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NYC party planning guide: Essential gear, clubs and party playlists

Throw down like a boss with our essential guide to the New York party scene, including party planning, dance clubs, places to meet singles, and nightlife highlights

Photograph: Filip Wolak

If you live in New York, the chances are that you know how to get down. Whether your jam is hitting the clubs, hanging at secret New York parties, flirting at a rooftop bar, or even just staying home and making out with your one and only—hey, that’s a party too—we have you covered. Check out our selection of New York’s best bars and clubs, groove to our ultimate dance-party playlist (or the sexiest songs ever made), and for heaven’s sake, look good while you’re doing it with our pick of party dresses. Got your best moves in check? Good. Let's go.

Music and Nightlife

Best burlesque shows

Empire Beats' Juke Joint Revue Rhythm & blues combo Empire Beats, featuring vocalist Camille Atkinson, is back for another night of music, burlesque, comedy and more at the lovably divey Parkside Lounge. Temple of the Virgins We'll have to take their word for it regarding the virgins bit, but this monthly burlesque night—held in a Mexican restaurant—certainly showcases a caliente array of talent. Broadway Brassy (“The Golden Throat of Burlesque”) is the evening's host. Hotsy Totsy Burlesque: Star Wars Holiday Special Cherry Pitz and Joe the Shark return with their night of scripted burlesque (subtitled "The Home for Wayward Girls and Fallen Women"), held monthly on the Bowery. In this episode, the crew revisits Star Wars (or, more specifically, 1978's mind-blowing Star Wars Holiday Special), with contributions coming from Handsome Brad Lawrence, Brief Sweat, Clara Coquette, Hard Corey, Ivory Fox, Jenny C'est Quoi, Rosey La Rouge and Ms. Pitz herself; Tiger Bay serves as the stage kitten, and additional go-go action comes courtesy of Erika Rodgers. Bushwick Burlesque: Albert Cadabra, This Is Your Life! Burly-Q types, alt-sideshow stars, and admirers of both genres head to Bushwick's Bizarre for this night of ecdysiast antics hosted by Darlinda Just Darlinda and Scary Ben. This evening's gala serves as a homage to sideshow star and MC extraordinaire Albert Cadabra, with Apathy Angel, Cheeky Lane, Foxy Squire, Kinky Demure, Minnie Tonka, Miss Em, Ray Valenz, the Schlep Sisters

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By: Lauren Rothman

The top 5 club events this week

Sankeys Saturdays: Kerri Chandler House hero Kerri Chandler has been releasing his thumping New Jersey–bred tunes since the late ’80s, but he's had something of a career renaissance in the past few years—including a residency at Ibiza’s famed Circoloco party. Needless to say, he's been a great DJ all the while. Cem & Rg, along with Autobrennt's Mateo, lend support; in the cellar, Reda Briki, Kramer and Deep Woods lay down yet more house beats. The Bunker: Mathew Jonson + Hrdvsion + Derek Plaslaiko + Thema Nights The busy Bunker bunch is back with more underground electronics, this time presenting one of techno's most innovative artists, Wagon Repair head honcho Mathew Jonson, as the headliner. Just to make the night even more special, the crew is also bringing in his sibling Nathan, better known as Hrdvsion; the pair crafts low-slung techno together under the moniker Midnight Operator. Bunker resident Derek Plaslaiko will also be on hand, and the three will have the entire night together to pretty much do as they please. Over in the Panther Room, Lenny Posso's Thema label takes command, with Circus Recordings' Dave Aju and the veteran Elbee Bad (from the Rush Hour family of artists) joining Posso in the booth. Rinsed Year III Pt. III: Rinsed Live All good things come to an end, and tonight marks the finish of Rinsed's third-birthday celebration. But the underground-dance-music crew is wrapping up the festivities in high style: Residents Dan Wender and Blacky II are unve

