Simply put: 2016 can eat a turd.
I’ll spare you the details, much like how one avoids pouring sea salt on road rash, and instead focus on the future: New Year’s Eve.
You’re probably not in the mood for celebrating. But forget that: Show 2016 the door with style with one these sixteen NYE parties, dinners, yoga sessions and more:
Binge on Bubbly
If Bay Grape isn’t the most down-to-earth “fancy” wine shop in the East Bay, I don’t know what is. One of the best ways to treat yourself is to wander into the Adams Point storefront on a random Tuesday night, give one of the friendly staff members your parameters (e.g., coworker’s going-away party, Dungeness crab to eat, and a $20 budget), and let those folks work their magic. They’ve never let me down. What better occasion than New Year’s Eve — especially after this motherfucker of a year — to exercise this indulgent form of self-care?
Bay Grape carries dozens of bubbly wines, but if you want to splurge on a classic champagne, co-owner Josiah Baldivino recommends the non-vintage Pascal Doquet “Diapason” Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger ($70), which he describes as being “slightly toasty and spicy with an amazing mineral tapered finish.” It’s a champagne that gives New Year’s Eve toasters a taste of that grand cru pedigree without having to drop the $100-plus that level of champagne usually costs, Baldivino says. And for those on a tighter budget who are willing to try something a little funky, Baldivino recommends the M. Bonnamy Cremant De Loire Brut Rosé ($15): “You get that classic stemmy, green spice mixed with a little dried strawberry and moss.” Never fear if those tasting notes sound a little too much like the Swamp Thing, Baldivino says. You’d be hard-pressed to find a doper bottle of sparkling wine for that price. 376 Grand Ave., Oakland, 510-686-3615, BayGrapeWine.com. (LT)
Stomp 2016 to Death (on the Dance Floor)
We’re not even gonna list the horrors of 2016: year straight fucking sucked — and then was capped with an orange, Nazi toupee. Forget about it with reckless abandon by joining your scummy buddies and a hundred hipster-punk-normcore-loser-biker-jerkoffs at Eli’s Mile High Club. Drink a sixer of PBR tallboys and try not to slip on other people’s vomit until the clock strikes “fuck you.” Eli’s NYE Even show (that’s right, you can still party the next day, a two-for-one deal here) features Baus, Unity, Tough Customer, and Preening. That’s punk rock, asshole. There’s no more appropriate way to usher in the coming shit-show of 2017 (which will be worse than 2016). But at least for the first couple hours of the new year, you can chill on Eli’s back patio stoned out of your gourd, maybe sipping an Olympia. Or, think about all the crappy memories of the past year you can stomp to death on the dance floor while shaking your ass and swinging elbows to Lacker’s morose, blown-out bass dregs. And you can wake up on the 31st and go at it one more time. Welcome in 2017 with a skull-cracking hangover. 3629 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland. ElisMileHigh.com. (DB)
A Mindful NYE
One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to be healthier. Whether that means eat more whole grains or actually utilize that gym membership, take a step in the right direction on New Year’s Eve by not pummeling your kidneys with booze. Instead, listen to your breathing in a room full of silence. The Taoist Center in Oakland will hold a free meditation session starting at 11 p.m., putting you in a deep state of Zen by the time midnight hits. Dr. Alex Feng will guide peace-seekers with traditional, crystal singing bowls, which emit soothing tones and vibrations thought to rebalance the body. Regardless of whether you believe that, the bowls sure do feel nice. You’ll open your eyes in 2017 feeling refreshed, empowered, and positively holistic. And you’ll deserve the tea and cookies that follow. 3824 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. TheTaoistCenter.com. (JB)
Dive into a Pile of Cheese
Look, 2016 has been no joke. This is not a time to fondly wave farewell to an old year with a huge goodbye party. This is a time to hunker down with your loved ones at home and show your appreciation for them with an enormous cheese plate.
