoleon has DJs spinning dance music and plenty of champagne options for your midnight toast. There's not a cover charge in sight.
The middle ground is full of bars and clubs offering mid-priced admission -- let's say less than $50 -- without much in the way of open bars, but there's still much to consider. Eric Hilton of the world-renowned Thievery Corporation and Eighteenth Street Lounge Records artist Federico Aubele are DJing in the main room at the Eighteenth Street Lounge (Aubele in 2007, Hilton in 2008), with a jazz band upstairs. While it's a pricey ticket at $50, it won't be as overpacked as many parties around town. Gua-Rapo also has a pair of DJs (oo7 and Ruben) spinning house and international music, but the Arlington lounge's $40 cover includes two hours of free food. DJ Harry Hotter of Love is spinning hip-hop at Gallery, where the $25 cover includes an hour of free drinks and a midnight toast. The Black Cat offers a choice between the retro sounds of Peaches O'Dell and Her Orchestra on the mainstage and Mark Zimin of the ever-popular Mousetrap Britpop night on the club's backstage.
Tommy Joe's isn't trendy or fancy, but with a $20 cover, you get dancing to a DJ and $3.50 drinks all night. At DC9's Liberation Dance Party, the club will buy your first drink before a night of Britpop, indie and electro music. Rocket Bar and Helix Lounge are both charging $10 at the door, and while they don't have DJs or entertainment, both are offering drink specials to ease the pain.
Finally, this is your last chance to spend New Year's Eve at Dr. Dremo's Taphouse. The Arlington landmark, which is closing in January, will charge $25 at the door for a night of free appetizers, a midnight champagne toast, pool and darts.
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