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DJ mixes

Listen to DJ mixes of house, techno, dubstep and more from the best local or international spinners—including Gilles Peterson and Greg Wilson. Want to check out hot DJ mixes from some of the world’s best spinners? Of course you do! Here are some of the best sets that Time Out has recently (and not so recently) run, with clubland notables of all stripes—from international superstars such as Greg Wilson and Dimitri from Paris to New York underground vets like Danny Krivit and everyone in between—serving up the beats.RECOMMENDED: New York nightlife guide 2013 Featured DJ mixes DJ mix: George FitzGerald The bass-loving house honcho gears up for a date at Output. Interview and music: Sherwood & Pinch Dub trailblazers Adrian Sherwood and Pinch join forces at Deep Space. DJ mixes: Wolf + Lamb, Soul Clap, No Regular Play and PillowTalk Wolf + Lamb and their extended family play the Crew Love party. Interview and DJ mix: Ben UFO Hessle Audio's Ben UFO plays at Mister Saturday Night and mixes the latest FabricLive compilation. DJ mix: Thugfucker Hear a great DJ mix from Thugfucker, then check out the duo in action at the Blkmarket Membership boat party. DJ mix: The Black Madonna Chicago's fab Black Madonna spins the next Discovery bash. DJ mix: Will Saul/Close Aus Music mastermind Will Saul goes deep with his Close persona. Mix: Hyperdub's Ikonika The Hyperdub label's Ikonika fetes her new album with a live set at Output. All DJ mixes DJ mix: George FitzGerald The bass-loving house ho

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Best parties in New York City

Got the urge to party, but don't know where? Here are TONY's favorite dance-worthy events, with house, techno, dubstep, hip-hop and more all on the bill. Toca Tuesdays Mixtape maestro Tony Touch is on the wheels of steel at the intimate Sutra every Tuesday, spinning hip-hop, funk, reggae, house and more. Major-league guests regularly roll through to contribute deck-wrecking action. DJ June opens; downstairs, DJ Butta L rocks the reggae rhythms. Twin Peaks Tuesdays Francine "The Lucid Dream"—the force behind Pink Room: David Lynch Burlesque—and her pals invite you to celebrate Twin Peaks, a show that's acquired a permanant and prominent place in cult-TV history since it first ran in 1990. The fun includes screenings, burly-Q performances, trivia contests—and, of course, doughnuts. Westgay A cute, hipstery crowd flocks to this weekly party, presided over by Frankie Sharp along with resident DJs Jonjon Battles and Nita Aviance. Offline: Q-Tip The erstwhile A Tribe Called Quest frontman rocks the decks for a set of what's being described as "real music" (none of that fake stuff for the Queens native, it seems). Expect a fun dance floor at this Giant Step–powered party. Props Rich Medina and DJ Akalepse, from APT's long-running Little Ricky’s Rib Shack soiree, lug their funk-heavy record crates to Le Poisson Rouge's Gallery Bar for a weekly all-night dance session, with major-league guests rolling through regularly. Roots Two of the city’s veteran house heroes, Masters at Wo

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By: Time Out editors

Party playlists

Party songs

House party, BBQ, wedding party or just a bedroom disco, we have the party playlist you need to get the place moving. TONY party songs playlist on Spotify You’re having a party, you say? Not sure what to cue up on your iPhone? Rest assured, we have you covered. In fact, we’re a little worried that our playlist of the 100 greatest party songs ever recorded by human beings may actually cause your dance floor to spontaneously combust in a firework explosion of pure joy and body-moving ecstasy. That’s how good we think it is.Our criteria were simple: You hear the intro of the song, and you immediately go skidding toward the dance floor. Nothing less was acceptable. So of course, you’ll find tracks from big hitters like Michael Jackson, Madonna and Beyoncé. And there are one-hit-wonderful tracks galore: “Maniac” by Michael Sembello, “Here Comes the Hotstepper” by Ini Kamoze and “Teach Me How to Dougie” by Cali Swag District, to name a few. There are songs your mom likes, songs your cool younger brother likes and above all, songs you like: Party hits so potent, they get you singing along in the supermarket, or air-punching when they come on your running mix at the gym.In short: all killer, no filler. Let the revelry commence!RECOMMENDED: The best outdoor parties in New York View the 100 best party songs >> Most popular in Live music Dance-party playlist: 100 greatest songs for an epic party House party, BBQ, wedding party or just a bedroom disco, we have the party playlist

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By: Sophie Harris

Sexy songs

New York is for lovers—cultured lovers, to be precise. Check out our sexy-song countdown, pick your date venue and get ready for your classiest hookup yet. Edited by Sophie Harris As the mercury begins to tumble in Gotham, allow us to put a little sizzle in your step. Tying in with two blowout shows at the Paradise Theater from sultry London outfit the xx (not to mention rock's sweatiest week in the city, CMJ), we present our list of the sexiest songs in existence. Once that's put you in the mood, check out NYC's best hookup bars—or if you're feeling refined, the city's classiest live-music venues. And for those of us still firmly in the gutter, tune in to our top 25 oral sex songs. Let's get it on, NYC!RECOMMENDED: Complete guide to dating and sex in NYC 50 best sex songs ever Let our playlist take you by the hand, whisper sweet nothing in your ear, and lead you all the way to the bedroom. Top 25 oral sex songs Celebrating the art of oral in pop music Hookup bars Go on the prowl at these watering holes Classiest jazz haunts Where to go for some old-fashioned seduction. The xx London's mysterious, sensual trio sheds light on what makes it tick. D'Angelo The man who made the sexiest video in history makes a comeback. The Sex issue 2012 Our annual investigation of the state of mating in NYC. You might also like Ten Erotic Books Sexier Than Fifty Shades of Grey These erotic books are hotter and much better written than the E.L. James S&M trilogy—save Fifty Shades of Grey f

