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How to Party Properly on New Year's Eve

Whether you want to dance till morning or be in bed by midnight, we've got the rundown on the best events happening this year.

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Tom Jonesing

If celebrating what's new (pussycat) with none other than the Bay Area's premiere Tom Jones cover band at none other than Alameda's Number One tiki destination doesn't sound like your idea of a good time, well, you don't deserve to have one. Ticket price (which Forbidden Island helpfully reminds us is "cheaper than a flight to Vegas for a dinner show") covers hors d'ouvres, a light buffet, no fewer than three drinks, and, of course, the vocal and piano stylings of Tom Jonesing, aka "The Tickler" R and "Tantric Tom" Steffanos X, aka the BEST POSSIBLE THING to have in your eardrums as 2012 slips away. The show runs 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., after which the bar will be open to everyone (though TJ attendees get to skip the line if they leave and come back.) — E.C.

Details: At Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge (1304 Lincoln Ave., Alameda). 6 p.m., $75.

Drink of choice: Sex on the beach, obvs.

What to wear: Your finest leisure suit.

Hipster quotient: 0/5

Inebriation: 4/5

Meat market: 2/5 (extra credit for cougars)

Street Snacks and Dancing at Comal

Sometimes it seems like every restaurant in town on New Year's Eve has the same kind of ho-hum, overpriced prix-fixe dinner menu, the same flute of champagne for midnight toasting. For something different, consider heading over to Comal, where starting at 9 p.m., the stylish Mexican eatery will clear out all its tables for a Latin-and-funk dance party that, weather permitting, should spill out onto the restaurant's beautiful back patio. Meanwhile, chef Matt Gandin will keep a selection of special off-menu Oaxacan-style antojitos (street snacks) coming out all night: de eses (a kind of rolled taco with an herbaceous hoja santa leaf pressed into the tortilla), tlayudas (crunchy tortillas served with a variety of toppings), and other masa-based items that merrymakers will be able to eat with their hands. This isn't a sit-down dinner by any stretch, but general manager Andrew Hoffman promises there will be plenty of food — enough to serve as dinner, if you're so inclined. Tickets include food for the whole night; drinks will need to be purchased à la carte. — L.T.

Details: At Comal (2020 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley). 9 p.m., $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

Go if: Artisanal mezcal is more your style than Dom Perignon.

Beware of: Guacamole on the dance floor!

Foodie street cred: 4/5

Hipster street cred: 2/5

POPNYE at Oracle (Oakland)

POPNYE is not the time or place to think about your New Year's resolutions. Drink less? Exercise more? Find a hobby? Avoid that thinking and remember that you are a beautiful god/goddess of the night. Arguably the biggest New Year's Eve celebration in the entire Bay Area, POPNYE will bring together some of the leading names in trance (Above & Beyond, Ferry Corsten, and Dash Berlin, all of who are playing at Winter Wonderland in Anaheim earlier that evening, weirdly enough) together in one gigantic feel-good (wink, wink) bash, replete with a ridiculous lightshow and special effects. — L.C.

Details: At the Oracle Arena (7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland). 9 p.m., $60-$110.

Beware of: Scalpers.

What to wear: Anything gauzy, sparkly, or see-through, preferably bejeweled.

Hipster quotient: 3/5

Inebriation: 5/5

Meat market: 5/5

thePeople NYE Ball

More is not always better with New Year's Eve parties. Thankfully, organizers of the monthly party thePeople understand that. DJ and producer Rich Medina will spin hip-hop, jazz, house, and future soul, melding a down-home feeling with a sense of elevation through his spoken-word and highly conscious lyrics. Something of a worldwide phenomenon who has worked or performed with Q-Tip, The Roots, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Seun Kuti, and Gil Scott-Heron, Medina knows how to get people moving. — L.C.

Details: At The New Parish (579 18th St., Oakland). 9 p.m., $10-$20

Go if: You're not into the decadence of bigger parties.

Drink of choice: Corona with lime.

Hipster quotient: 3/5

Inebriation: 3/5

Meat market: 4/5

Erykah Badu with The Coup

Since her debut album in 1997, Erykah Badu has set out to do one thing and do it well — simply be herself. The neo-soul singer, embraced by everyone from rappers to New Age hippies, could have capitalized on her mainstream appeal, but instead worked to innovate her sound, be it jazz, R&B, or political hip-hop inspired by her African heritage. Badu pours intense emotion into her live shows, playing hits like "On and On," "Tyrone," and "Honey," plus tracks from her latest, 2010's New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh), a surreal pop album that's both experimental and accessible. Oakland's The Coup will warm up the crowd with a high-energy set of booty-shaking bass lines and funky hip-hop. — W.P.

Details: At The Fox Theater (1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland). 9 p.m., $59.50, $75.

Go if: You're craving a night surrounded by good vibes and grown-ups.

What to wear: Bohemian-chic with a side of street.

Hipster quotient: 2/5

Inebriation: 2/5

Meat market: 3/5

New Year's Eve Day Party

Little kids don't need to be excluded from New Year's festivities just because the show goes down after their bedtimes. Join the Lawrence Hall of Science for a daytime New Year's extravaganza. Kids can watch the New Year begin in countries all over the world on the Hall's huge Science on a Sphere globe, while also crafting their very own New Year's noisemakers. At 2 p.m., they'll put their noisemakers to use during the big balloon drop, featuring hundreds of colorful balloons. Toast to 2013 with sparkling apple cider and call it a year — all by early afternoon! — A.G.

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