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New Year's Eve Guide 

What's it going to be? Whether you want dinner, a party, or just a night of music, you've got no excuses for missing the fun this New Year's Eve. From east to west, downtown Cleveland to downtown Akron, the celebrations are plentiful throughout Northeast Ohio. Pick the one that's right for you, then get some rest -- you've got a long night ahead. Party on . . .

New Year's Eve listings and stories were compiled by D.X. Ferris.

DOWNTOWN

Agora Hesohi is San Francisco-based artist/producer Doug Martin, who plays, in his words, "music to love your family to, songs for awareness of being, and rhythms of great tunes." Also on the bill is Lovethang Boomin Sound System, 10 DJs who will join Hesohi, simultaneously spinning on three sets of turntables. Quite possibly your loudest New Year's option. 5000 Euclid Ave., 216-881-6700.

Blind Pig Speakeasy Abby Normal and the Detroit Lane will blow the doors off the Blind Pig, which is even more fun than the image may suggest. $20 per person includes music, favors, midnight champagne toast, and assorted merriment from 8 p.m. to 2:30. 228 West Sixth St., Warehouse Dist., 216-621-0001.

Boneyard Gateway The new year starts at 4 p.m. at the Boneyard. No cover, no frills, cheap refreshments. 748 Prospect Ave., 216-776-7777.

Century at the Ritz-Carlton Menu choices at 5 p.m., 9 p.m., and 11 p.m. seatings include Maine lobster, herb-crusted summer field-veal loin, and sautéed salmon. 1515 West Third St., 216-902-5255.

Classics $200 per person buys dinner, dancing, and a 10-course meal; $658 per couple buys overnight accommodations at a club-level floor of the Intercontinental Hotel, including dinner, a continental breakfast, cocktails, breakfast, and high tea on New Year's Day. 9801 Carnegie Ave., 216-707-4157.

The Clevelander Bar & Grill The Clevelander's evening package pulls no punches: $80 per person buys not just a buffet, but six hours of access to an unlimited top-shelf open bar. DJs will spin between sets by Carlos Jones and the PLUS Band. 834 Huron Rd., 216-771-3723.

Cloud 9 Superstar DJ Halo graces the ultra lounge New Year's Eve, spinning organic grooves and house. Packages include hors d'oeuvres by Circo/Zibibbo, drink tickets, party favors, and a midnight champagne toast. Tickets start at $65, and VIP arrangements are available. 1299 West Ninth St., 216-363-1113.

Hard Rock Café An affordable package includes music, midnight champagne toast, breakfast buffet, overnight accommodations at the Marriott Residence Inn, and late checkout. 9 p.m.-1 a.m., $99 per person, $109 per couple. 230 W. Huron Rd., Tower City Center, 216-535-4154.

Hilarities E. 4th Boston-based comedian Bill Burr headlines 7:30 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. shows at Hilarities. Packages start at $25, and range from a single comedy show to events, food, and beverages across the entire complex: hors d'oeuvres, live music, countdown from New York, midnight champagne toast, cabaret rock singers, strolling magicians, party favors, and a balloon drop. 2035 East Fourth St., 216-736-4242.

Holiday Inn Select Ballroom Northcoast Singles presents a lively evening featuring music from Total Recall, hors d'oeuvres, party hats, noisemakers, a balloon drop, and midnight champagne toast. Party package is $34; dinner and party, $55; hotel rooms start at $75. 1111 Lakeside Ave., 330-745-3175.

Howl at the Moon Cleveland's dueling pianos slug it out all night long. $10 includes a balloon drop, party favors, and midnight champagne toast. 2000 Sycamore St., 216-861-4695.

Improv Following dinner, John Bizarre provides comedy entertainment. Two shows: 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Packages run from $20 to $30. 2000 Sycamore St., 216- 696-4678.

Jillian's in the Flats The low-dough party starts at 8, with DJ and dancing. $5 per person includes a midnight champagne toast. 1148 Main Avenue, the Flats, 216-575-0300.

Jimmy's in the Flats Jimmy's 18th Annual New Year's Eve Party features DJ entertainment, four balloon drops, and favors. Cover is $5, and champagne splits are available. 1061 Old River Rd., Flats East Bank, 216-566-1460.

Karma/the Sugar Room "Effervescence" is the title for a night of plush, sensual revelry. Located in the former Culture Club complex, Karma hosts three DJs in three rooms. Ryan West spins Top 40, dance, and house. Bonita spins new-wave electro. Absolute plays house, Top 40, and dance favorites. 2000 Sycamore St., 216-781-2500.

Lancer's Noisemakers, party favors, dancing, and midnight champagne toast. For no cover, you can't beat it. 7707 Carnegie Ave., 216-881-0080.