We all know that The Cheeseboard is the place to go in the East Bay (or, dare we say it, the entire Bay Area) for a huge selection of cheese from all over the world, accompanied by well-informed staff and great bread to go along with the cheese. But did you know that The Cheeseboard makes Cheese Wheel Cakes? (Yes, “cakes” made out of wheels of cheese, it is exactly what you were envisioning.) They’ll also make you a cheese platter with all the jams and nuts and crackers that your heart desires. Order ASAP through their website (they need your info two weeks in advance) and at least this way, you’ll have something good to remember 2016 by. 1512 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. CheeseboardCollective.coop. (JG)
Dive into a Pile of Charcuterie
If you’re hosting people for New Year’s Eve this year, either for the first time or the twentieth time, do yourself a favor and plop a big tray of charcuterie on the table. You need to provide people with hearty snacks to soak up all of that alcohol, and if there’s a time to splurge on the really good prosciutto, it’s definitely New Year’s Eve. Market Hall (both the Oakland and Berkeley locations) has four different kinds of prosciutto, minimum, along with dozens of other kinds of salumi, pâtés, and other delicious meaty products (there are even some mushroom and vegetable pâtés for your vegetarian friends). Buy what you think is too much, put it all on a big platter with a basket of crackers nearby, and let people thank you later. 5655 College Ave., Oakland, and 1786 Fourth St., Berkeley. MarketHallFoods.com. (JG)
Year of the Haze
It wouldn’t be telling 2016 to eff-off without some baller-status brew. Enter CRAFT Beer & Wine: This is both a destination and neighborhood shop just off the Park Street strip in Alameda, and it stocks an excellent mix of tried-and-true favorites; new, even trendy cans of fresh beer; plus a solid selection of special-occasion bottles. Bonus: Not everyone’s as obsessed with suds, so CRAFT also features a thoughtful collection of wines. Basically, this will become your new go-to for that after-work beer run — and your pre-party stop.
As for New Year’s recommendations: 2016 was — unfortunately — the “Year of the Haze,” so pick up cans of New Glory Brewing or Alvarado Street Brewing’s cloudy-juicy offerings. If hops aren’t your thing, there’s a large selection of wild and barrel-aged ales: I recommend a classic lambic to give 2016 the proper boot (maybe some Drie Fonteinen, if you’re lucky). 2526 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. CraftAlameda.com. (NM)
Spike the Punch
The So Oakland Collective has been putting together some of the hottest day parties, and its Love Jones Adult Prom will be no exception. It is time to either re-live your prom night, or, if you missed it, then make up for it — dust off the dancing shoes, and get a tux or cocktail dress ready. This party is inclusive to all, and that includes the LGBTQ community. Whether you want to be the king or queen, this is going to be a fun night: There will be a red carpet, photo booth, live band, balloon drop and champagne toast at midnight. Sounds by Erk Tha Jerk and DJ Williamstokes, and hosted by Q102’s own Mia Amor. Skyway Conference Center, 1414 Harbour Way, Richmond. $75-140. SoOakland.com. (AR)
The Go-To for Good Booze
We all know where we can get good discounts on alcohol for the later part of the evening. But Wine on Piedmont — a misnomer, as they sell not only wine, but also beer and hard liquor — is where you should go to get the stuff for the beginning of New Year’s Eve, when you want the good champagne, or the special gin, or the small-batch bourbon. Their staff is great at steering you toward bottles you’ve never heard of (but they’re sure that you’ll like), and they have great bitters, shrubs, and other cocktail accompaniments, too. Head here to pick up a bottle or two to open early in the evening, and some to save for 2017, when we all know we’re going to need it. 4183 Piedmont Ave., Oakland. WineOnPiedmont.com. (JG)
New Year’s at Noon
If you have young kids, you might not be thinking about New Year’s Eve at all. Fancy restaurant outing? Nope. A show? Not happening. House party? Only if it involves an inflatable castle. Well, you too can have it all: a massive balloon drop, toast, and 9 p.m. bedtime. The Lawrence Hall of Science understands your plight and is hosting a New Year’s Eve celebration from the entirely reasonable hours of noon to 2 p.m. Let a sea of colorful balloons wash over you and raise your plastic flute of sparkling apple cider to 2017 — perhaps it’ll be the year you finally drag your family to museums on a more regular basis. Start strong by exploring the Hall of Science’s exhibits, full of hands-on, imagination-packed activities for little ones. Admission: $12 adults, $10 children. 1 Centennial Dr., Berkeley. LawrenceHallofScience.org. (JB)
