New Year's Eve Events

As the coming new year begins to claw its way through the still-living carcass of the old one and citizens start jockeying for the best position from which to celebrate the consummation of this temporal abstraction, your crack team of Chronicle chrononauts is on the ball with the pertinent lowdown.

Never too busy mixing metaphors to work for the public good, our own Wells "Gin & Juice" Dunbar has corralled quite a few snazzy options to help you decide where you're going to 1) dance, 2) imbibe, 3) dine, 4) generally celebrate, 5) get your chrome-studded freak on, or 6) all of the above, as Austin keeps itself just as weird as ever even though the numbers on the calendar continue to change. -- Wayne Alan Brenner

Hotels & Resorts

AUSTIN MOTEL | HOTEL SAN JOSE The two things closer to you than the bars in either of these south-side sluggers are Jo's Coffee & El Sol y la Luna, providing the pick-me-up you will so desperately need upon awaking five minutes to checkout. Austin Motel: 1220 S. Congress, 441-1157. $60-143. Hotel San Josýe: 1316 S. Congress, 444-7322. $75-225.

INTERCONTINENTAL STEPHEN F. AUSTIN InterContinental is the operative word, and ol' Stephen's giving it to you bona fide flossers & ballers-on-a-budget alike. The latter may opt for the party in Stephen F.'s bar ($45), featuring food, music & drink, the InterContinental's four-course dinner ($99), and/or their New Year's Day champagne brunch ($48). But true hustlers can get it all, plus room, starting at $479. It only comes once a year, playboy! InterContinental Stephen F. Austin, 701 Congress, 457-8880. www.austin.intercontinental.com.

THE DRISKILL Austin's lauded landmark for high rollers is doing it up right this New Year's with a gang of sumptuous suppers & natty packages. Two gourmet dinners, one four-course, one seven-course(!), are offered at the grill, while their couples B&B bundle and romance package (the latter encompassing bubbly & choco-strawberries) both include a trip to the 1886 Cafe & Bakery come morning -- if you escape Col. Driskill in the grill with the champagne bottle. The Driskill, 604 Brazos, 474-5911. Five-course seating, $95; seven-course seating, $185; hotel accommodations, $270-355. www.driskillhotel.com.

RENAISSANCE AUSTIN HOTEL The Arboretum behemoth is hosting a posh soiree to usher in 2004 at Tangerine's, their flawless upscale bar. Couples seating begins at 7pm with a delish and fancy dinner buffet, while you lonely hearts may saunter in at 9:30pm and still enjoy party favors, the ubiquitous toast, and waves of retro, salsa, and swing DJing -- and Continental breakfast come 1am. All this in eyeshot of Austin's best shopping & noshing. Renaissance Hotel, 9721 Arboretum, 343-2626. $100 per couple; $20, individual; rooms starting at $89.

LAZY OAK BED & BREAKFAST it's aptly named and amply amiable, to help you take it easy into 2004. It's a comfortable, casual, perfect-night-away-from-home affair. Lazy Oak Bed & Breakfast, 211 Live Oak, 447-8873. $119, including breakfast. www.lazyoakbandb.com.

LAKE AUSTIN SPA RESORT To perennial pamperer & reader favorite LASR, relaxation is celebration, and we couldn't agree more. To end '03 stress-free, check on in, and enjoy cabaret-style entertainment from the cast of the acclaimed play I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change!, along with a delicious & guiltless gourmet dinner. Price includes spa activities and all your meals, so get in to win in the new year. Lake Austin Spa Resort, 1705 S. Quinlan Park, 372-7300. Rates starting at $895 per person for two nights. www.lakeaustin.com.

RADISSON HOTEL & SUITES Sitting beside scenic Town Lake in the nexus of Texas, the Radisson is seconds away from Sixth and South Congress, holds a hotel bar and TGI Friday's to exorcize your vices, and has ample hike & bike trailage nearby to kick-start your fitness-oriented resolutions. Radisson, 111 E. Cesar Chavez, 478-9611. $149 for a room with a Capitol view. www.radisson.com/austintx.

BARTON CREEK RESORT The Creek's Eve gala is the definiton of all-inclusive, with a four-course gourmet meal; the jazzy-swing sounds of Jacque Vilmain; champagne toast; and room, board, and breakfast, all in one of the most gorgeous locales in Austin. Now that sounds like the way to usher in '04. Barton Creek Resort, 8212 Barton Club, 329-4616. $168. www.bartoncreek.com.