Liquid Fuk the Tux 6, as you may have inferred by this point, is a casual affair with a casual price tag. $15 per person includes party favors and midnight champagne toast. DJ Brad will play a little bit of everything, and the venue's couches and seating are available for advance reservation. FtT 1-5 sold out, so advance tickets are recommended. 1212 West Sixth St., Warehouse Dist., 216-479-7717.

Luchita's Nautica Queen Cruise New Year's on the water includes a giant buffet, midnight champagne toast with a full bottle for each couple, favors, and different entertainment on each level. 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., $79.95 per person. Nautica, 9 p.m.-1 a.m.; dinner 9 p.m., cruising 10 p.m.-1 a.m. 2000 Sycamore St., 216-696-8888.

Odeon The big room hosts a DJ and dancing. Tickets are $55 per person in advance, $65 that day, and include beer, wine, midnight champagne toast, and favors. A cash bar is also available. 1295 Old River Rd., 216-574-2525.

Peabody's Peabody's New Year's F*in' Eve Party @ Peabody's is a wet and wild one. Kiss FM's Casper hosts a free midnight champagne toast as the movie screen displays the Times Square ball drop. Wednesdays are college ID night, and complimentary champagne is included with $10 cover. 203 E. 21 St., 216-776-9999.

Pirate's Cove Rock in the new year with ringing ears, courtesy of indie-rockers Wake Up and modern-rockers Front Row for the Meltdown. The all-ages show starts at 9, and tickets are $6. 2083-1/2 E. 21st St., 216-664-0867.

Powerhouse Pub & Cabaret Nostradamus New Year's Eve features psychics, Tarot, astrology, crystal clairvoyance, graphology, and more fun that reaches beyond the corporeal plane. For those of you stuck there, DJ Bear will spin dance music, and $75 per person ($140) includes all of the above and hors d'oeuvres buffet. Powerhouse at Nautica, Flats West Bank, 440-888-6959.

Riverwalk Riverwalk's intimate dining experience includes a full menu and special selections: pan-seared ahi tuna, cold-water lobster tail, riverside surf and turf, and chicken en croute. Dinner receipt includes free admission to Shooters or Karma. 2000 Sycamore St., 216-241-9255.

Rock Bottom Brewery Rock Bottom's Mardi Gras Party includes a four-course meal. The party portion of the evening includes midnight champagne toast, beads, beads, more beads, an open bar, and a balloon drop. Dinner 5-8 p.m., $40; party 9 p.m.-1 a.m., $60. 2000 Sycamore St., 216-623-1555.

Second City Second City Cleveland's final New Year's Eve: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Weapons of Mass Destruction features new and classic comedy sketches, in addition to SC's legendary improv. Show starts at 10 p.m.; $99 per person includes full-course dinner and midnight champagne toast. 2037 East 14th St., 216-771-8403.

Shooters on the Water The Flats restaurant will host a round of evening seatings, when guests may order from the menu. Party-only admission is $10 per person after 9 p.m., with a midnight balloon drop. Also: Kids can enjoy the spectacular view from 2-5 p.m., as the restaurant will host a buffet designed with kids in mind, featuring hot dogs, chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, and other favorites. Family activities close with a 5 p.m. balloon drop. 1148 Main Ave., 216-861-6900.

Spy Roar in '04 1920s style. The evening's title is "The Beautiful and the Damned," and Fitz's Jay Gatsby himself could have planned this one, a speakeasy night complete with flapper gals and bathtub gin. The staff will be costumed, and things will get hot. DJs will spin everything from downtempo to hip-hop in themed rooms, and look out for a late-night flapper show. Doors open at 8 p.m. 1261 West Sixth St., Warehouse Dist., 216-621-7907, thespybar@aol.com.

Tramp At Tramp's Naughty New Year's Eve Celebration, $40 includes midnight champagne toast and live entertainment. Valet parking and booth packages are available. 1390 West Ninth St., Warehouse Dist., 216-776-7777.

2527 On a regular night, 2527's refined vibe is so warm, it's cool. On a regular night, Blues on Purpose belt out an irresistibly danceable fusion of blues, soul, and everything else that swings. Imagine the scene on the biggest party night of the year. $25 per person includes hors d'oeuvres, hats, noisemakers, and midnight champagne toast. 2527 West Sixth St., 216-771-2527.

Waterstreet Grill France's DJ T-BY spins salsa, samba, meringue, and reggae all night long. An early dinner seating runs from 5-7 p.m., followed by a celebration including a contemporary tapas buffet, midnight champagne toast, balloon drop, and giveaways. Waterstreet's second annual New Year's Day brunch runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and features an eclectic food menu, Mimosas, and a Bloody Mary bar. 1265 West Ninth St., Warehouse Dist., 216-619-1598.