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Christmas songs

Christmas songs don’t have to suck! From traditional favorites to obscure nuggets, we’ve got the proof right here (and it’s wearing festive antlers). TONY Christmas Songs playlist on Spotify If the idea of holiday music makes you think of the godawful song from Love Actually (“Christmas-is-all-around-us” anybody?), then let us soothe your pain with our list of yuletide hits—made up specifically of Christmas songs you really do love.RECOMMENDED: Christmas in New York guideThe fact is, a good Christmas song can melt the heart of even the steeliest Grinch, from hardened hipster to grumpy grandpa—so, our Santa sack of hits features lesser-known cuts from the likes of Sufjan Stevens, James Brown, and Amy Winehouse alongside Christmas smashes from Elvis, Bing, and Bruce.In addition to our Top 50 key tracks and Spotify playlist, you can also check out breakout Top 5s: Funk and soul essentials from DJ Jonathan Toubin, holiday hip-hop picks from RapRadar’s B.Dot, and alternative hits from indie oracle Brooklyn Vegan.So here we go: 50 Christmas songs designed to hit your sweet spot. Spinal Tap, “Christmas with the Devil” Okay, everyone knows that nothing Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer did as England’s loudest, most punctual heavy-metal band held a candle to This Is Spinal Tap. But “Christmas with the Devil,” unveiled during a Saturday Night Live appearance in December 1984, comes close. The sound is suitably ponderous and blackened; the lyrics, at once dund

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By: Time Out contributors

100 NYC songs

The greatest tunes about Gotham. Hear them all and watch exclusive performances For as long as there’s been a New York City, Gotham has inspired odes to its majesty and danger, its punk vitality and all-embracing spirit. Love it or hate it, if you’re a musician living here, sooner or later you’re going to write about it.It was in that spirit that we set about assembling our list of the 100 best NYC songs. Our jury of New York-proud experts—TONY Music staffers Sophie Harris, Marley Lynch, Hank Shteamer and Steve Smith; features editor Sharon Steel; Theater associate editor and cabaret maven Adam Feldman; Nightlife editor Bruce Tantum; and freelance hip-hop expert Jesse Serwer—combined longtime New Yorkers and more recent arrivals drawn here by the city’s ineffable allure. For more than a month, we searched far and wide for well-worn anthems and deserving obscurities alike.One fundamental rule—a song had to be specifically and explicitly about some aspect of NYC, be it good, bad or ugly—led to some startling omissions: Whither Patti Smith, Blondie and Talking Heads? Weeks of heated deliberation and occasionally heartbreaking cuts followed as we parsed lyrics and contexts; even seeming no-brainers like “Positively 4th Street” got voted off the island as we pondered relative merits to wrestle out a ranking.The result is a fascinating, illuminating and (we’re sure) potentially infuriating tally of the 100 best songs about the city we call home. We invite you to dig in, listen

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Party prepping and primping

Top ten cheap blowouts

Get your mane coiffed for a party or big meeting without spending a bundle at these salons, which will straighten your locks for $20 or less. Amy's Hair Salon Owned and run by Amy Ooi for 16 years, this narrow, low-ceilinged spot in Chinatown may be on the utilitarian side—cream-colored walls, linoleum flooring, somewhat harsh lighting—but the friendly staff and reliable service make it worth a stop if you're in the vicinity. Even with an appointment (highly recommended on weekends and toward the end of the day), clients can end up waiting 15 or 20 minutes. A scalp massage accompanies each of three wet steps (two washes and a conditioner) in one of three sinks in the back, while Ooi, a veteran hairdresser by day and a chef by night, orchestrates the steady stream of female clients up front. She typically takes over blowouts from an assistant midstream, processing them with practiced, speedy assurance. Whether employing an unusual flatiron-like brush or a steam flatiron that manages to banish every last rebellious piece of frizz, her blowouts leave some body and impart lots of shine. The preponderance of Mandarin spoken by staff and clients alike is classic Chinatown, and could, with a little imagination, transport you to a faraway land. • (212-406-2746). $15–$18.—Lee Magill Encore Beauty Salon It takes some serious sleuthing to find this old-school salon, hidden on the ground level of an apartment complex largely occupied by Columbia University's Committee on Global Tho

