Where to spend New Year’s Eve 2011

Hot Dance Music! Champagne! Porn stars! Oceanliners! New Year’s Eve is the best night of the year in L.A., and whether you’re looking to party with tens of thousands of your closest friends, laugh with your kids, or meditate to candlelight through year’s close, we’ve got your night sorted. Angelenos are a particularly party-hearty lot, and we’ve combed through a night teeming with chances to wear your party gown, don a stupid hat, pop champagne, dance yourself silly and wipe the slate clean with either a bang or a whimper. Nah, skip the whimper. Grab hold of one of these events and live up to your resolutions right now.

Big bashes

The big news this year is that the annual Together as One dance party is now, uh, not together, but is rather two parties like it once was. The show goes on, but Together as One will not be at the L.A. Coliseum this year. Instead it will bring Diplo, Chromeo, Duck Sauce and other hot dance acts to a kind of wilderness retreat at Oak Canyon Park.

The lineup to beat seems to be Insomniac and Giant’s new combo-load, White Wonderland New Year’s Eve Gala, with a DJ quiver so big it had be extended into a two-day festival at the Anaheim Convention Center. Live talent includes Paul Van Dyk, Kaskade, Dada Life and more.


If you want Hollywood on a platter, one ticket to the Las Palmas Block Party allows entry to the hip-hop party at Las Palmas, the house music scene at Premiere Supperclub, and the rock stage at Angels and Kings. Each club will have a midnight countdown.

It just wouldn’t be New Year’s without the party on the Queen Mary, where spiffy dancers choose from seven different onboard parties, each with its own style of music, including jazz, ‘70s, ‘80s, even a dueling piano sing-along. Includes party favors and a midnight fireworks display.

Other recommended parties include Big Bang 2012, unleashing the sounds of Cobra Starship, Lupe Fiasco and a raft of DJs, dance shows, aerialists and other stuff that screams “New Year!” at the Hollywood & Highland megaplex,; Cleopatra’s Ball in the stylish courtyard at the Egyptian Theater,; the official Vivid Entertainment party, featuring “hundreds” of porn starlets, at Ecco Ultra Lounge,; Downtown Long Beach’s street party,; a South Bay Gala that brings dance music, dancers, aerialists and your future to Redondo Beach,; and the Maxim Black & White New Year’s Eve Affair at the Chinese Mann’s Theater,

Let someone else drive

Don’t drink and drive. Instead, get the Hollywood VIP Pass and get a ride to between five and eight happening club parties, depending on the ticket purchased. Clubs include Geisha House, Red Room, Egyptian Theatre Courtyard, ecco, Playhouse After Hours and the Las Palmas Block Party.

Alternatively, let Hornblower Cruises steam you around Newport or Marina del Rey while enjoying dinner, dancing and drinks and watch all the onshore madness from a safe distance.


L.A. is blessed with just too many hot venues to mention, but nightlife giant SBE offers 20 New Year’s Eve parties at its venues XIV, Colony, Bazaar, SLS Beverly Hills, and more via its website, Other standouts include Bootie L.A. New Year’s Eve, where Echoplex regulars will be partying with a certain apocalyptic glee and proving once again that the inebriated love mash-ups, balloon drops and dirty dancing.


Also sure to sparkle is the rooftop party at the Standard Downtown, where Xo Chic and Droog will be fueling the action and someone will end up in the pool, clothed or not. Free with rsvp to

Avalon is going to burn with one of the best shows of the night, featuring an extended set by DJ legend John Digweed,; and the stalwarts at KCRW are unleashing DJs Garth Trinidad, Aaron Byrd and Valida at the Viceroy with an open bar, tacos, and…wait, you need more than that?

Playhouse is adding a touch of naughty class to the night with its Carnevale di Venezia, a masquerade ball inspired by the fancy masked shindigs thrown by Italian royalty of yore — except with thumping house music, aerialists and you, Glow Lounge in Marina del Rey is hosting a New York City-themed party complete with street food carts, for those who can’t scratch that itch,; and the beautiful Park Plaza is the site for LACMA’s Golden Stag party, where fellas and flappers can get their 1920s on,

Fine dining


Recommendations from Times Restaurant Critic S. Irene Virbila

Globe trotters and armchair travelers can get a New Year’s Eve fix at the Tasting Kitchen in Venice where chef Casey Lane and company will be cooking up a lusty five-course dinner with French, Italian, Moroccan and Spanish dishes. You get a choice of three menus — “4 All,” “Pescetarian” or “Verdure” (greens). The Abbot Kinney restaurant is casual and fun (plenty loud too) and the food is always spot on delicious. The Tasting Kitchen, 1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. 6 p.m. to close. $90. Wine pairings are available for an additional $45 per person. (310) 392-6644.

