By Bob Ruggiero
By Hilary Hughes
By Peter Gerstenzang
By David R. Adler
By Devon Maloney
By Brian McManus
By Jessica Hopper
By Harley Oliver Brown
Ping-pong: the game of giants. A force for unity among mortals. The beautiful thing about this game is that it seems to transcend every kind of social distinction we have on hand—age, race, creed, gender, and sexual orientation play absolutely no role in giving you an advantage. Reflexes, control, and coordination are the main components, abilities everyone possesses in varying degrees. And the best part is that champions are everywhere. (For all you know, your girlfriend could have paid for college by sharking frat boys at their very own beer pong tables.) With 17 ping-pong tables, SPiN Galactic holds pride of place above all others in terms of space, accessibility, and cocktails. On New Year's Eve, it's offering a five-hour premium open bar from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., free ping-pong games, and a champagne toast at midnight. Fun fact: Susan Sarandon owns a piece of this black-lit palace.
48 East 23rd Street, 212-982-8802
newyork.spingalactic.com, $55 and up
The streets can get pretty dense on December 31 as hordes of revelers pour in through our bridges and tunnels and pack into our neatly laid avenues and streets, while seeking out that little piece of glamour to call their own. That's all well and good for them, but for some of us, the ocean is calling. Newyearscruise.com is offering a number of packages ranging in price and ambience, from the luxurious, black-tie-optional Cornucopia Majesty to the more laid-back experience of the Circle Line 42. Each cruise promises panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline and front-row seats to the midnight fireworks display.
Prices and departure times and locations vary.
If only there were a movie theater out there that treated you like a fucking adult, where you could eat, drink, and be merry. Enter the Nitehawk. This movie theater in the heart of Williamsburg is most definitely not your grandparents' art film house. The good people here offer food and spirits to film fanatics before, during, and after the movie, and they love to screen our kind of classics (in December, they're playing Kill Bill volumes 1 and 2, The Garbage Pail Kids, and Flash Gordon). The last block of screenings runs at 7 p.m. on New Year's Eve, so get there early, order a Scotch, and enjoy the show.
136 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-384-3980
Direct from the City of Angels for two shows in Gotham, Pete Correale is back this New Year's Eve. Correale, whose career has gone from flipping burgers at the New York Comedy Club to making appearances on Letterman, has his own style of observational humor. His podcast with Jim Breuer, "The Podcast Masters," is mental, and his 2009 hour-long special, "The Things We Do for Love" still makes me laugh out loud. (I particularly like his bit about how assembling Ikea furniture tests the strength of a marriage.) The show starts at 10:30 p.m., so get there early to take advantage of the $150 VIP-pass open bar. Free champagne at midnight and party favors.
208 West 23rd Street, 212-367-9000
gothamcomedyclub.com, $60 and up
The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine
If you've never experienced this magnificent cathedral, there is no better time than New Year's Eve to head uptown and pay it a visit. Conceived by Leonard Bernstein as a celebration of the common man who perseveres in the wake of rich men's wars, the church's annual New Year's Eve Concert for Peace has drawn people of all faiths together for almost three decades. Sitting under the vaulted heights of this urban treasure while listening to the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Anton Bruckner by candlelight promises to be an amazing beginning to a new year. Special guests include Judy Collins, Jamet Pittman, Kirsten Sollek, Steven Fox, and Peter Stewart.
1047 Amsterdam Avenue, 212-316-7540
stjohndivine.org, $25 and up
Coney Island Polar Bear Club
I hate sunrises. They always serve as a cruel reminder that everything I'm doing with my life is wrong. But this year will be different. This year, I'll learn to embrace them. And what better way than by plunging into the freezing waters of the Atlantic after hitting every bar in town? The world's oldest winter-bathing organization will be forming up on the beaches of Coney Island for its annual New Year's Polar Dip. And there is a point to this incredibly insane mass submersion; this year, crowdrise.com is collecting donations to send children with life-threatening illness and their families to Camp Sunshine, a program that offers counseling. Don't know how to swim? Don't sweat it. You can make a pledge online to someone who can, then show up that day to watch me sob and carry on like an asshole as I wade out to my death. The ultimate after-party begins at 1 p.m. sharp.
Broadway and Stillwell Avenue, Brooklyn
Sin City Cabaret
Normally, I would completely overlook recommending a strip club like this for a New Year's Eve destination because it's beneath my journalistic standards. But then a friend described this South Bronx gem as an "Applebee's packed to the gills with ass," and that statement alone warranted a closer examination. Any fan of Big Sean will be right at home here. You've probably seen the glaring purple neon sign of Sin City Cabaret hundreds of times (the Metro-North Harlem line passes by on its way out of town) but never actually made a sojourn to New York City's largest premier gentleman's club. From what I've seen, the ladies are lovely and definitely worth the late-night trip on the 4/5. Bonus: If you RSVP, you get a T-shirt!
2520 Park Avenue, the Bronx, 718-401-1700
sincitynewyork.com, free admission before midnight