By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
After Angel Sheridan's heartfelt departure from her famous gig at Escuelita last year, you have to admit that the Hell's Kitchen gay scene became a little less fabulous and fun. That's why it is my pleasure to announce that the outrageously entertaining Angel is returning to the club to ring in the New Year. Join her, Big Ben, and Chino as they roll out the Evolution 3 party. If you've heard of this famed multicultural gay and lesbian club, then you probably know their reputation as one of the best drag shows in town. Come and give a warm welcome home to our wayward sister, then dance the night away to some of the best bachata, merengue, and salsa music in town. The boys are muscular, and the girls have few hang-ups. Doors open at 5 p.m., and tickets are $20 in advance. 301 West 39th Street, 212-465-3333 • escuelita.com, $20
Since the untimely demise of Don Hill and his now-shuttered rock sanctum, up-and-coming musicians are finding it even harder to reach their thrashing multitudes. The metal giveth and the metal taketh away: That should be the slogan of the Acheron, a venue shaping up to be one of the best stages in Brooklyn. For the uninitiated, this is the go-to spot for anyone seeking the loud, the raucous, and the raunchy. Their Hesher New Year's Eve Party lineup includes DJ Inhaler, the Wolf, Henry Strange Ways, and BBG. They're also giving away tickets to future shows and constructing a fucking ice luge for the occasion. Now attached to the Anchored Inn, this is one of the few parties in town that doesn't want your money at the door. The uncorrupted who run this establishment are about something else entirely. High Life toast at midnight. 57 Waterbury Street, Brooklyn
If Father Time and Baby New Year had their own downtown address, it would be 125 East 11th Street. This 127-year-old nightclub has kept the sacred flame of new beginnings burning bright for Gothamites throughout the generations. But just because she's got some city miles on her, don't think for a second that Webster Hall's party is a relic. This year, the granddaddy of all New Year's Eve parties is doing it bigger, louder, and longer than anyone else, boasting the largest balloon drop in the free world (100,000 by their count, 3 billion by mine) and four floors featuring no less than eight of New York City's finest DJs and a host of aerial acts, fire displays, stilt walkers, go-go dancers, and snake charmers. Top that off with 12 six-hour-long open bars and an epic after-party spun by Tommy Trash, and you've got yourself a night of few regrets. The only thing more put together than the staff who run this beast of a party are the revelers who arrive in full costume. Some things never get old, and Webster Hall is one of them.
125 East 11th Street, 212-353-1600
websterhall.com, $99 and up
Since the Highline Ballroom opened its doors under the grand walkways of its namesake park, this intimate music venue, anchored in the heart of the meatpacking district, has formed a reputation for booking notable acts of all stripes. From alt-hip-hop to down-tempo experimental, this place gets a lot attention from people who like their music up close and personal—which is why the New Year's Eve party promises to be worthy of attendance. This year, DJ L and percussionist Ami O are rocking the main stage till the wee hours of the night. If you plan on going out like a Rockefeller this year, check out the night and day VIP package for you and 20 of your closest friends.
431 West 16th Street, 212-414-5994
highlineballroom.com, $85 and up
The biggest name in trance music is holding court this year at one of New York's largest venues. Voted no. 1 by DJ Mag for five years, Armin van Buuren will be taking all 64,000 square feet of Pier 36 to critical mass with a four-hour-long set. The skills of this legend from Leiden are only matched by the prowess of the people who run the light show. This party is definitely going to give Pretty Lights a run for his money this New Year's Eve. (Now that would be an epic battle. Write your congressman immediately.) Bonus: This venue offers one of the best late-night/early-morning views of Brooklyn. Open bar from 9 p.m. till midnight.
299 South Street, 212-233-5050
kicktickets.com, $185 and up
Santos Party House
Sometimes, you've just gotta do it big. And who better than Andrew W.K. to show you how big big can get? This black-walled Chinatown party mecca Santos Party House has already held its own against the banality of half-baked downtown nightlife promoters and stepped out onto new ground. Its Saturday-night Electric Beach parties have brought more than enough Mexican beer to the shores of Manhattan. This year's New Year's Eve bash promises some of the best times to be had south of Houston. With the sound system alone being a modern marvel, a 150,000-watt mega-monster, this is the after-party you want to be at after you've played nice with your in-laws and bailed on your girlfriend's wackness ("That drunk girl kissed ME!").
96 Lafayette Street, 212-584-5492
I don't know if you've heard, but staying in is the new going out. The DIY party ethic returned with a vengeance after the 2008 financial collapse and has been quietly continuing its comeback under Obama's watch. Sometimes, you just need to take a step back and throw a party. You don't even need a reason to do it, which is easy to forget with all the birthdays, holidays, and Kickstarter bashes clogging up your social calendar. Your girl can still get all dolled up, and you won't have to watch your best friend's lips turn blue while standing in line for hours on a freezing December night. All you need is a punch bowl, a bottle of grain alcohol, several bags of chips, and an address. The best part is telling everyone that it's BYOB. That way, the group does most of the work. (This might sound stingy, but you're the one cleaning up Tuesday morning.) Make sure the music situation is under control to avoid any drag moments, and if you're worried about no one showing up, just bill your spot as the after-after-party. They'll be lined up down the block till 7 a.m.
Various locations throughout the five boroughs