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(Gay)RVA NYE 2018: Your Totally Queer Guide To Ringing In the New Year In Style

Marilyn Drew Necci | December 27, 2017

The holiday season is ending. Christmas has come and gone. Now, with 2017 drawing to a close, it’s time to find the best possible way to celebrate its departure and greet 2018 with smiles on our faces.

Plenty of people will take this opportunity to travel, whether it’s to freeze their tootsies off in Times Square with Ryan Seacrest and Mariah Carey (who’ll hopefully be able to hear her backing track this time), or to hit up the big clubs in DC or wherever. To those people, we say godspeed! However, regardless of how others choose to celebrate the biggest party holiday of the year, New Year’s Eve right here in RVA offers plenty of great ways to spend the last hours of what was, honestly, a pretty difficult year.

Here’s our foolproof guide to dancing the night away without facing an hours-long commute home afterwards.

Photo by Wes McWillen

ANIMAL’s New Year’s Eve Trash Bash at Strange Matter

Where dance parties in this town are concerned, you really can’t do better than ANIMAL. Brought to you by a powerful collaboration between disco divas and dirty punks, this roving dance party is always your best bet for a diverse crowd and an inclusive spirit. As a middle-aged lady who spent her wild girlhood hitting at least as many metal shows as dance clubs, ANIMAL always feels like home to me.

This year’s edition of the traditional ANIMAL New Year’s Eve bash is a special occasion, as it marks the fifth anniversary of this killer dance collective getting their start. To celebrate, ANIMAL’s doing all sorts of fun extra activities. For one, there’ll be a time capsule present, which won’t be opened for another five years. Attendees are invited to contribute, though any physical items you might want to drop in there need to be “around the size of a fidget spinner,” according to organizers. Not a ton of room available, apparently–though you can also contribute any sort of digital file you might like to throw in (betting these will be stored on a flash drive, which will hopefully still work with 2023′s state of the art hardware).

ANIMAL will also be throwing a “tasteless” costume contest as part of this event, encouraging you to “adorn [yourself] with all the glitz, glamor, and garbage [you] can muster!” Prizes will be given out to those who most closely embody the tasteless aesthetic. Note from the organizers: tasteless “DOES NOT MEAN racist, mysogynist, trans/homophobic, etc.” So yeah, have fun, but act like you know how to behave or risk the consequences. (Chris Bopst, this means you.)

Music for this event will be provided by gothic synthpop project Stephanie as well as all-powerful ANIMAL DJ Dirt Thurston, accompanied by visuals from MAGICAL_GRILL. Doors open at 8:30 PM, music starts at 9, costume contest happens at 10:30, balloon drop and toast at the stroke of midnight, and the dance floor will be raging til 2 AM. Admission is $5-10 donation to benefit Centro Comunitario LGBTT de Puerto Rico. Strange Matter is located at 929 W. Grace St. For more info, click here.

PLF’s Decemberween XII at Diversity Richmond

The Party Liberation Front has always been your one-stop shop for fire-based shenanigans, over-the-top artistic spectacles, and a general attempt at bringing the spirit of Burning Man home to RVA 12 months out of the year. Now, I’ve never been to Black Rock City, and I’m sure a lot of you haven’t either, but understand–that’s totally OK. From devoted initiates of the playa’s wandering artistic tribe to normal people who are just looking for some fun that goes beyond the everyday, PLF welcomes you all.

This year sees the group throwing their 12th annual Decemberween — a party that brings the spirit of Halloween to New Year’s Eve — at Diversity Richmond once again. While PLF has never explicitly labeled themselves as a queer group, the significant portion of their membership who land somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum should demonstrate that these folks belong in our world.

This event is sure to be quite the thing to behold, considering that both Diversity’s spacious event hall and the parking lot outside of it are being enlisted into service as party space. It only makes sense that the PLF needs an entire outdoor parking lot in which to stage this extravaganza — after all, no matter how cold it is that night, you can be sure that all of the fire getting spun, spit, and otherwise thrown around will chase the chills away. Plus, there’ll be both an indoor dance party and an outdoor stage, which will feature performances from dirty disco punk divas Toxic Moxie, along with the PLF Jazz All-Stars, DJ heroes and PLF kingpins Mr. Jennings and Reinhold, and way more than we have space to mention.

There’s so much more happening as part of this event than we can even get to, though I feel I should mention that quite a few PLF art grant recipients will be on the scene displaying their wares. This is just one of the many ways PLF give back to the local artistic community throughout the year, which makes the fact that this event is a PLF “FUNdraiser” even better!

PLF’s Decemberween will take place at Diversity Richmond, located at 1407 Sherwood Ave, starting at 8 PM on New Year’s Eve. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased here. Click here for more info.

The Eternal Favorites

I’m sure it’s no surprise to hear that RVA’s gay clubs are also throwing New Year’s Eve parties, but the fact that many of us end up there on a regular basis is no reason to turn up your nose at their NYE offerings! Babes of Carytown is offering some excellent party favors for your admission price, including “heavy hors d’ouevres” — which makes me think that if you show up early enough, you’ll be able to scarf plenty of chicken wings and nachos. That’s sure enough to catch my interest!

The obligatory champagne toast and balloon drop at midnight will of course also be part of the evening, and as all of us know, Babes has a ton of space in which to party, including the volleyball court in back (never mind that it may very well be frozen over Sunday night). Babes is at 3166 W. Cary St (as if you didn’t know) and tickets to this event, which starts at 8 PM, are available for $20 in advance by clicking here. For more info, click here.