Wilbert's Kick off the new year with rock, rhythm, and soul by Catwalkblue. Show starts at 9 p.m., and $8 cover includes midnight champagne toast and favors. 812 Huron Rd. E., 216-902-4663.

Windows on the River at Powerhouse Nautica Ring in the new year with upscale dinner and dining at Windows. Park Place provides live music, and an all-inclusive package covers an all-night open bar, midnight champagne toast, balloon drop, and overnight accommodations at the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center. 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., $110 per person. $219 per couple, $348 room package. 2000 Sycamore St., 216-861-1445.

Wish DJs Rob Black and Mike Metz will spin house, dance, and hip-hop on Wish's three floors. Balloons that drop through the evening will contain special surprises. Hors d'oeuvres available all night. 621 Johnson Ave., Warehouse Dist., 216-902-WISH.

Velvet Dog The Dog offers two options. $35 per person includes favors and midnight champagne toast; $125 per person/$200 per couple includes an all-night open bar and appetizer buffet prepared by Sushi Rock. 1280 West Sixth St., Warehouse Dist., 216-664-1116.

EAST

Club Mapletree DJ T Love rings in the new year, part of a package that includes a dinner buffet. $15 per person, $25 per couple. 5120 Warrensville Center Rd., Maple Heights, 216-332-1760.

Eastlake Tavern DJ Johnny will spin dance music and hits from the '90s and '00s all night long. Tickets are $10 ADV and $ 15 DOS, entitling the bearer to free pool, games, and a fried-appetizer buffet. 33274 Vine St., Eastlake, 440-602-9985.

Executive Caterers at Landerhaven Special Blend and Sammy DeLeon and his Orchestra will provide entertainment. $190 per couple includes an open full bar, midnight champagne toast, food stations, and a sweet table. 6111 Landerhaven Drive, Mayfield Hts., 440-449-0700.

Fire Passionate jazz-blues vocalist Barbara Barrett will perform sets from 6 to 10 p.m., and the cozy Shaker Square loft will remain open through midnight. Fire's regular menu will be available, as will champagne. 13220 Shaker Square, 216-921-3473.

Geppetto's Bar Grill A VJ rings in the new year, hosting a gathering that includes giveaways, favors, and a midnight buffet. 4350 Mayfield Rd., South Euclid, 216-691-1000.

Grog Shop A regular set by Moon the Giant sees relentless crowd participation, so imagine a Moon party in the middle of Grog's Masquerade Ball. Songsters Finlzess Brown and Matt Gerovac also play. Event kicks off at 9 p.m., $10 cover, costume optional. 2785 Euclid Hts. Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216-932-1966.

Jillian's (Cleveland Hts.) $5 per person includes a midnight champagne toast, with DJ and dancing. 12459 Cedar Rd., Cleveland Hts., 216-397-0900.

Jillian's (Youngstown) The Rage will play live music as part of a $20 package that includes unlimited game play, a dinner buffet, favors, and midnight champagne toast. Youngstown, Southern Park Mall. 7401 Market St., 330-629-8556.

JJ's Funky Monkey No cover and free midnight champagne toast for the subterranean club that's split between a dance floor and game room. 7835 Broadview Rd., Seven Hills, 216-328-9300.

Karma on Coventry La Cave du Vin An evening in the snug confines of La Cave du Vin costs $75 per person -- a package that includes a sushi buffet, hors d'oeuvres, midnight champagne toast, and open bar from 9 p.m. until close. 2785 Euclid Hts. Blvd., Cleve. Hts., 216-932-6411.

Night Town Homegrown jazz-trumpet phenom Dominick Farinacci will play from 7 p.m. to 1. Night Town will offer specials in addition to its regular menu. Admission is $20. 12387 Cedar Rd., Cleveland Hts., 216-795-0550.

Painesville Township Park Community Center Lake Metroparks presents Ballroom Dancing at the Painesville Township Park Community Center, with Billy Kaye performing standards of yesteryear. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.; band plays from 9:30 p.m. to 1. Party includes a hot buffet, favors, beverages, midnight champagne toast, balloon drop, and pastries. Tickets are $30 per person in advance, $35 per person at the door. 1025 Hardy Rd., Painesville Twp., 440-358-7275.

Redhawk Grille The evening's dress code is casual, but the menu has some special gourmet items. Dinner runs from 5 p.m. to 11, though the party runs all night long. Reservations are available. Champagne toast at midnight. 7481 Auburn Rd., Concord Twp., 440-354-4040.

Rick's Cafe Enjoy the tunes that the bands humbly describe as "the best classic rock and blues in the universe," as the Waterband and Rebels Without Applause set up shop at Rick's. 86 N. Main St., Chagrin Falls, 440-247-7666.

