* Recommended or notable
* Bad Boy Bill The Mid. 9pm; $90, in advance $70 through clubtix.net. Top of the harder-house heap, Bad Boy Bill enjoys a bit of hometown love whenever he plays Chicago. That’s about twice a year, as he’s a global touring sensation. Luckily, this go-around we snagged him to help us break in the Mid (literally—the club’s only days old). And on New Year’s Eve no less. Expect a high-energy blend of harder-edged electro-house and trance dynamics amid a scratch-heavy set and packed dance floor. Nightlife regulars Nathan Scott, Inphinity and Willy Joy also spin. Tickets include an open bar until midnight.
* Big Freedia & The Divas + Nobunny Empty Bottle. 10pm, $25. Want to circumvent all that New Year’s pomp and circumstance? With Sissy Bounce phenom Big Freedia in town, that shouldn’t be too difficult. Sexually charged and with a loyal polysexual following, Freedia hits hard and fast, so be prepared to sweat it out with her and her divas, rockers Nobunny and renowned bounce DJ Rusty Lazer.
Celebrate Zentra. 9pm; $40, ladies before midnight $30, for all $20 after midnight. Head straight for the top shelf, because Zentra is sparing no expense to help you usher in the new year. In addition to a premium hosted bar (until 11pm) and a midnight Champagne toast and balloon drop, resident hip-hoppers DJ AM PM, Genius and Reese spin a full spectrum of rap sounds, from old school to au courant Top 40.
* Champagne Supernova Aja, Dana Hotel and Spa. 9pm, $150. See below.
* Champagne Supernova Vertigo Sky. 9pm, $150. With its swank view of the Chicago skyline, Dana Hotel treats its New Year’s Eve revelers to top-shelf drinks, catered eats and their choice of house from DJs Dannyboy, Billy the Kid, PDA, Mareech and Ray Revel in the Vertigo Sky Lounge. If the dance beats get to be too much, duck out and head to the Aja Lounge for hip-hop and mash-up sets from Kopo, Chuck B and Rob Mata.
* Chicago Scene 10th Anniversary NYE Party The Drake Hotel. 9pm, $165-$250, go to chicago-scene.com for tickets. Ringing in 2011 in the lap of luxury, the Drake Hotel and Chicago Scene boast four rooms of music and merriment with DJs Dani Deahl, Jernell Geronimo and Kalendar. Local indie scenesters Hey Champ also perform live. If that’s not convincing enough, the open bar and overflowing Champagne should set you straight.
* Ciroc the New Year Hard Rock Hotel. 9pm, $175. Big shot Chicago rocker Pete Wentz is the main attraction at this Hard Rock bash. While he struts his stuff with his wife in tow, Crossfader King frontman E-Six, DJ Scotty Styles and DJ Megan Taylor spin radio-friendly rap jams in the main room.
* Cosmix New Year’s Eve Berlin. 9pm, $10. By no means is Berlin above blasting Madonna, but when it comes to the queer cutting edge, there’s no other bar in town that can top it. DJ Greg Haus, who has helmed Cosmix for more than a decade, leads the charge into 2011 with progressive dance styles and support from local electro lovers DAAN, who perform their synthy ’80s-ish pop live.
Crescendo NYE Crescendo. 10pm, $115. Jernell Geronimo, Greg Bauer and Funk Couture keep their Friday residency going straight on into 2011. Mixing up house and progressive sounds this night has the added bonus of an open bar until 1am and bottle popping at midnight.
* FREE Dance Syndrome Butterfly Social Club. 8pm. Drink packages available. Sifting through salsa, samba, batucada, Latin jazz, baile funk and all its electronic counterparts, Christian Vera and Caswell James of the Soulphonetics DJ crew throw this Latin-themed soiree to carry you into the new year. The residents are joined by fellow world beat junkies Mwelwa, Passistas and a troupe of samba dancers.
* Dead Man’s Hand New Year’s Ball Flat Iron. 8pm, $20. Forget all the pomp and circumstance of the downtown club circuit. Wicker Park’s late-night dive takes a grimy, gangster approach to New Year’s Eve, transforming into a depraved den of sex and stimulation. Rockabilly band Cash O’Reilly and the Downright Daddies get feet moving while Angela Eve and her burlesque troop get everybody’s heart rate up.
