Now that we've outlasted the end of the world, we must tend to something truly crucial: deciding where to go on the night of (and nights approaching) the Big Ball Drop. Some thoughts:
The end of the . . . Walnut Room. After seven-plus years of catering to Philly's smart dancing set, the DJ-centric Walnut Room atop Alfa American Tavern closes its doors on New Year's Day. This second floor isn't done for good - Alfa males Joe Beckham and Giancarlo DiPasquale will redesign and rebrand it for heavy-duty strutting in 2013 (Alfa will stay as is). To close things out, house DJ Lee Jones and his traveling show, Rover, spin a wild and worthy send-off.
The War on Drugs. With their most recent album, 2011's Slave Ambient, Philadelphia's War on Drugs have proven themselves to be as innovative as they are rooted in traditionalism. Noisily spaced-out as in "My Bloody Valentine" and quirkily country-tinged like the best vintage Neil Young records, reedy singing songwriter Adam Granduciel and his band make cranky rock perfect for coming down from any high. End your year with two nights of druggy surround-sound clamor? Why not.
Laughing with Gary Gulman. Tall stand-up comedian Gary Gulman may be best known as a contestant on NBC's reality-talent show Last Comic Standing and as part of Dane Cook's Tourgasm multi-comic shows. Don't hold that against him. He's an observational comedian with a focus on the absurd, is in heavy rotation as part of Comedy Central's hour-long stand-ups (Gary Gulman: Boyish Man), and made one truly giddy album in Conversations With Inanimate Objects. Even if he's dull, you'll be toasted. Everything will seem funny.
Sailing the Spirit of Philadelphia. Drinking on a boat sounds like a dicey proposition, but what's a party without thrills? That said, it is safety first for the crew members of the Spirit of Philadelphia cruise ship as they offer two New Year's Eve dinner cruises: a family trip with the 6 p.m. fireworks popping overhead, and a late moonlight cruise with fireworks from Penn's Landing roaring romantically in the midnight sky. Favors and DJs included.
Making Time. In terms of large-scale dance parties with an underground edge and a fashion-forward vibe, no one does it better than David Pianka's Making Time crew. The floating party ball with the rad tunes on two floors appeared last New Year's Eve at Union Transfer when the Spring Garden Street hot spot still had its new-paint smell. A year later, their New Year's Eve Hyper-Rager, complete with a stunning video/light experience from Klip Collective, plus confetti cannons, promises to ring in 2013 with a klang.
Go to Work. Philadelphia's only all-comedy theater company, 1812 Productions, doesn't disappoint when it comes to NYE. Longtime friends, collaborators, and local-theater-scene vets Aaron Cromie and Dave Jadico go silent but stay uproariously funny in cramped quarters during the wordless Dave & Aaron Go to Work. This final night of the run features the pair showing off their best Odd Couple chops while keeping their mouths shut.
Family Fun at Arnold's New Year's Rollin' Eve Party. For the most part, NYE fun is mostly for adults sans teens. That's all well and good if your older kids go for the idea. For those who don't, Arnold's Bowling Bar & Bistro at Arnold's Family Fun Center and the Water Tower in Oaks, Pa., is filled with everything young(er) and old(er) could want: laser tag, go-kart races, black light bowling, a rollicking band (the Sofa Kings), big buffets, and open bar. For this, you'll rent a teen if you don't have one already.
Balkan Feast & Dance Party with the West Philadelphia Orchestra and Johnny Showcase at Connie's Ric-Rac. Too few parties in general come with pierogi, let alone with New Year's Eve. So rather than look for Italian delicacies in the Ninth Street Market this night, have at the nearby Balkan spread that the horn-driven, Eastern European-inspired West Philadelphia Orchestra literally cooks up for you. Philly's flashiest crooner, Johnny Showcase, and his lounge band bring the spice.
Atlantic City certainly is rebounding from its bout with Sandy, as Dec. 31, 2012, will attest. At Bader Field, producer/DJ Steve Aoki headlines "Life in Color," his massive paint-party/aerial stunt show/dance jam. Rev Run, last seen at the Labor Day "Made in America" festival as part of Run-DMC, spins at the Borgata Casino's hottest club, Mixx. But the casino with the greatest struggles, the financially beleaguered Revel, is fighting back the hardest with a bells-and-whistles-filled new nightclub, HQ, that is, fortunately, packing them in.
"We know that we've had a hard road to climb, but we think that HQ is driving people not only to Revel but, thankfully, to Atlantic City period," says Matt Minichino of Angel Management Group, which handles the six-month-old club.
HQ plans the biggest of all AC blowouts - a five-night extravaganza that started Thursday with tech-house maven Sebastian Ingrossio, moves on to Swedish House Mafia's Axwell and underground sensation Kaskade, and ends with Bambi at the club and Tiesto, a giant of the DJ set, in Ovation Hall on New Year's Eve. "Extravaganza is what we do best," laughs Minichino. No doubt.
MIXXMusic by Rev Run and DJ Ruckus, 9 p.m. MIXX at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, 1 Borgata Way, $75. 609-317-1000, 609-317-7249, www.theborgata.com
"New Year's Eve WKND at HQ" with Swedish House Mafia's Axwell (Friday), $40; Alesso (Saturday), advance ticket sales closed, limited tickets available at the door; Kaskade (Sunday), advance ticket sales closed, limited tickets available at the door; Bambi and Tiesto (both $125; he's in Ovation Hall) on New Year's Eve. At Revel, 500 Boardwalk, 609-572-6488, 609-345-2211, revelnightlife.com/NYE2013