BED & BREAKFAST POOL & SPA A warm, plush bed; chilled champagne; chocolate-covered strawberries and cream: It's the Bed & Breakfast Pool & Spa. Also included are silk & cotton robes, glowing candles, and a magnificent fireplace -- like you'll need any help generating some heat. Bed & Breakfast Pool & Spa, 1309 Meriden, 499-0081. $150-225. www.bnbspa.com.

CARRIAGE HOUSE INN Tressie Damron's Carriage House is nationally recognized as the B&B to beat. Choose one of six cozy enclaves, all including their renowned country breakfast -- just make sure to order one of their romance packages for you & yours to really work up an appetite. Carriage House Inn, 472-2333. $100-160. www.carriagehouseinn.org.

PARK LANE GUEST HOUSE Let the Park pamper away that unsavory '03 stress. This lovely locale features three beautiful rooms, great food, and their gorgeous Texas garden, all in centrally located Travis Heights. Extend your stay to four nights, for 10% off while you're at it. Did I mention New Year's goodies, too? Park it here for the evening. Park Lane Guest House, 221 Park Ln., 447-7460. $139-149. www.parklaneguesthouse.com.

ANCHOVIES Austin's destination for adventurous couples, premier swingers club Anchovies is throwing a formal, um, ball this New Year's. Tuxes and tails for the gents, evening attire & lingerie for the ladies. Hot hors d'oeuvres will be served; provide your own libations. Nonmembers must join at the door before entry. Anchovies, 7804 Springdale, 928-9876. $100 regular couples seating, $125 VIP seating. Membership starts at $50 for couples, $25 for women. No single male memberships. www.anchoviesaustin.com.

AUSTIN SOCIAL SCENE This singles' and couples' consortium has been at it for 12 years, throwing New Year's ball after bash. This year is no different, with the action starting at the DoubleTree Inn around 7:30. Party down to Taboo, the Crush, the Daddios, and Beamers. Austin Social Scene, 331-7890. $35; hotel packages starting at $159. www.austinsocialscene.com.


SPEAKEASY Round the alleyway to the Speakeasy's hidden entrance, and you'll find the swankiest send-off to aught-three. Rotel & the Hot Tomatoes bring the musical heat, the Easy provides the champagne, and you provide yourself, playa! 412 Congress, 476-8017. $50 VIP seating ($25, standing room). www.citysearch.com/aus/speakeasy.

CEDAR STREET COURTYARD The Warehouse District's self-proclaimed swinging gin joint is hosting the styling-R&B soul-sounds of the Atlantics for your listening pleasure. Kick back, sip a platinum blonde champagne cocktail and enjoy. 208 W. Fourth, 236-8776. $20. www.cedarstreetaustin.com.

BROWN BAR If it's Brown, party down! B-Deuce is back with a monochromatic bash, `a la their black and white party. The dress code is minimalist, but the entertainment isn't -- enjoy party favors, imbibe champagne and applaud DJ Baby G on the ones & twos starting at 9pm.201 W. Eighth, 480-8330. $10.

CONTINENTAL CLUB This stalwart south-side social club is bringin' the new year & ringin' in their own anniversary with a far-outta-sight night and midnight toast. The Damnations, Jon Dee Graham, and the Weary Boys make the noisemakers superfluous. 1315 S. Congress, 441-2444. $20. www.continentalclub.com/Austin.html.

DALLAS No, not the city, but the club. The country king of clubs, we daresay, with lots of partying music, special treats, and a midnight breakfast buffet that'll make you shout "Yee-haw!" or somesuch as the new year rides in. See you there, pardner. 7113 Burnet, 452-2801. $30 per couple. www.dallasnightclub.net.

CHARLIE'S The great-grandpappy of Austin's gay bars, Charlie's is opening at high noon for you early risers. The evening features six cash balloon drops, party favors and noisemakers, tons of free parking nearby, and a comp-toast served by (as voted by you Chronicle readers) the best bartenders in Austin. 1301 Lavaca, 474-6481. www.charliesaustin.com.

THE GOURDS MASQUERADE BALL The Gourds, in their resplendant bluegrass and cracked-americana glory, are invading the Parish for their third annual Masquerade Ball come the 31st. Aside from the tunes, incognito attendees may imbibe of a midnight toast and win door and costume prizes. Rustle up your tix online, as this country-cornucopia's sure to fill up fast. The Parish, 214 E. Sixth, upstairs, 478-6372. $20. www.frontgatetickets.com.