Scalpers Party from 9 p.m. to shortly after midnight. DJ, buffet, drink vouchers, and midnight champagne toast. As always, there's a big game room and a bigger dance floor. $35 per person. 5718 Mayfield Rd., Lyndhurst, 440-442-3577.

Willoughby Brewing Co. Ring in the new year with live rock and the handcrafted beers of the county's premier brewpub. Food from the kitchen is available beyond the midnight champagne toast. 4057 Erie St., Willoughby, 440-975-0202.

WEST

Around the Corner Ring in the new year with Rock Shop. Party favors are complimentary, as is the midnight champagne toast. No cover. 18616 Detroit Rd., Lakewood, 216-521-4413.

Belarusan-American Party Center The Belarusan Center's first seven New Year's Eve parties sold out -- the massive community gathering runs from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. $60 per person includes an open bar, midnight champagne toast, all-you-can-eat buffet, continental breakfast, raffles, a chance to win over 40 door prizes, and music by Star DJ. 11022 Webster Rd., Strongsville, 330-220-1129.

Bounce/Union Station Video Café Union Station and Bounds offer dancing and cocktails all night, with further options ranging from no cover to a full dinner. 2814 Detroit Ave., 216-276-6433.

Capsule Mp3J Garvey will play "everything fun and underground" -- which translates to punk, glam, rock, and electro before and after a complimentary midnight champagne toast. No dress code and no cover, though dinner for two is an option. $40 buys couples a five-course dinner, with choice of vegetarian, vegan, or carnivorous fare. Reservations are preferred. 13376 Madison Ave., Lakewood, 216-227-7853.

CC Mall at Lorain County Community College Parties at school during break may be small, but they're fun-dense. Watching the ball drop in Times Square is the least of this affair: Volatile Blue play loud alt-rock, and DJs Tom S. and Jimmy James spin live hip-hop. $5 lets you dance as much -- or as little -- as you care to. Lorain County Community College, 1005 Abbe Rd., Elyria; 440-366-4076.

Cleveland Public Theatre's Gordon Square Theatre Celebrate the eve in Cleveland's oldest standing theater, which inches closer to a century of fine arts. Don't bother renting a tux or buying a corsage. $25 per person in advance, $35 that day includes hors d'oeuvres from top area restaurants, performance and visual artists, DJ Anonymous, and indie film on big screens, and more. 6415 Detroit Ave., 216-631-2727.

Club Marxx Club Marxx's first-ever New Year's Eve celebration is semiformal, setting the mood for appetizers, favors, and a midnight champagne toast. Live comics will emcee between tracks in an all-night dance party featuring hot hip-hop, Top 40, and R&B. 619 Griswold Rd., Elyria, club: 440-324-9554; reservations: 440-310-0171.

Dave & Buster's Donkey Kong has been taunting you since 1982, and it ends tonight. $50 per personbuys music from a DJ, dancing, a $10 powercard, favors, hors d'oeuvres, buffets, and tableside magic. $225 per couple includes transportation to and a room at the Courtyard Marriott. 25735 First St., Westlake, 440-892-1415.

Game Time Entertainment Complex The party runs from 7 p.m. until 3 a.m., offering a full buffet dinner and dessert table, in addition to favors, midnight champagne toast, and a continental breakfast. Game time will also present a late party for police, EMS workers, nurses, and doctors from 6 a.m. until noon, New Year's Day. 2831 Apple Ave., Lorain, 440-246-4949.

Hampton Inn Hampton Inn's Romance Package includes accommodations for two, a bottle of champagne, hors d'oeuvres, favors, hats, a deluxe continental breakfast, and a 2 p.m. late checkout -- all for a humble $109. 25105 Country Club Blvd., North Olmsted, 440-734-4477.

The Harp Or, as they say, the Haaap, proudly hosts the Boys From County Hell. A mere $5 cover gets you in the door, where party favors will be provided, and the kitchen and bar will be open for business. 4408 Detroit Ave., 216-939-0200.

Hi-Fi Low-key New Year's at the Hi-Fi: A free show by Cleveland varsity rockers Amps II Eleven kicks off at 9 p.m. 11729 Detroit Ave., 216-521-8878.

Highland Square Tavern The tavern features a special menu, offering a bacon-wrapped filet and lobster, a baked quarter chicken with tequila lime sauce, pan-fried trout with herbal glaze, and vegetable lasagna. Festivities include a DJ, favors, midnight champagne toast, and balloon drop. 11634 Madison Ave., Lakewood, 216-472-0925.

Holiday Inn Westlake Overnight accommodations are $229 per couple, including a full bar, hors d'oeuvres, dinner buffet, midnight champagne toast, DJ, and dancing. 1100 Crocker Rd., Westlake, 440-871-6000.