Rivera chef-owner John Sedlar’s Latin-inflected New Year’s Eve menu promises something very different as he combines French and Latin influences in a 5- and 7-course extravaganza. Think scallops with maize concentration, French ballotine of chicken napped with a chestnut molé or bûche de Noël made with passionfruit sponge cake and coconut “snow.” Of course, festive cocktails and champagne will be served. Rivera, 1050 S. Flower St., No. 102, L.A. Early seating (5 courses), $100; late seating (7 courses), $125. (213) 749-1460,

Lucques in WeHo will be channeling the Hemingway hangout Harry’s Bar in Venice. The 5-course prix fixe menu starts with the Venetian antipasti called cichetti and moves on to warm scallop and squid salad with chanterelles, lobster americaine and rack of lamb with radicchio risotto followed by Harry’s Bar’s famous torta di zabaglione. Harry’s Bar at Lucques, 8474 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood. First seating 5:30-6:30 p.m. $110, second seating 8:30-9:30 p.m. $150, includes favors and midnight toast. (323) 655-6277.


If you want to spend the night in a glamorous venue looking out over the city, Wolfgang Puck’s WP24 might be the place. Chef de cuisine Sara Johannes at WP24 is preparing a lavish six-course menu of signature dishes and Chinese specialties for the occasion. The theme? “Several Tastes of Good Fortune,” which means king crab hot and sour soup, exquisite miniature dim sum, “angry lobster” fired with Szechuan chilis and not only Peking duck, but also a duo of Kobe beef. WP24 Restaurant and Lounge, 900 West Olympic Blvd., downtown. 6 or 9:30 p.m. $250. (213) 743-8824.

Spiritual new year

For those who want to enter the new year in a more enlightened mindspace, Golden Bridge Yoga is offering an Age of Aquarius event featuring yoga, music, dance and enhanced meditation with Gurmukh, Tej, Harijiwan and Gurshabd,; Shambhala Meditation Center of Los Angeles is holding Silence and Celebration: A New Year’s Eve Retreat with meditation sessions, discussion and a community dinner,; initiates can take an introduction to Buddhism with Fusatsu (atonement ceremony) and Zazen (meditation) at Hazy Moon Zen Center / Koun-Ji Temple,; and, very appropriate for the resolution season, Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society is offering an Intention Setting Ceremony to recommit to spiritual practice with the three Buddhist refuges and the five Buddhist precepts,

Family time


Party with your kids this New Year’s Eve with a host of family friendly events, including the annual Noon Year’s Eve Balloon Drop at Kidspace,; or “The Not Inappropriate Show,” a special sketch comedy show for youngsters presented by Bob and Naomi Odenkirk at Upright Citizen’s Brigade, Magicopolis is always a great evening, plus the night holds pizza, a souvenir bag of tricks and a midnight toast of champagne — or sparkling cider,; Universal City Walk is promising DJs, fireworks and a mall-like shopping frenzy,; and the Fred Kavli Theater is hosting “The Best is Yet to Come,” a Broadway variety show in Thousand Oaks,

What’s better than kids and fireworks? Probably nothing, so a midnight show at Burton Chace Park in Marina del Rey is a sure bet,; also, the venerable Fillmore & Western Railway is hosting an elegant dinner train complete with Hollywood impersonators, dancing and a midnight champagne toast,

Pop music

New Year’s is not a huge night for concerts, but those who are playing are making it an event. Back by popular demand, Portland’s retro lounge lizards Pink Martini return to the Walt Disney Hall with their unforgettable fusion of Brazilian samba, ‘30s Cuban dance and Parisian café sounds,; those busy folks at KCRW-FM are also hosting a good show with Jenny & Johnny and the band Cults at the Standard Hotel in West Hollywood,


Rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson could not be more different than the lo-fi indie pop of Best Coast, but they share a fantastic bill at Club Nokia,; and the Orphics, featuring frontman-accordionist Matt Roth’s enchanting blend of Middle Eastern music and rock ‘n’ roll — which includes a hearty dollop of spiritual awareness — is bringing much-needed transformation to the vaunted Whisky A Go Go,


Are we laughing at 2011 or 2012? Either way, count us in for a giggly champagne toast at the Count Down Comedy Bash at the Laugh Factory,; or catch comedy duo Devin and Joel, freshly returned from a USO stint in Italy and Afghanistan, at Flappers Comedy Club, Who could resist Jay & Silent Bob’s New Year’s Eve Poker Classic? Take on Jay & Silent Bob in this comedic elimination tournament, and the top 10 winners take home prize packages at the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club, Over at the L.A. Connection Comedy Theater, veteran all-stars of the club perform an improvised short-form show inspired by TV’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” based on suggestions from the audience,