LOVEJOY'S We're not talking about a paltry flute of the bubbly here, noooo sir! While the aforementioned is included, along with some hearty hors d'oeuvre action, Lovejoy's is giving you an open bar. Best to get on this one quick, as only 100 reservations exist for you lucky hipsters in hoochland. 604 Neches, 477-1268. $50.

OILCAN HARRY'S The venerable, unstoppable Oilcan is once again demonstrating its beneficence to the gay & lesbian community it so lovingly serves -- by offering no cover and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. Big ups, Harry! 211 W. Fourth, 320-8823. www.oilcanharrys.com.

COMMON INTEREST KARAOKE BAR The Interest is dolin' out the traditional cornbread & black eyed peas (along with the gratis champagne toast) to remind us that we may not be dirty, but we're South all right. This doesn't excuse any "Freebird" renditions, mind you. 8440 Burnet Rd., 453-6796. $5.

MASQUERADE SOIREE BENEFITING LESBIAN/ GAY RIGHTS LOBBY OF TEXAS 1920s Club, that nonseedy speakeasy, is inviting you and yours to their soiree. Benefiting the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby, the theme is masquerade, so arrive in costume to score prizes. Buffet starts at 9pm, the toast is at midnight. See you (but won't recognize you) there! 1920s Club, 918 Congress, 474-5475. $35 ($30, in advance). www.lgrl.org.

EGO'S Hidden in plain sight for years, the ever-inviting Ego's is nestled away in relative anonymity on the start of South Congress -- perfect place for a raucous New Year's blowout! The special guests start things off, with Dale Watson heating things up in time for that there champagne toast. 8:30pm. 510 S. Congress, 474-7091.

POLLY ESTHER'S Tonight we're going to party like it's 1979. Polly's getting all lit up like their dance floor this New Year's, with a buffet and happy hour kicking off the evening, culminating in a 1,000-buck balloon drop to help usher your inner retro-sexual into 2004. 404 Colorado, 472-1975. $25. www.pollyesthers.com.

ELEPHANT ROOM That smoky & storied basement-abode of jazz, the Elephant Room, isn't letting up this New Year's; au contraire, they're featuring the sounds of skinsman extraordinare Brannen Temple, plus party favors and raised glass of champagne -- all the (big game?) trappings. 315 Congress, 473-2279. $12. www.arthive.net/elephant.

FIREHOUSE LOUNGE Only recently opened in August, Firehouse Lounge is celebrating their inaugural eve in style. Come see what the buzz is about and catch your own with a bottle of the bubbly. 605 Brazos, 478-3473. $25. www.thefirehouselounge.com.

JETSET NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY Part dance party, part art exhibit, and all hotel-stay & getaway, JetSet features the finest in hip-hop, house, and downbeat DJs, and includes a consortium of painters and photographers in its "Modern Portraits" show. Did I mention dinner with the trance-indental Godivina, the champagne toast, personalized wine bottles in your room, and New Year's Day brunch? Oh yeah! Hotel check-in at 3pm; dinner at 7:30pm; party at 10pm. Hilton Austin Airport Dr., 9515 New Airport Dr., 385-6767. Tickets: $60; hotel packages starting at $150. www.jetsetnewyears.com.

Theatre, Comedy, and More

HYDE PARK THEATRE NEW YEAR'S BASH features Lonely Highway madman Sloppy Sean, his smokin' band Hogwash, and the amazing Hans Frank. Hans Frank and the Sloppy One in one place at the same time? Amid all the frilled-up celebratin'? Hoo, this we gotta see! 8pm. Hyde Park Theatre, 511 W. 43rd, 479-PLAY. $15. www.hydeparktheatre.com.

ZACHARY SCOTT THEATRE Zach Scott's sending off the season with two of its most beloved shows, one in its final run. In the arena, we find David Sedaris' hilarious yuletide yarn of infamous belittlement, The Santaland Diaries, while the Kleberg stage sees one of the Flaming Idiots' farewell performances, as they juggle their way into that golden family entertainment haven in the sky. Don't miss them. 8pm. Zachary Scott Theatre, 1510 Toomey, 476-0594. $55. www.zachscott.com.