Kimo's Sushi Shop Kimo's specializes in party trays and catering, and features unique noodle dishes and specialty rolls. The shop also offers sushi classes on Tuesdays and Saturdays -- make your reservation now. 1885 Fulton Rd., 216-631-7463.

Mad Cactus Watch the ball drop on TV while you enjoy a complimentary champagne toast. The jukebox will be free all night long, offering a variety of rock, country, and oldies. 9175 Pearl Rd., Strongsville, 440-234-RIBS.

Manja New Year's Eve at Manja features a special relaxed atmosphere, midnight champagne toast, and party favors. 13373 Madison Ave., Lakewood, 216-221-5445.

McCarthy's Ale House The Breakfast Club will play hits from the '80s, loosening up the crowd in conjunction with the house specialty -- "cheap-ass drinks." 16918 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-228-1340.

Modä Tribal-house DJ Krammer will fly in from San Francisco for the evening, backing up the capable resident DJs Sammy O and G-Spot. A split of champagne is included in the $25 per-person admission, which also provides free sushi and a confetti drop. Proper attire is mandatory. 1871 West 25th St., 216-781-3805.

McGinty's Two open bars will run from 8 p.m. to midnight, a dinner buffet will run from 8-10 p.m., and hors d'oeuvres will be available through the rest of the evening. $35 per person includes favors and midnight champagne toast. 13751 Madison Ave., Lakewood, 216-226-1770.

Oberlin Inn Guests will dine in the candlelit dinner room, choosing from a menu that includes slow-roasted prime rib, quiche, and breaded shrimp. Elegant Entertainment will provide music to dance to. $244 a couple includes overnight accommodations, brunch the next day, and a noon checkout. 7 N. Main St., Oberlin, 800-376-4173.

Quality Catering One of the city's premier party-rock bands, Empire isn't afraid to mix with the crowd until the festivities are worked into a mild lather. The band will play rock and oldies from 9 p.m. to 12:30. $50 per person includes a buffet and a late continental breakfast; the evening is BYOB. 9200 Pearl Rd., Strongsville, reservations: 440-234-RIBS, details, 440-243-4280.

Warren Tavern The warm Lakewood tavern carries over 300 beers, and while you may be tempted to try them all in one evening, we heartily oppose the idea -- even though it sounds fun. Festivities include favors, a deli tray, and midnight champagne toast. 14805 Madison Ave., Lakewood, 216-529-0130.

SOUTH

Astrodome Astrodome's first New Year's Eve party features blazing sets by the City Heat band, in addition to family-style entrées, full supporting courses, midnight continental breakfast, a drink ticket, and midnight champagne toast. Evening attire, please. 6 p.m-1 a.m., $55 per person. 5720 State Rd., Parma, 440-886-6800.

Avalon Event Center Blue Angels and Splash Show Band provide the soundtrack to a grand buffet and food stations hosting a wide variety of appetizers, salads, seafood, dessert, and everything in between. $95 per person includes an open bar. Festivities run from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. 11409 State Rd., N. Royalton, 440-582-1987.

Bunker's Sports Bar and Grill The vast sports bar and grill will host Alex Bevan, Lake Erie's answer to Jimmy Buffett. The evening will last from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., and $65 per person includes a prime-rib dinner buffet, crab legs, potato choice, salad, vegetable, dessert, midnight champagne toast, three drink coupons, and a chance to win door prizes. Indoor golf, pool, darts, and foosball are also included in the package. 3062 Pearl Rd., Medina, 330-725-1400.

Carrie Cerino's The Bruno Brothers will perform all night long -- and so will the kitchen staff, serving up a classic buffet that includes prime rib, chicken Marsala, and breaded pork chops to tide revelers over until the 1 a.m. continental breakfast. $99 per person includes an open bar and midnight champagne toast. 8922 Ridge Rd., N. Royalton, 440-237-3434.

Fahrenheit Fahrenheit's early seating starts at 5:30, and the $65-per-person package includes five courses, appetizers selection, choice of soup or salad, choice of entrées, and dessert. Starting at 8:30 and running through midnight, the second seating will feature surprises from Chef Rocco Whalen in two additional courses. $115 per person also includes a glass of champagne upon arrival and another at midnight. Ron Ellington Shy will play jazz piano. 2417 Professor St., 216-781-8858.

Four Points by Sheraton Cleveland South $299 per couple includes a DJ, open bar, party favors, midnight champagne toast, overnight stay, morning breakfast buffet, parking, tax, and gratuity, and perhaps most important: 3 p.m. late checkout. 5300 Rockside Rd., Independence, 216-524-0700.