* Chico DeBarge + Zzaje + Zebo The Shrine. 8pm; $40, VIP packages available. The South Side’s hottest haunt welcomes Motown tenor Chico DeBarge for one last soul shakedown in 2010. Whereas most other venues mailed it in for their New Year’s Eve bookings, the Shrine really stepped it up this year. Good on ’em. Live funk outfit Zzaje opens the night and DJ Zebo is on hand, dropping hip-hop hits before and after performances.
Debonair NYE Debonair Social Club. 9pm; $70, e-mail email@example.com for VIP package options. With music from the resident weekend jocks Ryan Paradise and Andrew Vonn, Deb boasts two floors of music, open bar all night and the obligatory Champagne toast just in time for the ball to drop for 2011.
* Die Tonight: Eyes Wide Shut Masquerade Ball Beauty Bar. 7pm; $15, before 10pm $10. It may seem incongruous with the decor, but electro sounds are a runaway success at Beauty Bar. Big thanks go out to Midnight Conspiracy, whose Die Tonight parties are the current pinnacle of the hipster electro scene. So if that’s your thing, look no further for your New Year’s Eve plans. The boys have recruited noisy Hotlanta crew Cobra Corps to join them and DJs Perfect Kiss, Disco Death Threat and Heaven Malone. Free bloody makeovers and photos from Glitter Guts.
* 11th Hour Social Chicago Urban Art Society. 9pm; $35, in advance $25 through clubtix.net. 18 and up. Head off the beaten path this New Year’s with Chicago Urban Art Society, Cold Grums and Ground Lift Media. The Pilsen gallery space adopts a full-on hip-hop bent with rap-happy party rockers Jr. Flo, Matisse and Tune a.k.a. Keys N’ Krates. Rock-rap hybrid act Loyal Divid also performs. DJ sets come courtesy of Ruby Hornet’s DJ RTC, Maker, Merk1 and Ghetto Division’s Rob Threezy, Rampage and Maddjazz.
Evil Olive Eve Evil Olive. 9pm, $70. In addition to the usual New Year’s amenities—drink package till 1 am, gourmet buffet at the back bar, Champagne toast at midnight, noisemakers, etc.—Wicker Park party rocker Zebo, Marco Morales, Popstatic and Konsept supply 2011-worthy jams all the way to 4 am.
Extreme New Year’s Eve Vision. 7pm, $40. VIP packages available. One of the only places in the city that can boast five rooms of hip-hop, house, techno, pop and, yes, even retro, whatever that means. The beats come courtesy of Vision’s numerous resident DJs and for a good portion of the night, the booze flows freely.
* Eyes Wide Shut JBar. 9pm, $85. No newcomer to the rap game, DJ Timbuck2 has toured with Yeezy and has deejayed parties for celebs such as Jay-Z, Common and Michael Jordan. He holds down JBar’s @superfun New Year’s Bash with his inimitable mix of hip-hop, pop and mash-ups. And don’t forget your mask: it’s an Eyes Wide Shut party, so things are guaranteed to get freaky.
* Flosstradamus + Gemini Club + Pr3-Frosh Lincoln Hall. 10pm; $35, in advance $30. 18 and up. Everyone’s favorite DJ duo—known for being two of the best party rockers in town—take over the Lincoln Hall to help get your New Year started off on the good foot. Autobot and Young Josh fire off digital goodness from their laptop-fueled DJ set running from house to hip-hop to hipster. Indie electro outfit Gemini Club performs. The Booty Up’s Pr3-Frosh opens.
Funky Buddha New Year’s Eve Funky Buddha Lounge. 9pm; $30, in advance $25. VIP packages available. Buddha has been given the full holiday treatment to add to the general merriment of its New Year’s festivities. Friday night residents rock the main room while the Soul Phonetics DJs bring their world-music vibes to Butterfly Social Club.