Over at Godfrey’s, there are multiple events to choose from. First, a $35 per person dinner with premium menu options, including prime rib. Reservations can be made by calling (804)549-9512. Those who attend the dinner also receive free admission to the dance party, which starts after dinner and will feature a drag show, a dessert buffet, and a cash balloon drop! Ooh, that’s exciting! Admission to the dance party alone will be $10 before midnight, $15 after. Godfrey’s is located at 306 E. Grace St. For more info, click here.

Not to be outdone, Barcode will be throwing a mega-dance party with DJ Amy Alderman spinning tunes, and of course, a champagne toast at midnight. Not as many one-time-only perks on this one, but it has the always-attractive plus of being free! Dance floor gets popping at 9, so stop in anytime! Barcode is located at 6 E. Grace St. For more info on this event, click here.

Lower-Impact Options

If you aren’t a total dance-floor warrior, you might be wondering what is left for you on this New Year’s Eve. Rest assured, my chilled-out friend, there’s still quite a bit to do if you don’t want to spend the last hours of 2017 tearing up the club.

At Richmond Triangle Players, you can relax and enjoy a lovely cabaret performance from Nicholas Rodriguez, who has performed onstage as part of the touring company for Jesus Christ Superstar, as well as turning in an award-winning 2011 performance in Oklahoma! However, if you know Rodriguez from anywhere, it’s most likely to be the soap opera One Life To Live, where he portrayed Nick Chavez, winning a 2009 Visibility Award for his performance.

Rodriguez released his debut album, The First Time, in 2015, and has since been performing backed by a small, tasteful jazz ensemble in cabaret performances like the one he’ll present at RTP this New Year’s Eve. His incredible voice and powerful onstage performance will bring Broadway glamour to life right here in Scott’s Addition, as he performs a show named after his first album and taking us through the various firsts of his life — love, loss, etc.

Rodriguez will give two performances at RTP on New Year’s Eve, one at 8 PM and one at 10:30. Tickets are $45 for the first show, $65 for the second, and are available here. Richmond Triangle Players is located at 1300 Altamont Ave.

Over at Gallery 5, it’s general admission and standing room only, but the price is cheap for a night of great music from multiple genres showcasing the many excellent artists Richmond has to offer. The theme is “New Year, New You,” and organizers are inviting all comers to dress as “their new self” for the evening.With Dazeases headlining the night and DJ Skrt Skrt on the turntables, this event will feature multiple members of Ice Cream Support Group on the bill, so you know the LGBTQ community, especially those of color, will be welcome.

The evening will also feature performances from Sammi Lanzetta, a powerful songwriter with an even more powerful voice; along with grungy alt-rockers Fat Spirit and synth-pop chillwave soundscapes from multi-faceted local musician Pete Curry performing under his alter-ego name, FM Skyline. In addition to DJ Skrt Skrt, DJ Baby Maria of the Lovejail crew will also spin some tunes. The event features a champagne toast, of course, and a photobooth, so you can show off your fresh new 2018 look. Admission is $10, doors open at 8 PM. Gallery 5 is located at 200 W. Marshall St. More info about this event can be found here.

What Are The Straights Up To?

Just in case you feel like taking things a bit more mainstream with your New Year’s Eve, maybe taking one for the team and bringing some diversity to a totally heterosexual environment, there are a few events that offer prime opportunity for freaking out some squares — yes, even though the Quirk Hotel masquerade party and the Ball Rise at The Hof are both sold out!

Probably the straightest event you could crash is the Kabana Rooftop party, a Gatsby-themed shindig with music from Bobby LaBeat and Mass FX, both veterans of the EDM wave that broke over Richmond about seven years ago and has been rolling back ever since. This event features several tiers of tickets, and those who are willing to shell out a bit more ($60 for singles, $115 for couples) will get to take part in a cocktail hour and “Roaring 20′s themed” buffet by local celeb chef Michael Ledesma. It’s all you can eat — how Roaring 20′s is that?

The general admission party (hardly a steal in its own right at $45 for singles, $75 for couples) gets started at 10 PM and includes a champagne toast at midnight, party favors (those little noise-makers, I’m guessing), and a live feed of the ball drop in Times Square, so you can watch your friends that drove eight hours freeze their butts off in Times Square from relative comfort atop the Hampton Inn Suites tower only a few miles from your house. Who needs Mariah Carey? Kabana Rooftop is located on the 20th floor of the Hampton Inn tower at 700 E. Main St. Tickets (and king-sized rooms at the hotel below it) can be purchased here.

Finally, you could always go yacht-rock it up at “The Anchor Drop” with Three Sheets To the Wind at the Broadberry. This local group is a tribute to the smooth sounds of the late 70s and early 80s, and from Michael McDonald to Billy Ocean and Christopher Cross, you’ll hear all the songs you’ve started to kinda miss now that Lite 98′s been replaced by an “active alternative” station. Shows by this group are an all-around experience, and this one will include soft-rock videos and a special episode of “3 Sheets TV” as well as a photobooth and… probably a champagne toast at midnight, though they don’t even mention it, so who knows? This group is a specialized thing for a very specific sort of person, but if you’re that sort of person, nothing else will do. So hey, if you’re hoping to hear “Careless Whisper” or “Baker Street” this New Year’s Eve, click here to get yourself a $40 ticket to this throwdown at the Broadberry (which is located at 2729 W. Broad St). Click here for more info.


Anything else? I hope not, because I’m tired of typing. I’ll see YOU on the dancefloor. Happy New Year!

Top photo by Wes McWillen, via Colorful