Holiday Inn Independence The hotel's Impulse lounge will host live music from Avenue Five. $295 per couple includes overnight hotel accommodations, an open bar, favors, midnight champagne toast, hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, a pasta station, roast beef, and turkey. A New Year's Day breakfast precedes a 2 p.m. checkout. 6001 Rockside Rd., Independence, 216-524-8050.

Lockkeepers Lockkeepers offers a five-course menu from Executive Chef Morgen Jacobsen, followed by dessert table by pastry chef Wendy Thompson. The 5-8 p.m. seating is $75 per person; the 9 p.m. seating is $125 per person. Lounge duo extraordinare Rick and Sharona will provide music for both. 6190 Canal Rd., 216-524-9404.

Lamplighter Inn The Bradford White band plays hot rock. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, and include food, favors, and midnight champagne toast. Pearl & Olde York Rd., Parma, 440-845-7987.

Phase II/Studio 42 Phase II/Studio 42 has both kinds of music -- country and western. Have a rip-roarin' country New Year with live music by the Curtis Brothers. $10 per head includes a continental breakfast, champagne, and favors. 801 Pearl Rd., Brunswick, 330-225-2662.

St. Paul's Helenic Center Backstreet and a DJ will play music from 7 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.. $55 per person includes hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, a three-meat family-style dinner, midnight champagne toast, beer, wine, soda, tax, and gratuity; BYOL. 4548 Wallings Rd., N. Royalton, 440-582-1083.

AKRON AREA

Babylon With a Roaring '20s theme, Babylon will convert to a speakeasy for an evening that includes a balloon drop, midnight champagne toast, food, and surprises. 820 West Market St., Akron, 330-252-9000.

Iron Saddle Say goodbye to 2002 to the sound of two live rock bands, party favors, a buffet, and midnight champagne toast. Tickets are $25 per person. 137 E. South St., Akron, 330-434-3157.

Jillian's (Akron) After the 4-8 p.m. family party (see Family Fun), $5 gets you in the door. Rock Bottom will play favorites in the big room, and DJ Mickey D will play music to swing dance to in the Blue Cat Lounge. 363 S. Main St., Akron, 330-252-0085.

Lime Spider Downtown Akron's indie-rock Mecca presents its second annual Not So New Year's Party. No dress code, no band, no cover, no countdown, no midnight champagne toast -- but the jukebox is free. 207 S. Main St., Akron, 330-762-2350.

Northside Acoustic-rock songstress Tracy Thomas will warm the stage for the blues-rock Whiskey Hounds, who organized the evening's festivities. $40 per person includes food and midnight champagne toast. 111 N. Main St., Akron, 330-434-7625.

O'Malley's O'Malley's New Year's Eve Bash starts at 7 p.m. and includes a DJ, hors d'oeuvres, favors, and champagne. 16161 Brookpark Rd., Brook Park, 216-267-6622.

Posh Ring in the new year at downtown Akron's swankiest new hot spot. Reservations are suggested. Doors open to the public at 8, and DJs will spin every kind of music you can dance to. Main & Exhange, Akron, 330-253-7777.

Tangier The Tangier entertainment complex offers four packages for the evening. The West Market Grille will offer a special menu; the Bistro will host an intimate party. Comedians Dan Grueter and Vince Morris will be the inaugural entertainers at Tangier's new comedy club, and the comedy show will be available as a stand-alone event or with a buffet. 532 W. Market St., Akron. 330-376-7171.

Tonight Tonight Tonight Tonight's New Year's throwdown runs from 7 p.m. until you can't take it anymore. A $40 package includes appetizer buffet, all-request DJ, dancing, midnight champagne toast, and favors. 7375 Royalton Rd., N. Royalton, 440-582-2000.

Twinstar Lanes Ball drops at midnight, and plenty happens before: The 9:30 p.m.-1 a.m. party includes all-you-can-roll Xtreme Bowling, pumping music, a buffet, and door prizes. The evening is $20 per person or $100 per lane; New Year's Eve is the busiest bowling night of the year, so reservations are a good idea. 224 SR 5, Kent, 330-673-1800.

Voodoo Voodoo kicks off 2004 early, with a pre-New Year's bash Saturday, December 27, $10 includes Cyde, Revel, Facemaker, Hideaway, Barium, Supafreak, a buffet, and midnight champagne toast. 153 E. Cuyahoga Falls Ave., 330-384-0749.

Zig's Pub

New Year's at Zig's begins at 6 p.m. and has no end in sight. Entertainment includes a DJ and karaoke; $25 per person/$45 per couple includes midnight champagne toast and a well-stocked buffet. 3415 Brookpark Rd., Parma, 216-749-5130.

FAMILY FUN

First Night Akron This massive, community-wide, family-oriented, alcohol-free celebration of the arts takes place in 19 downtown Akron buildings, on over 30 stages. This year, events range from live music to wedding ceremonies. Visit www.downtownakron.com for a complete schedule, or call 330-762-8555.