DJ Galvan The Underground. 10pm, $20. That handsome young devil DJ Galvan dolls out hip-hop, electro and Top 40 jams for the luxurious crowd ringing in 2011 at Underground.
Here’s to the Night The Griffin Lounge. 9pm, $95–$150. The trendy River North club toasts to the New Year with trendsetting jock DJ J-Rose. He’s the resident selector on Saturday nights at the Underground, which means this guy’s well versed in dropping tunes for an A-list crowd. While J-Rose rocks it from the booth, enjoy a premium open bar, Champagne and catered munchies.
* Luck Be A Lady Tonight Lumen. 8pm, $115, includes open bar until 1am. VIP package still available. There’s no question that the LED-happy lounge in Fulton Market is a New Year’s Eve hot spot. Early bird tickets for its Vegas-themed bash are already sold out, and the rest are going fast. Those lucky enough to join the game are treated to casino gambling, a Sinatra-themed jazz trio, hors d’oeuvres served by Sin City show girls and the hip-hop style of DJ Lil Mikey.
* Naughty New Year Neo. 10pm, $5. Offering a respite from the exhorbitant cover fees dominating the New Year’s Eve club landscape, Neo keeps it cheap and dirty with industrial, electro and house sets from residents Lolly Gagger, Eddie Riot, Peter Propaganda, Mr. Automatic, Neo legend Jeff Moyer and Gramaphone Records’ head honcho Michael Serafini.
* New Year’s Eve Big Bash Crimson Lounge. 9pm, $85. VIP packages available. Not to be confused with Mr. Roboto (no, Styx is not on hand for Crimson’s New Year’s party), Chicago MC Mr. Robotic is the main attraction as the plush lounge in the Hotel SAX ushers in 2011. The quick-talking rapper is joined by DJs Sadie Woods and Ben Castenada. Price of admission also includes a five-hour open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres and a Champagne toast.
* New Year’s Eve Time Traveler Germania Place. 9pm, $150-$250, go to shopakira.com or any retail location for tickets. Local clothing juggernaut Akira makes its first foray into New Year’s Eve parties, and it does so with some of the city’s biggest DJ names in tow. Electro bigwigs Dark Wave Disco and Skyler are joined by Madrid and Just One Duran. New Wave band Streets on Fire also does its thing live. Oh, and did we mention it’s all you can eat and drink all night? Not bad.
* No Affiliation New Year’s Eve Undisclosed location. 9pm, $15, R.S.V.P. to firstname.lastname@example.org mandatory for entry. 18 and up. It’s rare that a techno artist can claim to have equal influence on the Detroit and German scenes, but Daniel Bell’s been there and done that. He released a smattering of huge records in the D before crossing the pond to make minimal waves in Berlin. Now he’s back in the U.S. of A. to ring in 2011 with some of our best local techno and house talent. DJs include Sevron, Mike Brankis (live PA), Funk Shiw, Matt Main, John Simmons, Nate Manic, Tyrel Williams, Striz, Adonis Childs, Q-Bot and more.
* FREE No Cover New Year’s Eve Empire Liquors. 10pm. One of Empire Liquors’ most endearing qualities is that it gives an air of exclusivity once inside, without asking for a Jackson just to get in. Rest assured this won’t change as it rings in 2011 with always reliable beats from resident Hiroki, who takes the intimate dance floor through hip-hop, house and rock from before the ball drops until after the house lights come up.
* On the Boardwalk: A Prohibition New Year’s Eve Victor Hotel. 9pm, $50. VIP packages available. Bigwig party promoters Switch! take over both floors of Fulton Market’s swank Victor Hotel for a Prohibition-era speakeasy party. It’s skipping the bathtub gin, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be gangsters and flappers galore, so keep that in mind as you’re getting dolled up for the night. DJs Maurizio and Flash man the main room so whether you’re into merengue, bachata, salsa, house or tropical sounds, you’re covered. If that isn’t your speed, check out the VIP room with DJV, Scream and Eddie V dropping hip-hop, Top 40 and dancehall.