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Best cheap manicures

Get your nails pruned and polished for $10 or less at one of these TONY-approved salons. Manhattan Ace Nails 145 E 27th St between Lexington and Third Aves (212-679-4352). $10.This snug space feels as warm as its pink-hued walls, thanks to an accommodating staff and the open arrangement of the furniture (four pedicure and five manicure stations line the walls, with drying posts positioned at the center). Manicures using of-the-moment OPI and Essie lacquers last a solid week, nails are always filed in a clean shape of your choice, and you won't find excess polish drips outside the lines.—Lauren Levinson Beauty and Cutie Nail Salon 424 E 14th St between First Ave and Ave A (212-388-1299). $8.50.The aestheticians at this unassuming spot preen your digits with patience and precision worth far more than a ten-spot: After diligently shaping the tips and trimming cuticles, the technician treats you to a brief-but-soothing hand massage before slicking on a double coat of your favorite in-demand OPI or Essie shade.—Sarah Bruning Bijou Nails 417 W 58th St between Ninth and Tenth Aves (212-957-8939). $9.Despite its slightly out-of-the-way location on a desolate midtown strip, this cream-colored salon is surprisingly bustling. With just five manicure stations available and a no-reservations policy for tabs less than $20, you can expect a wait, but it won't be more than ten minutes—service is speedy and efficient, making Bijou optimal for nails on the run. If you're fond of sporting shoc

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By: Alex Schechter

Stylish Christmas crackers

The British custom of placing brightly wrapped cardboard-tube party favors (filled with tchotchkes and beauty products) on the table during the holidays gets a glam makeover with these stylish holiday poppers These festive holiday and Christmas crackers make for great stocking stuffers or place settings during holiday parties. The fashionable favors can double as decor, and contain beauty products, makeup and mini desk supplies. Shop for them at NYC stores including Origins, Jo Malone, Williams-Sonoma and Pier 1 Imports. Popular Shopping & Style events this week The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park In its 12th season, this outdoor market boasts more than 125 artisans selling everything from clothing and accessories to food and hot drinks. Gift ideas include Diana Warner New York rose-gold necklaces ($128), SOVL NYC recycled messenger bags ($180) and Brazilian Home Collection hand-painted lamps ($350–$650). Artists & Fleas at Chelsea Market Brooklyn purveyors set up shop across the river at Artists & Fleas’ seasonal pop-up bazaar, situated inside Chelsea Market. Expect to find trendy and noncommercial holiday-themed gifts vetted by husband-and-wife team Amy Abrams and Ronen Glimer, who ensure that every item is locally made and well crafted. Among the 30-plus vendors are bag designer Pamela Barsky, vinyl slinger Eat Records and vintage seller Brooklyn Bleu. Enter the building at the corner of Tenth Avenue and 15th Street. Union Square Holiday Market Now in its 20th season, t

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Affordable party-dress stores

Before you hit the holiday soiree circuit, snag a frock for $100 or less at these girly havens. RECOMMENDED: Best shops in NYC CallalilaiBoho party girls who favor Japanese-inspired cuts and wild prints to sequined, JWoww-styled minis will have a hard time choosing from the dizzying array of sophisticated, wallet-friendly frocks at this local mini chain. The Asian-themed decor—complete with Oriental birdcages, Harajuku girl parasols and vases filled with long peacock feathers—creates a whimsical backdrop for the classic clothes with a twist. All of the threads are by house brands Aoyama Itchome and Aioty, and our favorite lineup of holiday attire includes crushed-velvet strapless numbers with shimmery details ($97) and leaf-print flutter-sleeve frocks ($97). You can even wear some styles straight from the office to after-work shindigs, including tunics with gathered draping at the hip ($79) and zigzag-patterned baby-doll dresses ($55). Complete your look with locally made baubles from Arrows and Hearts, a line of leather-and-feather pieces ($9--$77), and Erica Lasan's (also the assistant manager at the Nolita location) Qurica collection of semiprecious gems mixed with chains ($19--$132). Mention TONY for 30 percent off all purchases through December 31. 296 Atlantic Ave between Hoyt and Smith Sts, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn (718-875-1790) * 827 Broadway between E 12th and E 13th Sts (212-477-7377) * 43 Spring St between Mott and Mulberry Sts (212-334-2188) * callalilai.com Cutie

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Sex and dating

Inside a new swingers club on the L.E.S.

