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Holiday Guide

Eve of Destruction

Options to ring in the new year with the tykes, the bros, or the drunks

Photo: Ana Benaroya, License: N/A

Ana Benaroya


New Year’s Eve in Baltimore is a magical night, a night of wonder, a night of spectacle, a night where you can fire your pistol into the air and no one will notice over the sounds of all the other pistols being fired into the air. New Year’s Eve in Baltimore is quite simply one of the best 365 days in a non-leap Baltimore year.

Now, many of you are wondering, Hey, City Paperites (Paperers? Paperazzi?), why are you bothering to help us make New Year’s Eve plans as the world is going to end on Dec. 21? I mean, the Mayan calendar ends that day, so the world has gotta end, just like it didn’t exist before the Mayan calendar started, in 3113 B.C.E. And when Quetzacoatl raises his great, terrible, and predominantly feathery head from his ancient slumber, he’s going to be super-hungry and I hear he digs seafood, so you know he’s going to come here and eat the aquarium or something. Fine questions, City Papereaders (Paperinos? Paperonis?), but we’re pretty convinced this whole thing was just a scam to sell more Mayan calendars. (I’ve already ordered 2013-7139 Mayan Kitten-a-Day calendar. Of course, at 1,870,625 pages, shipping from Tikal is a bitch.)

Since we’ve got that cleared up, let’s get down to brass tacks and help you ring that new year in right. When the ball drops at 12, you’re gonna wanna look your best—fancy hat, noisemakers, stuff that makes you look like you escaped from a frat party in 1973—so why not start the day at the Maryland Science Center for Midnight Noon? The Science Center is pulling out all the stops with the kid’s band Milkshake rockin’ in the noon-year ball drop. And did I mention crafts? 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. is party-hat and noisemaker workshopping. Sure, the kids could make hats for themselves, but I say take your little ones or borrow the niece and nephew and put them to work for you. With their tiny, dexterous fingers hard at work, you’ll be the best dressed and loudest lout at the party.

On the other hand, if you’ve got little ones but feel that child labor is best left to Indonesia, how about Noontime New Year Superhero Spectacular with Eric Energy at Port Discovery? Kids (and parents) are encouraged to wear their favorite costumes and ring in the new with plenty of heroic events and a countdown starting at 11:45 A.M. You’ll feel like a real time-traveling super-dude getting to watch the ball drop twice in one day, and the juice-and-cookie toast will provide plenty of sustenance to get you through what will surely be a very long evening.

Now, late night, you could head home, grab a volleyball wrapped in Christmas lights and a Ouija board and summon the ghost of Dick Clark, but for the truly adventurous, or maybe ridiculous, try riding that noontime juice buzz until the adult festivities kick off at Power Plant Live. Their oddly named New Year’s Eve 2013 (isn’t New Year’s Eve still in 2012?) is $95 ($110 after the 24th) and gets you “gourmet” food and open bar at nine of Live’s most fantastical boozeries. There’ll be live entertainment, drunken Towson University students, vomiting, near-brawls, and skirts shorter than Mitt Romney’s victory party.

If you want to witness the mayhem but are looking for something a little less douchey, Rams Head Live is going to be rocking to the “Jamtronic” sounds of Lotus. If you’re not familiar with Lotus’ Jamtronic sound, imagine a wedding band that went on a Phish tour and has been playing for an hour but doesn’t yet realize the acid they dropped is just paper. Tickets are $42.50 in advance, $50 at the door.

But if you’re looking for something a little more club-tastic Big Night Baltimore might just be your ($99.99 all-inclusive) ticket! The Sheraton City Center will be transformed for Baltimore’s “Hottest New Year’s Eve Gala.” There will be eight party zones! Nine if you include the party zone in the pants of that guy dancing way too close! There will be food! There will be fun! There will be enough booze to drown a herd of mammoths! And how about that entertainment! Four dance floors, 10 bands and DJs including DJ KayJay from Playboy magazine (“Act Type: Band”)! Still haven’t bought your ticket? Let me quote the website, “Baltimore’s BIGGEST midnight celebration (With the biggest balloon drop, toast, etc.)” No word on whether that’s many balloons or just one huge balloon, but do you want to tell your friends you missed the biggest etc.?

If you’re looking for live music on New Year’s Eve and think a Baltimore New Year’s is best spent out of Baltimore, two of the best live bands on the planet will be in the area. The Drive-By Truckers and the North Mississippi Allstars Duo (a band at least three times better than the Central Mississippi Allstars Duo) will be in D.C. at the 9:30 Club. Tickets are $55 and they always tear it up. Here’s a tip: If you want to meet the band (or at least their security), get really drunk and stand right at the stage, yelling, “Steve McQueen! STEVE MCQUEEN! Play Steve McQueen!” only stopping occasionally to burp/heave. They love it.

If you’d rather move your entire groove thing and not just your semi-dreadlocked hippie-billie mop-top, you will find no better excuse to shake your moneymaker than the Roots at the Filmore in Silver Spring. We all know that New Year’s isn’t New Year’s without a sousaphone, and the Roots will have the sousaphoniest. It’s only $75, but worth thrice the price to get to see the Roots without having to fight the near-uncontrollable urge to whack Jimmy Fallon with a splintery longboat oar.

If you do like your Baltimore New Year’s in Baltimore, though, there are two events that every Baltimoron should do at least once. The first is the one party in Baltimore that draws all of Baltimore—old, young, white, black, Glen Burnie, Towson, even the occasional adventure-seeking Midwesterner who got a good deal at the Marriott. Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular at the harbor is the shit. Sure, it’s kinda cheesy, but it’s really good cheese. And nothing beats a big, sloppy, champagne-soaked smooch with your special someone backlit by fireworks over the harbor. If you want to class it up, try the 11th Annual New Year’s Eve Deck Party on the USS Constellation. It’s another all-inclusive with food, wine, and local beers for $75, and if your date gets drunk enough, you can convince him/her the fireworks mean the British are back and it’s time to man the cannon (if you know what I mean). If you can’t get laid under the threat of recolonization, you probably just can’t get laid. MTA is keeping the buses, subway, and Light Rail running until an hour after the fireworks, so even if you go home lonely, at least you can go home safely.

The other big-time hometown hootenanny is in Hampden and is the way-better option if you don’t have a date. The Miracle on 34th Street has been doing an impromptu ball drop for years. It only lasts a few minutes, but they drop a ball from the street lamp—usually within a few minutes of the actual New Year’s’. The best part is the mutton-chopped, middle-aged, giant, diapered Baby New Year. It’s all over and done in a few minutes, but the champagne flows freely, the locals get loco, and if you didn’t bring someone to kiss, someone will kiss you by accident. Afterward, Rocket to Venus is only a short crawl away or you can make the three-minute stumble to Frazier’s, which parties so hard there are people there still going from New Year’s Eve 2009.

Oh, and did I mention the great state of Maryland is letting the bars stay open past 2 A.M.? So if you don’t feel like any of the above craziness, you can just hit your local watering hole, find a good stool, settle into your Depends, and drink until you make an awkward pass at the coat rack. If you really want to party, keep going until you make it to third base and some guy hits you for the awful, awful things you’ve done to his parka. And finally, I’ll share my plans to give you some inspiration—but no stealing! I’m going to start my day in a bathtub full of Rumple Minze, you know, for my pores, and I’ll gargle while I bathe so I won’t have to brush my teeth in 2013. I’m gonna top it all off with a marathon viewing of my 13 favorite episodes of Magnum, P.I. timed to crescendo at midnight, with the big reveal that Higgins is really Robin Masters. 2013 is gonna ROCK!

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