PAGEANT NEW YEAR'S GALA from Arts on Real isn't just the glitzkrieg of glamorous theatre their Pageant usually is, because this gilded New Year's edition features catered hors d'oeuvres, special cabaret performances, a silent auction, champagne, and all manner of audience-interactive fun, games, and prizes. Boys will be boys, of course, but when boys will also be girls it doesn't get much better than the Naughty Austin flavor of Pageant to ring in the next 12-month party. 8pm. Arts on Real, 2826 Real (behind Flatbed Press), 472-2787. $40 ($75, couple).

CAPITOL CITY COMEDY CLUB Featuring chuckle constructionists Eddie Gossling & Megan Mooney, the Capitol City's cranking out the craziness come New Year's with two shows -- with party favors, champagne, and a breakfast buffet after the late show. 8 & 10:30pm. Capitol City Comedy Club, 8120 Research, 467-2333. $21.50 (early show), $42.50 (late show). www.capcitycomedy.com.

GAG REFLEX AT THE HIDEOUT Comedic cutups (and really, are there any other types?) Gag Reflex are storming the Hideout with their new show, SPAMLET: The Two Gentlemen of Viagra. Watch as the troupe skewers Krispy Kreme-jonesing soccer moms! Win kooky door prizes! Pay only $25 for all the beer & wine you can drink, as you count down to '04 with the group in tow post-show. Whoa! 9:30pm. The Hideout, 617 Congress, 443-3688. $25. www.thehideout.org.

THE CAPITAL CITY MYSTERY PLAYERS present A New Year's Eve Cruise Ship Crime, an interactive comedy whodunit in which the audience tries to figure out who aboard the luxury ship Titanium stole the jewels and offed the murderee. Think sharp, theatregoers -- you've got a deckful of wacky characters from which to choose, and the fastest sleuth nabs a fabulous prize. There are two showtimes to choose from on this cliffhanger night: The early show includes a three-course meal; the late show fits you out with appetizers, dessert, and champagne. Salud! 7 & 10pm. Spaghetti Warehouse, 117 W. Fourth, 404-9123. $29.95.

KEITH & MARGO'S MURDER MYSTERY DINNER & DANCE is an immersion of improv actors interacting with the audience, between gourmet eats, drinks, & dancing, to determine whodunnit before the ball drops. But with luxe Omni Southpark as the locale, I see few truly rushing to leave the scene of the crime. 8:30pm. Omni Hotel Southpark, 4140 Governor's Row, 972/263-5178. $249-340 per couple. www.murdermysterytexas.com/austinNYE.html.

THE MURDER MYSTERY PLAYERS present, you guessed it, an interactive and comedic mystery for their audience to solve, complete with a four-course meal, champagne toast, prizes, and more. It's under the direction of Russell Wiseman, in a splendid gaming and dining emporium of which you may have heard. 7pm. Dave & Buster's, 9333 Research Ste. A-600, 346-8015. $130 per couple. www.daveandbusters.com.

AUSTIN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA WITH THE LETTERMEN The classic crooning pop trio drops into Austin for a two-night session of standards and beloved standbys guaranteed to get you (American) Bandstanding in short order. Conductor Peter Bay's backing up the boys with our orchestra, so you know it's gangsta. Tue.-Wed., Dec. 30-31, 8pm. Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Rd., 404-4020. $20. www.austinsymphony.org.

SIXTH STREET CELEBRATION If past preformance is any indication, expect a throng of adoring onlookers at Sixth and Congress to ring in the nouveau annum, with musical and laser accompaniment enough to put any self-respecting planetarium's Laser Floyd to shame. Sixth Street, Between I-35 and Congress. Free.

Something for the Kids

LAN'S EDGE You might wanna bring along an icepack for the kiddies' wrists, 'cause Lan's Edge is offering an evening of youth-centric adventure. From 10pm to 10am, bring your own computer (BYOC, to y'all in the know) or use one of LAN's for the extreme in nonstop computer gaming & tournamenting. Wed., Dec. 31., 10pm. Northcross Mall, 2525 W. Anderson, 275-0761. $35 ($25, BYOC). www.lansedge.com.

Hang on -- Help Is on Its Way

AMERICAN YELLOW CHECKER CAB Yellow Checker is truly checkin' for the greater Austin area, as they are offering free cab rides home for those prone to overindulgence. A valuable service that reminds us a little about that whole "peace on Earth, goodwill toward men" thing. Just make sure to tip, and tip well, before someone gets all Travis Bickle on your drunk ass. American Yellow Checker Cab Co., 452-9999.

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