An urban adventurer and some open-minded friends explore a new destination for group sex. Most popular in Sex & Dating Babeland At this friendly sex-toy boutique—run by women and skewed toward women—browsers are encouraged to handle all manner of buzzing, wriggling and bendable playthings, including the famed Rabbit Pearl vibrator. The shop also stocks a huge variety of condoms and hosts frank sex-ed classes on a variety of subjects. Browse and sign up for classes at Babeland Cheetahs Club & Restaurant So what if it offers nyotaimori (all-you-can-eat sushi served on a naked woman) in its private Kabuki room? Cheetahs is a real strip club through and through. Think iced urinals and doormen who resemble characters from Boogie Nights—and not ironically, either. The girls here are a tad more desperate than at other clubs (expect to be invited to their weekend DJ gigs) but not pushy, and they don't mind putting their hands near your crotch during a lap dance. The Pink Pussycat Boutique The PPB's main focus is on couples looking to invigorate their sex lives with props, potions or costumes. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and the store carries a huge number of toys, starting with cheap bullet vibes and topping out with $100-plus extreme dildos. The company's been in business since 1972, which makes Pink Pussycat a trusted name for dommes and submissives alike. Coco de Mer The first NYC outpost of this eight-year-old British boutique, founded by Justine and Samantha Ro

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Comfortable dress shoes

Holiday party season is upon us, so we found comfortable fancy footwear that won’t impair your feet, or fun. High heels and comfort usually aren’t found in the same sentence, so we set out to find the best comfortable dress shoes for women. For men, we rounded up our favorite oxfords and boots that won’t hurt your feet. The top picks come from Rockport, Isaac Mizrahi, Aerosoles, Ecco, Camper and Dr. Scholl’s. You might also like Trend watch: Colorful denim Trend watch: polka dots Trend watch: Necklace collars Trend watch: Stylish flats

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Beauty parties

Grab your girlfriends and get pampered. Bubbles and Blow at Blow, the New York Blow Dry Bar For those who lack the hand-eye coordination to create smooth, bouncy locks with a round brush at home, the party package offered at this pair of white-and-pink salons is a godsend. During the 45-minute styling session, your mane will be lathered with Blow's proprietary line of sulfate- and paraben-free products and then dried from the roots, leaving you with voluminous, red-carpet-worthy hair. You'll also receive a glass of complimentary prosecco and have the option of adding on other services like a manicure ($18 per person) or makeup application (eyes, cheeks and lips $50 per person) for a complete head-to-toe transformation. Mention TONY for 20 percent off this package through Mar 10. $60 per person for groups of four to nine. 342 W 14th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves (212-989-6282) * 843 Lexington Ave between 64th and 65th Sts, second floor (212-452-0246) * blowny.com Girls Night Out at Dashing Diva From the magenta signage to the pink tweed upholstery, this nail-salon chain's decor is unabashedly girly—the ideal setting for some pampering QT with your amigas. On Thursday and Friday evenings from 6 to 9pm, all of Dashing Diva's citywide locations offer a complimentary Cosmopolitan with the purchase of any service. Get blotto while you and your gal pals chitchat over relaxing aromatherapy manicures ($15--$18) and pedicures ($35--$42) that use Dashing Diva's own brand of polish.

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Best party jewelry

Shop for the latest fall styles with our roundup of the best jewelry. Find necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings for every style and budget. More of the best fall accessories Handbags Shop for the latest fall fashion styles with our roundup of the best handbags. Find totes, clutches, satchels and cross-body bags—many under $100. More of the best fall accessories We’ve rounded up the fall’s best handbags. Browse the season’s top styles, including totes, clutches, satchels and cross-body bags. There are plenty of bags that cost under $100 from IIIBeCa by Joy Gryson, Old Navy and Target, as well as higher-end styles from Rebecca Minkoff and Henri Bendel.RECOMMENDED: See all of this year's fall fashion content Most popular in Shopping & Style Brooklyn Flea It’s that time of year when the Brooklyn Flea comes back outside in Fort Greene on Saturdays and Williamsburg on Sundays. Keep an eye out for Trees and Nails’ salvaged-wood kitchenwear ($30–$200) and wool cat sculptures by artist Mihaeko ($60–$200). Stop by Saraz Closet’s table to nab a ’90s Betsey Johnson swing skirt ($88) and an ’80s Pucci cropped silk jacket ($220). Foodies, take note: Both locations feature plenty of edibles, from Fine and Raw coconut chunky bonbons ($7) to Porchetta chicory salad with garlic dressing ($6). Where to shop in Soho: Best stores for fashion, design and books Shop in Soho for everything from cult fashion and cool design goods to bestselling fiction and natural-history curiosities. Despit

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