Go Camping on an Island
Get away from civilization by going deeper into its center. Ferries to Angel Island — which sits smack in the middle of the Bay — shove off from San Francisco’s Pier 41 three times on December 31. The last one departs at 2:35 p.m. Once on the island, you’ll find yourself oddly detached from the hustle of the urban grid. But from the island’s many vistas, you can see the entire sweep of the San Francisco Bay, from the glittering lights of the city to the industrial glow of Richmond, to the dark hills of the Marin Headlands and the looming presence of Mount Diablo in the east. If New Year’s Eve isn’t fogged over, you’ll probably have the best views of fireworks, from the professional show on S.F.’s waterfront, to the illegal mortar bombs that light up Oakland’s skies. (DB)
No band knows how to stick it to the man like The Coup. Lyrically, the Oakland hip-hop-rock-hybrid is a wrench in the system, with iconic singer Boots Riley preaching between songs about the people’s power to seize the means of production. And, alongside vocalist Silk-E, Riley some-how manages to make Marxism sexy. So, the Coup is the ideal soundtrack for saying “fuck you” to the horrible year that was 2016. And for $60, you can do that live at the Starline Social Club on New Year’s Eve. The show will also feature jazz masters Ethnic Heritage Ensemble. And in the lounge, a dance party will feature DJ collective La Pelanga, who spin genres from all over the globe, including cumbia, dancehall, and afrobeat. (For $35, you can also choose to just dance in the lounge all night). And if you want to go all out, $70–$150 (depending on the seating time and spot) will get you a fancy three-course meal with options such as oysters with rosé mignonette and seared scallops with butternut squash. 2236 Martin Luther King Junior Way, Oakland. OAKNYE.com. (SB)
The Real Ball Drop
The noises of pinball seem like an appropriate soundtrack for ringing in the new year. In Alameda, the Pacific Pinball Museum is hosting a family-friendly party that’ll keep everyone up and energized through midnight. Starting at 8 p.m., admission will cost $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. That includes unlimited play on more than 90 pinball machines until 12:30 a.m. Cycle through games depicting Doctor Who, Twilight Zone, Robocop, Metallica, and other fun pop-culture references — and, if you’re really into pinball, you might appreciate the museum’s collection of extremely rare, old machines and pinball-themed art exhibits, as well. Grab a drink at the no-host bar and some snacks to prepare for the long night of pinball-binging with arcade nerds — and don’t let the ball fall through the drain. 1520 Webster St., Alameda. PacificPinball.org. (JB)
Live performances, dancers, special DJ sets, and female DJs are what you’ll see experience at A Soulovely New Years Eve! Be sure to get there on time for sets by Aima the Dreamer, DJ Emancipacion, and DJ Lady Ryan. Plus, tickets are only $20. 1743 San Pablo Ave., Oakland. TheNewParish.com. (AR)
It wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve without some kind of prix-fixe dinner at a destination East Bay restaurant. Yes, we’re typically unenthused by such occasions. But something original and cool is going down at Ramen Shop on the 31st: a special NYE menu with everything from sashimi and tartare to oysters and a Dungeness crab ramen. There will be two seatings, one early and one later, and they’ll also be pouring champagne after 10 p.m. Tickets ($120) available at EventBrite.com. Learn more on their website. 5812 College Ave., Oakland. RamenShop.com. (NM)
A Poppin’ Party
SoMar is one of the most popular bars downtown, and on most weekends the line usually extends down the block. SoMar’s NYE parties are no exception. Special DJ set by DJ Fuze of Digital Underground. Also, Sean G and D-Roq. 1727 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. SomarBar.com. (AR)
Go Bowling, Enjoy a Cocktail, Scarf Tacos
The Albany Bowl (540 San Pablo Ave., Albany) is open until 2 a.m. on New Year’s Eve. The amazing cocktail bar Hotsy Totsy Club (601 San Pablo Ave.) is right across the street. And there’s a taco truck in the bar’s parking lot — El Autlense. What more could you want? What more do you need? (DB)