Orchard Lounge + Nate Manic + Major Taylor + Kid Color Smart Bar. 10pm; $30, in advance $25. V.I.P. packages from $80–$400, see smartbarchicago.com for details. One of the city’s premier club spots, it would have been nice to see Smart Bar pull out the big guns to blast us into 2011. That said, sets from house-loving trio Orchard Lounge, resident talent buyer Nate Manic, the always entertaining Major Taylor and disco deviant Kid Color never disappoint.
* Pandora enclave. 10pm, $115, table reservations available. At enclave, the New Year’s Eve word of the night is bioluminescence. Confused? You won’t be when you set foot inside the club and see that it’s been transformed into the mythical planet from James Cameron’s Avatar, complete with glowing foliage and hot alien cocktail servers.
Panic New Year’s Eve darkroom. 9pm; $15, in advance $10. This long-running monthly may be called Panic, but there’s no disco played here. DJs Pogo and Arturo hold it down with their to-die-for collections of Britpop, new wave and ’90s alternative, so expect to hear some shoegaze in the mix as well. For this special New Year’s Eve edition, DJ Misa adds her funk, soul, rock and disco selections to the already golden sounds emanating from the system.
* Playboy New Year’s Eve Chicago Hilton and Towers. 9pm, $175-$225. VIP packages available. Pulling out all the stops, Global Adrenaline, Surreal Entertainment, Playboy and the Chicago Hilton put together one of the most high-profile New Year’s events in the city. Headlined by ubiquitous hip-hop crooner T-Pain, Rafa-L the Saint, B96’s DJ Flipside, Mixin Marc, Dante the Don and Gus Karas are also in the mix with sets ranging from hip-hop to mash-ups to progressive house. That’s all before Playboy gets involved. For a price, you get VIP access to the bunny lounge hosted by more than ten playmates who keep you company while you gamble and drink the night away in style.
Pretty Lights + Holy Fuck Congress Theater. 7:30pm, $50. The hippie-leaning masses that Pretty Lights calls its fan base demanded not one, but two New Year’s Eve shows. Those who prefer to ring in the next decade with the stoner beat makers who descended from the Rockies get treated to a vintage electronic dance party courtesy of Canada’s Holy F_ck.
* Red Dog NYE Red Dog. 9pm; $25, in advance $20 through clubtix.net. Although it’s been a quiet transition, the former Ohm Lounge space has reverted to the legendary house music mecca that made it famous, Red Dog. In honor of that, and a new year, Just Joey of Boom Boom Room has corralled some of the city’s biggest house talent for DJ sets. Paul Johnson, Gene Farris, Psycho Bitch, Teri Bristol and Lego all spin.
* Reggae Uprising Subterranean. 9pm; $10, before midnight $5. Archangel Soundsystem’s DJ Papa G is the selector here in the lounge, spinning the latest and greatest in dancehall, one drop and roots, as well as reggaeton and bhangra. He’ll be sticking to business as usual for this New Year’s edition, and we ain’t mad at that.
Rock n’ Rolla Hard Rock Cafe. 9pm, $40. Don’t let the name fool you. Hard Rock’s New Year’s Eve bash is a strictly house affair with DJ sets from Mixin Marc, Alex Peace, DJ Torio, LD and Daniel J. Boom Boom Room staple and drummer extraordinaire Bam Bam Buddha is on hand to beat the skins.
Times Square NYE VLive. 10pm; $30, open bar packages available. While it won’t really be that much like New Year’s in Times Square, VLive still sets off 2011 in style with electro, club hits, hip-hop and Latin sounds from DJs Gordo, Catrachoman, Lenny and Lara.
2011 at Hearts Hearts. 9pm, $125. With two of its best residents DJs, De La Chappelle and Horacio Pann, manning the DJ booth, Hearts celebrates its first New Year’s Eve with heavy house sounds and endless bubbly. Admission includes open bar until 1am.
FREE Yours Truly New Year’s Eve rodan. 9:30pm. Packages available for parties of six or more. Three of the city’s party promoters and DJs join forces to reunite as Yours Truly. Chances Dances Aay Preston-Myint, Joe Proulx of Danny’s long-running Smiths Night and Alex Valentine team to bring this low-key Wicker Park lounge myriad rock and dance tunes from these guys’ deep crates.