A many-splendored New Year's Eve First Night

By Christian Carvajal on December 30, 2014

What does New Year's Eve mean to you? If you're anything like us, it used to mean glum tequila shots among strangers, followed by blurry staggers home and migraine-enriched New Year's Day mornings. There was room, shall we say, for improvement. Luckily, Tacoma offers vastly superior options. The best of these options is clearly First Night, as it offers so many wonderful sub-options. To wit:

The music alone lasts well beyond the stroke of midnight. Brazilian drum and dance ensemble VamoLá takes the outdoor main stage at 6:30 p.m., in a clatter of maracatu percussion and a rainbow of Carnival-type outfits. It's super fun. The group is followed by the Sherman Family of fuzz-rockers in the Pantages at 6:45, and by rock quartet Loser Dog on the Mountain House stage at 731 Broadway. Meanwhile, singer-songwriter Kye Alfred Hillig will entertain the Blue Couch lounge at 920 Broadway, and the Boneyard Preachers drop serious blues on the library at 742 Broadway. And that's the first 15 minutes! We haven't even made it to world-renowned flautist Gary Stroutsos, Ohana Ukulele, or Owl Parliament - all of whom arrive during the 7:00 hour! We'd be remiss, however, if we failed to mention the 8:05 Rialto appearance of Baby Gramps, an artist so inimitable the Village Voice observed, "If you feel like being amazed, he's a better bet than most."

Now let's dive into the realm of utter fantasy. Suppose you hate music - that's bizarre, but whatever. Maybe Chuck Berry said mean things about your mom once. In any case, you still have a full afternoon and evening of live performance ahead of you, starting with portrait art by the members of C.L.A.W. (Cartoonists League of Absurd Washingtonians) at 6:30 in Brooks Dental Studio, 732 Broadway. Also, be sure to catch Metro Arts Theatre Company's presentation of The Hysterical History of the Trojan War at Theater on the Square at 7, and the "incendiary dance" moves of Pyrosutra and L Lisa Lawrence of Wild Celtic Rose. At 8:30 on the main stage, First Night will attempt to set a Guinness world record for, of all things, the most people (male and female) blowing bubbles while dressed in wedding gowns-and yes, you are invited, nay, entreated to dress up and participate.

Or hey, maybe you're nuts about free stuff. Who isn't? Starting at noon, New Year's Eve is your chance to enjoy free admission to the Museum of Glass, Tacoma Art Museum, and Tacoma Children's Museum, plus free skate rental at Franciscan Polar Plaza. That's a whole lot of something for nothing, amigo. There's literally too much on the schedule to tell you about here in defensible detail, which is why we said nothing about the insane Day-of-the-Dead-themed Alice in Wonderland extravaganza at 9. You may even decide to go whole hog and spring for the Hotel Murano package deal, which includes not only event tickets but also a specially-priced room to collapse in at oh-dark-30.

See you there ... unless, of course, that fifth shot of tequila kicks in, in which case our eyes may not be focusing properly. Uber?

FIRST NIGHT TACOMA, starting noon Wednesday, Dec. 31, 9th and Broadway, Tacoma, free to $15, FirstNightTacoma.org