2011 Tucson Pokémon Trading-Card-Game City Championships
Registration at 10 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 1
2928 E. Broadway Blvd.
If Japan still followed the Chinese lunar calendar, it would count (most of) 2010 as the Year of the Tiger. But surprisingly, this was also a big year for a whole realm of fictional Japanese creatures: Pokémon.
Pokémon are the colorful, cartoonish stars of the Japanese trading-card and video game of the same name, which debuted in 1996. Pokémon players "capture" these creatures, "train" them and then try to capture opposing players' Pokémon—a simplified explanation, but you get the idea.
You may not know Pokémon is still a huge phenomenon. Although Pokémon is often dubbed a '90s trend, in 2010, video-game sales allegedly surpassed 200 million, making it the world's second-most-successful video-game-based media franchise.
Now, thanks to the Play! Pokémon Organized Play Program, city Pokémon tournaments are happening nationwide. Patricia McCann, the premier Pokémon-tournament organizer for our state, says Arizona leagues are popping up everywhere: "Name the town, we're pretty much there."
On New Year's Day, kids (as young as 8) and adults can compete in Tucson's day-long city Pokémon tournament in the hopes of embarking on the long road to the world championship tournament next year. The city's first-place winner will move on to the next level, and the top four players will get prizes. All attendees can win raffle prizes.
McCann thinks "it's exciting" that this is the first New Year's Day Tucson tournament. She says non-Pokémon-playing parents can pursue their own holiday activities worry-free while their kids are at the event.
"We have zero tolerance for bad behavior, so parents are really comfortable with their kids coming," says McCann. "One of the great things is about Pokémon is the spirit of the game."
The tournament is free. —A.M.
Casino del Sol's New Year's Eve Dance
5:30 p.m. (doors); music at 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 31
Casino del Sol
5655 W. Valencia Road
You might think people who plan on spending New Year's Eve at a casino would be really into gambling. (And you might be right ... and what's wrong with that, anyway?) Ironically, though, folks at this year's Casino del Sol New Year's Eve Dance won't be taking a chance on a good time. Not only will the party be crammed full of excellent music, dancing, dining and drinking; the entertainment is free. How can you get better odds on fun for less money?
Deemed "the biggest dance in Tucson" in Sol Casinos' press release, the dance party will actually be composed of two main bashes. One, in the Casino del Sol's Paradiso Bar and Lounge, will feature music by Los Nawdy Dawgs, whose website declares: "We rock out!! We rock in English; we rock in Spanish! And we rock with our instrumentals! We are very serious when we do it live!"
In the Casino Del Sol Bingo Hall, three famous Tejano artists—Grupo Vida, Tierra and Chente Barrera—will belt out hits for a floor full of enthusiastic dancers. According to Sol Casinos' Chief Executive Officer Wendell Long, these are the hottest Tejano recording artists around.
There will also be great food and flowing booze all night at the casinos' six eating establishments (one of which—a brand-new restaurant—will transform into a dance club after dinner) and three bars.
And at midnight? Menudo!
"People should come to this party, because this is more than a dance party," said Long in an e-mail. "Of course, you can also test your luck for the new year."
Call the Club Sol Booth at 838-6700 for information on how to get the free tickets. —A.M.
Dinner With dUO VibrAtO
Seating from 5 to 10 p.m.; dining until 11 p.m., Friday, Dec. 31
533 N. Fourth Ave.
Thirty-seven years isn't an anniversary that most people make a big deal out of—but it's a long time. And that's how long Delectables restaurant has been serving Tucsonans a special dinner on New Year's Eve.
It's a perfect place to dine on this holiday eve, because—aside from the fact that the restaurant's food is delicious, its atmosphere classy and its service impeccable—it is in the middle of the Fourth Avenue/downtown entertainment district. When you're done eating, you'll be just blocks (or less) away from myriad bars, clubs, theaters, art galleries, cafés and other fun venues you might want to be at when the clock strikes midnight.
As Delectables' general manager Chris Baldwin puts it, "This restaurant is the perfect jumping-off point."
Of course, that doesn't mean you can't also be entertained before the "main" New Year's Eve entertainment kicks off. All through your Delectables dinner, you can listen to a variety of musical genres for every (aural) taste, played by husband-and-wife pair dUO VibrAtO. The couple—violinist wife Miray Cakir and guitarist husband Joshua Rhoads—discovered each other in 2005 on the small Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where they were music students. Ever since they played their first duet together, they've amassed an impressive repertoire ranging from classical music to Spanish guitar and tango to early jazz, including the styles of Anita O'Day, Rita Reys and Ella Fitzgerald.
Dinner will be a gourmet four-course prix fixe, including dessert. Sexy mixed drinks made with fancy liqueurs that we can't pronounce (St. Germain, Chambord and Domaine de Canton cocktails) will be available. The whole experience costs $80 per couple. Reservations are strongly encouraged. —A.M.
Tucson Jazz Society's Fifth Annual New Year's Eve Gala
8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 31
J.W Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa
3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd.
If you like smooth jazz—even a little bit—you're going to want to be at the Tucson Jazz Society's 2010 New Year's Eve Gala at the posh J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa. Not only is it the biggest jazz event in town (maybe the state); according to TJS board member Jeff Lewis, it also features some of the biggest smooth-jazz performers out there right now: Rick Braun and a bevy of carefully selected top-notch musicians known around the world.
"This party has no equal in the country," Lewis declares.
Rick Braun is a trumpet player and singer who has been putting out celebrated albums since 1992 and has appeared on many jazz-hit compilations. Before he embarked on a solo career, he played in several famous bands, including guitarist Jeff Golub's Avenue Blue. Now he also plays in the band BWB with saxophonist Kirk Whalum and guitarist Norman Brown.
At the gala, Braun will be performing with guitarist Peter White, keyboardist/composer Jeff Lorber, saxophonist Gerald Albright and the saxophonist's golden-voiced daughter, Selina Albright, on vocals.
Festivities will kick off with what the TJS website calls the "best community big band in the U.S.A.," the Tucson Jazz Institute's Ellington Big Band. Of course there will be a gourmet dinner and two dance floors, with a champagne toast, a balloon drop and party favors at midnight.
"Rick Braun lights up the stage—he's a crowd-pleaser," says Lewis. "He immediately has the audience with him, whether he's speaking, singing or playing. ... People should come down, forget the troubles of 2010 and just chill."
Admission is $189 to $250 and can be purchased online or by phone. —A.M.