This is the place I wanted to go to last year, but, alas, the gods conspired against me, and I ended up helping my drunk best friend and trying to hail a cab somewhere on Stanton. What’s the lesson? Buy your ticket now, and stay put. Don’t go outside for a cigarette, and ignore anyone who wants to go to Brooklyn between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., or you’ll be celebrating 2012’s arrival in the back of a crosstown bus. The professionals who run this 126-year-old nightclub know exactly what you need, and they’ve got all of your bases covered. Still the biggest and most elaborate of parties, Webster Hall’s New Year’s Eve Ball is epic in every sense of the word. And the best part is that everyone’s invited. Their legendary midnight 100,000-balloon drop is something everyone should experience at least once. At midnight, you get to watch the action at Times Square on their high-def video wall while fire dancers, aerial acts, and assorted freaks cruise its four massive floors. If you can’t make it to the main event, $40 gets you a ticket to Nero’s after-hours performance. General admission is $99. For a six-hour open bar, tickets are just $150.
125 East 11th Street, 212-353-1600, websterhall.com
SANTOS PARTY HOUSE
The greatest thing about this down-and-dirty Chinatown nightlife spot is the people you meet when you’re there. You never know who you’ll run into or what you’ll see inside its black walls. Santos stays true to the essentials of a New York City dance club. Your sound system must be loud and top-of-the-line, your talent must be freshly brilliant, and the only ones who are turned away at the door are assholes looking for trouble. Last year’s reOPENed party was a killer, so you better believe they’ve got something great planned. Eighty-five bucks gets you six hours of premium open bar from 9 p.m. onward, but if you need to sit down, you can buy reserved seating with bottle service for $145.
96 Lafayette Street, 212-584-5492, santospartyhouse.com
I don’t care who you are or where you come from, when you look down at the crowds packed together at Pacha, bathed in a frenzy of flashing lights from the mezzanine, you feel like a gangster who has just conquered New York City on his own terms. The most amazing thing about this club is what passes for normal. Gucci, shower dancers, and celebrities are not only common but also required. Since opening its doors to New York City six years ago, Pacha has been doing it bigger and glitzier than anyone else. Every week, DJs at the top of their game flock to Hell’s Kitchen in droves. This New Year’s Eve, Laidback Luke comes correct with Super You&Me. Seventy-five bucks gets you in the door, but you should probably just buy the four-hour VIP open-bar ticket for $110, which includes chocolate cherries, hors d’ oeuvres, and a champagne toast when the ball drops.
618 West 46th Street, 212-209-7500, pachanyc.com
This place never fails to deliver when it comes to South-American flavor. S.O.B.’s is one of a handful of old-school dinner-and-a-show dancing spots left in the city, and they pull out all of the stops come December 31. The night kicks off with live sounds from Bossanova Funky and DJ Spike T.I. Later, celebrate the coming of 2012 as you spin your date around the floor to the new salsa dura sounds of La Excelencia. The $150-per-person platinum package includes your own table where you and yours can enjoy a five-course dinner menu, a champagne toast at midnight, and, if you’re still dancing by dawn, breakfast. If you just love to dance, go for the general admission, which will run you $30 after midnight.
204 Varick Street, 212-243-4940, sobs.com
You might want to get shit-faced with your recently hitched brothers and sisters this year because no one knows how to stay out all night longer and harder than a gay New Yorker fresh from victory. Still a solid gay club destination, Splash Bar in the heart of the Flatiron is about as big and unapologetically gay as it gets. It’s places like this that kept Jerry Falwell up all night sweating in his Jesus Christ–checkered onesie pajamas. This New Year’s Eve, DJ Max Rodriguez rings in a bright, shiny tomorrow. Rent boys will dance, and strong drinks will be poured. Pre-sale tickets are $30 apiece to gain access to this 10,000-square-foot den of hedonism.
50 West 17th Street, 212-691-0073, splashbar.com
Cyndi Lauper made quirky chicks a party must, Madonna single-handedly lifted the gay scene off Cher’s poor, tired shoulders, and Nikki Sixx died a couple of times just to teach us the importance of placing limits on our lives. These people should be thrown parades for their great achievements. So the least we can do is celebrate their art. This New Year’s Eve, the Canal Room is throwing its quintessential “Back to the Eighties” bash featuring the almighty cover band Rubix Kube and a collection of over-the-top costumes and performances that warm the heart as you drunkenly belt “Take on Me” from the bar. Advanced tickets are $99, which includes a five-hour top-shelf open bar.
285 West Broadway, 212-941-8100, canalroom.com
There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in New York City traffic on New Year’s Eve, as you sit there hopelessly watching the meter run while everyone around you is having a blast. But there’s a way around that this year. The magnificent Zephyr will be setting sail from Pier 16 and rounding the horn of Manhattan. The three-hour party cruise promises climate-controlled comfort as you pass by Gotham’s glittering skyline. Fireworks, champagne, and dancing are all included in the $175 ticket price. (If you’re looking for something a little less fancy, the New York Water Taxi offers a slightly cheaper option at $120 per person.)
Piers 16 and 17, South Street Seaport, 212-809-0808, nywatertaxi.com