For people who are single--and don't really want to be--the holidays can be depressing. It's hard not to be lonely when all of your attached friends are acting so chummy and full of holiday cheer. And on New Year's Eve, who are you supposed to make out with at midnight?
No one understands the plight of the single better than others who are single. That's why Tucson Fun and Adventures--a local club comprised of hundreds of eligible men and women from 21 to 93--exists. This New Year's Eve, they're hosting a huge party to help you (presuming you're single; that's a requirement) get together with someone who likes you--and, hopefully, someone you like, too.
The six-hour event will be a fancy one--you have to be at your best, so wear something at least semi-formal. There will be an elegant buffet, four hours of "hot" dancing, party favors, dessert, coffee and plenty of time to mingle with people who catch your eye. And you won't have to be embarrassed about doing it; after all, that's what everybody's there for.
Tucson Fun and Adventures has been hooking up local professionals for more than 10 years, hosting activities like hiking, biking, dancing, theater excursions and even whitewater rafting and trips around the world. The people in the club come from lots of different backgrounds, but they're all professionals--no losers need apply--and they all apparently love to have fun (and adventures).
Registration for the party is required (call 256-3866), and you have to pay your $80 ahead of time. Wear your gown or tux (if you have one); bring your enthusiasm; and be prepared to have a wild time. "This event ranks numero uno!" screams the club's press release. "Let's get this party started!"
Guitarist, percussionist and singer Jim Gasper has been playing classic rock since... well, since before it was considered classic. And he never wants to stop--in the long-term or the short-term sense. Once he gets going, he can play for hours--without even a bathroom break.
Gasper started rocking more than 40 years ago, forming his first band with fellow guitarist Tommy Dukes in an Indiana high school. They've been playing in and around Tucson since the '70s, and in the '80s, Gasper was even in a local punk-ska band (called Mobile Cubes, for those with good memories). Now, they've joined with bassist Tom Privett and drummer Mark Garris to form the Undercover Band. And they plan to crank it up this New Year's Eve at Hacienda del Sol.
Undercover is mostly a classic-rock group, but they're very versatile, throwing some country, blues or jazz into their sets whenever they feel like it. As their name implies, they play a lot of cover songs--from the Beatles to the Stones to Bob Seger--but they also have some great original material. This New Year's, they'll be playing your typical '60s and '70s covers as well as some "funky rock" they composed themselves. ("It's got that funky groove to it," Gasper explains, "but it kind of rocks. It's like if Aerosmith were to get funky.")
And once people start dancing, Gasper vows that Undercover will "hit 'em straight between the eyes and keep 'em dancing"--possibly until way after midnight. "That's our thing," Gasper says. "When we get together, it's just so much fun, we don't want to quit."
The midnight champagne is free--so why not check it out?
Wish you were in New York City for New Year's? Well, too bad. You're in Tucson. But at least you can have a big-city nightclub experience at Level Lounge.
Ryan Schoff, the managing partner of the venue, is actually a Tucson native, but he's lived in and traveled to a lot of big cities: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco--you get the picture. When he returned home to Tucson more than a year ago, he realized we didn't have any big-city-type clubs. So he opened Level Lounge, which is pretty much as upscale as you can get in Tucson.
Located in the foothills, Level offers signature cocktails, a small-plate food menu, fine wine and classy beers. Its décor is opulent, to say the least, with dark wood, plush furniture and all the gold, copper and mother-of-pearl trimmings you could ask for. Yes, it has bottle service, as well as a VIP room. And, of course, there's a dress code: Ladies, dress elegantly. And gentlemen, leave your sneakers at home (no matter what brand they are or how much they cost).
"Level Lounge has a great atmosphere," says general manager Christian Muller. "It gives you an exclusive feeling, a safe environment, and it's intimate. Every time we've thrown a party, it's been really successful, and everybody's had a lot of fun, including the staff."
This New Year's Eve, Level will host an "extravaganza" featuring lots of great specials on cocktails and champagne, plus authentic club music by DJs Big Brother Beats, who'll spin old-school hip hop, and John Haze, who'll spin Top 40 remixes and contemporary hip hop. Weather permitting, the club will even open its lovely front patio.
Admission is $20 at the door, but you can get in for half-price if you dine first at 58 Degrees and Holding Co., conveniently located next door.
If you want to savor the desert this New Year's--both visually and gastronomically--Loews Ventana Canyon Resort is a great place to do it. Set in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, it has a great view of the mountains, and this year's New Year's Eve, it'll also offer one of the most authentic Southwestern dinners you can find at any venue like it.
At the Flying V Bar and Grill, resort chef de cuisine Alexis Martinez will dish out food from his "dedication to the desert" menu, which incorporates ingredients like nopales, saguaro-cactus syrup, mesquite flour and tepary beans. Many of his dishes, like the chicken ceppino and the caldo de queso, are actually variations on what Martinez ate when he grew up in Douglas. ("It's comfort food with a gourmet twist," Martinez said in a press release.)
Of course, if you're a little shy of Southwestern dishes, you can also dine in the Ventana Room, where executive chef Marc Ehrler--a native of Italy--will serve up his own epicurean specialties.
As for entertainment, guests can head to the cawscade lounge to listen and dance to the music of renowned Tucson blues musician George Howard, who's played for or recorded with such impressive acts as Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins and James Brown.
All in all, it's bound to be a pretty impressive night, because Loews Ventana Canyon puts a lot into the holidays--they even have a 26-foot Christmas tree with grapefruit-size glass-blown ornaments. As public-relations manager Jennifer Duffy said in an e-mail, "It's the one place in town you can come dressed your best to enjoy a Five Diamond dining experience... and romantic evening views of the city and the holiday lights."
The entertainment is $25--or free, if you dine at either the Flying V or the Ventana Room ($85 and $125, respectively). Call 615-5495 (Flying V) or 615-5494 (Ventana Room) for reservations.