Shooters on the Water Kids can enjoy the spectacular view at from 2-5 p.m., as the restaurant hosts a buffet designed with kids in mind, featuring hot dogs, chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, and other favorites. It all leads up to a 5 p.m. balloon drop. For adults, the restaurant will host a round of later seatings, when guests may order from the menu. Party-only admission is $10 per person after 9 p.m. Midnight will feature a balloon drop.

Jillian's (Akron) Jillian's Family New Year's Party runs from 4 to 8 p.m. Kids' meals are half-price with paying adult. Fun, favors, and free game play should have them plum tuckered out, so you can stay up late. 363 South Main St., Akron, 330-252-0085.

WHAT TO WEAR

Devereaux For Your Fashion Emergency 'Nuff said. Specializing in cool clothing, Devereaux offers a new you for 2004. 2867 Center Ridge Rd., Westlake, 440-892-0019.

Tuxedo Warehouse Celebrate the new year with style you can afford. From now until Valentine's Day, all tux rentals are half off, and tuxes are on sale, starting at $249. Extra bargains can be had December 20 and 27, at Tuxedo Warehouse's annual warehouse sale. 31525 Aurora Rd., Solon, 440-349-0070.

THE UGLY DRUNK

Avoid the dreaded hangover, or at least learn to live with it.

Kamikazes taste like lemonade and Mudslides go down like chocolate milk, so even if you're taking it easy, hangovers have a way of creeping up on you. Don't wait till it's too late: Have your anti-hangover game plan ready. This handy clip-'n'-save guide includes tips to follow before you party, as well as damage-control measures once you're done. Good luck.

Before it's too late:

Fuel up: Don't go out on an empty stomach. Before you hit the club, eat half a pizza or stop off for a sandwich. And super-size it. Once you're done, pop a mint -- and save one in case things get ugly later.

Water down: Alcohol dehydrates your system, and the ice in your Tequila Sunrise doesn't fix it. Try alternating smaller glasses of aqua with your drinks. Or at least down a big one before passing out.

Get it out: Not puking may save you some face at the party, but it'll be cold comfort at best when you're nursing the Hangover of the Year. If you feel like hurling, get it over with. Just don't make a mess.

Refuel: If the damage has been done, get some food in your system, but take it easy. Try something starchy. Start with toast. If the thought of eggs and bacon makes you queasy, try ramen noodles.

Add sugar: Sugar gives you energy, and alcohol sucks the sugar out of your system. Replenish it with something sweet -- Mountain Dew, orange juice, Slush Puppy, Zinger, whatever.

Damage control:

Bite the dog: Drink a nutrient-rich Bloody Mary, or have a pint of this British concoction: Blend together -- in this order -- 2 teaspoons of cocoa mix, 2 eggs, 2 shots of gin, 1/3 pint of Guinness, 1/3 pint of milk, and 1/3 pint of orange juice. You can eat it with a spoon, but you'll probably want to chug it.

Pop pills: If you have objections to aspirin or Tylenol, try the herbal route: Have two artichoke-extract pills before you go out, two before bed, and two in the morning. Guaranteed Miracle Recovery* will ensue.

* Individual results may vary.

GET IN THE ZONE

Once you're out, the goal is to be the super you. And getting into that right frame of mind is all about preparation -- specifically, setting the mood. Chill-out and downtempo are great to wind down to, but they're also the perfect soundtrack to the calm before the storm. Area DJ Misterbradleyp suggests these cold cuts:

Four Tet, rounds (Domino)

Rithma, Music Fiction (Om)

Bonobo, Dial M for Monkey (Ninja Tune)

Spinna, Here to There (BBE)

Various Artists, Verve Remixed 2 (Verve)

TM Juke, Maps From the Wilderness (Tu Thoughts)

J Boogie, J Boogie's Dubtronic Science (Om)

Badly Drawn Boy, Age of the Bewilder-beast (XL)

Deyampert Giles, Shapes & Colors (Sonar Kollektiv)

King Britt, Adventures in Lo Fi (BBE)

DON'T FORGET THE MUSIC

If you're planning a do-it-yourself New Year's Eve, know two things: Half of any good party is having enough ice. The other half is good music. The right album sets the tone, takes the vibe in an all-new direction, or finds common ground for the whole room. If the mood starts to lag, reach for one of these tried-and-true platters:

Tapping P-Funkadelic's best hooks, Dr. Dre distills funk's greatest grooves into one of hip-hop's densest hours.

Slide in Bennett's elegant set, and any party feels like a black-tie affair.

Kid's unconventional hybrid of country, rap, metal, and southern rock is the one thing partygoers in cowboy boots and hoodies can agree on.

Various Artists, 24-Hour Party People Soundtrack (Rhino)

Not an edge has dulled on the best cuts from three decades of cutting-edge party music, from New Order to the Happy Mondays.

The Strokes, Is This It (RCA)

Rock you can dance to, even if you can't dance.

Various Artists, Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction Soundtracks (MCA)

The background music to these Quentin Tarantino flicks was so cool, it helped make retro the new new.

Rusted Root, Cruel Sun (Ignition)

Irresistible beats that are beyond tribal -- they're primordial.

Various Artists, Trainspotting (#1) Soundtrack (Capitol)

Jam-packed with accessible electronica, chilled selections, and timeless big-big-big-beat classics like Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life."

Dressy Bessy, Dressy Bessy (Kindercore)

Fun pop. Like, the funnest pop. Like, the dancing kids in the Charlie Brown Christmas special aren't having this much fun.

White Stripes, Elephant (V2/BMG)

Yeah, they're near the top of every year-end list, but they're there for good reason: They rock.

Beck, Odelay (Geffen)

Beck's boundless funk is more or less the offspring of James Brown and the Beastie Boys, and it works the crowd accordingly.

ORDER WITH CLASS

You're at the bar, and the crowd ordering drinks is three-deep, each of them waving money to get the bartender's attention. The guy holding a crisp twenty turns to you and says, "What do I have to do to get this guy's attention?" Clint Holley, a bartender at the Beachland and 12-year veteran of the service industry, offers some pointers on what to do -- and more important, what not to do.

The Don'ts

Don't wave money. Wait your turn. They'll get to you. "If you make some kind of display, you'll be ignored," says Holley.

Don't snap your fingers at your server, and don't whistle. They're methods of communication invented for training dogs. Try it with a bartender, and you may never drink again.

The Clark Griswold school of etiquette says that you're creating friendly rapport with your server when you use nicknames like "Tex," "Boss," "Homes," "Hoss," or "Hon." You aren't.

The Do's

Tip big up front. Announce your presence with the gift of cash, and you've just bought yourself a powerful new friend. "Some people save up for a big tip at the end of the night, and by then you look cheap," says Holley. "Tip big up front, and your drinks will get stronger as the night goes on."

Realize that there are other customers in the establishment.

Be cool. Make conversation when it's slow, and you'll be remembered when it's busy. But know your limits. "Some people are funny when they're drunk," says Holley. "But most people aren't."

Be ready. Holley says people will wait 10 minutes for a drink, fuming -- and then burn another 5 figuring out what they need and fumbling for their credit card. "Have your order all together before you," says Holley. "Know what you need, and have your money ready."

Know how to communicate before you get your chance to talk to the bartender:

-- Having money clearly displayed in your hand is a tactful signal that lets the bartender know that you're ready for action.

-- Placing an empty drink toward the inside of the bar is a good way to get a bartender's attention.

-- If you've been handed a folding check presenter and you're ready to leave, let the edge of your credit card or cash protrude. If it's not in plain view, your server will assume you're not ready.

HOW GUYS BECOME MEN

Formal is the new casual. From New Year's Eve cocktail parties to eighth-grade dances, black-tie affairs are on the rise, and so are tuxedo rentals. And to paraphrase the late, great Francis Albert Sinatra, It's not the tux; it's how you wear it. Erin, a manager at American Commodore Tuxedo's Solon shop, offers some advice that can make the difference between wearing the suit and the suit wearing you. "Make sure you have all the little details down," she says.

Get a real bowtie. Clip-on ties are easy, but they're not your best option. "When you open the box and look at the directions, it looks really difficult," Erin says. "But ask someone at the store to show you how to tie it. Once someone's shown you, it's like tying your shoe."

"You never wear a belt with a tuxedo," says Erin. Any questions?

Shoes make the man. "Don't just pull out old, black shoes," says Erin. "You definitely want nice, shiny shoes." Patent-leather wingtips are no longer mandatory, but you definitely want the kind of shoes that will respond to a good shining. Depending on your style and the event, even a pair of thick-soled Doc Martens may work.

A splash of color goes a long way. Find a handkerchief or piece of fabric that matches your vest or cummerbund, and put it in your jacket pocket. On second thought, make it match your vest; cummerbunds are for hotel lounge singers.

Increase the crease. If you own a tux -- and average rental is around $100; good tuxes can be had for around $200 -- you should maintain it properly: Make creases down the legs' middle front. And even though a gentleman keeps his jacket on through the entire evening, take the time to crease your sleeves. Starch your collar, but do the rest with elbow grease.

Use the studs and cufflinks. People like shiny things. "They're a little detail," Erin says, "but they're a big little detail."

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