Was it Dean Martin — or some other Rat Packer — who first said New Year's Eve is for amateurs? He was right, of course. The night that was once about wistfully ringing out the old and resolving to make better the new, while sharing a toast with friends, lovers and strangers, has basically devolved into … well, a night of dancing drunk to shitty music.
But wait, this is Detroit! There's too much good talent and taste here to make this night anything other than extraordinary, even life-changing. Um, right. So, let's make a resolution now to make it happen next year, kids. Sorry to report that the best of this year's holiday parties — the Family reunion with Derek Plaslaiko, Michael Geiger and Brian Gillespie at the Works; Atkins, D. Wynn, Minx and Saunderson at Oslo — will be long over before the ball drops on '07.
By far, the best of the pre-NYE events takes place tonight (Dec. 26), when ex-Detroiter Daniel Bell returns to perform a four-hour set at Oslo. Bell was a significant player in the so-called second wave of Detroit techno, when a wide range of fledgling artists, such as Richie Hawtin, John Acquaviva, Stacy Pullen and Bell, began to retool and re-shape the digital world at their fingertips. (And that doesn't even include all the talent being mobilized beneath the Underground Resistance banner at roughly the same time). Along with Hawtin and Acquaviva, Bell was part of the group Cybersonik, which released the still-hot "Technarchy" in 1990. As DBX, he recorded "Trance Missions" two years later on his own Seventh City label, before dropping "Losing Control" for Britain's Peacefrog imprint. Many think that track defines the 1990s minimal acid ethos — with its scorching combo of Chicago house, Detroit techno and understated UK hardcore — and still serves as a blueprint for the countless stripped-down jackin' bangers that came in its wake.
Bell — who moved to Berlin, basing his operations both there and in this country — is getting a comp together of Seventh City classics that'll be available soon, reportedly as a three-disc vinyl package. In the meantime, drop everything you're doing and rush down to experience one of the great ones in the flesh at Oslo, 1456 Woodward, Detroit; doors at 9 p.m.; $6.
Another pre-NYE party worth checking out is the jam-packed event called U&I Celebrate, which will feature three rooms of house, electro, drum 'n' bass, hip hop, funky soul-jazz and God knows what else. In other words, the scene will be full of, uh, cats and jammers. The billing promises "a lineup so diverse, there's something for everyone." And, damn, this time it looks like the hype is fo' real. Some of the featured guests: House peeps Mike "Agent X" Clark, Stacey Hale and Bruce Bailey performing in the Motown Room. D'n'B warlords Matt Clark and Ojibiwa in another room. Floridians Muggles, Luis Diaz and Villo; Liverpool's Buddha, and a reunion of the 1990s Detroit funk powerhouse jam band, Enemy Squad, (featuring Gabe Gonzales and Piranhahead) will all be in the main room. Dec. 29 at Bert's Warehouse Theater in Eastern Market, 2739 Russell St., Detroit; $20 at the door for all three rooms, $10 for the Motown room only.
As for New Year's Eve proper, here are your choices: Stay downtown and check out a Detroit Paranormal Society and Detroit Underground co-production featuring former Rochester Hills teen-dream Jimmy Edgar — now all grown up (he's 24) and currently slinging his big beats in New York — in addition to both Chicago's the Flashbulb and Toronto's Teste. Also appearing: Windsor audiovisual breakcore raconteur Kero, along with Vacuum and Jeremy Nida, among others. At Detroit Beer Company, 1529 Broadway, Detroit; $10 before 11 p.m., $15 after that.
Not your style? More interested in house? Well, then, head a mile or so west on Michigan Avenue to take in Border Patrol (Jason Hodges and Chuck Daniels) performing a four-turntable set at Corktown Tavern (1716 Michigan Ave., Detroit). Also on the bill: Tim Nobody, Big Joe Hix vs. Christos and others. Doors at 8 p.m.; $10 before 11 p.m., $15 after 11.
Stuck in Ann Arbor? Sorry to hear that, pal. Make it all the better at Incognito, a NYE bash being thrown in the Redroom at Necto (516 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor), featuring Seoul, Ronin Selecta and T. Linder. Starts 9 p.m.; $25 at the door.
If a midnight make-out party appeals more to your prurient tastes, then jump over to the Blind Pig (208 S. First St., Ann Arbor) for the annual NYE debauchery presented by that gang known as The Bang! Who's DJing? Who cares? It's a free-for-all that begins at 9:30 p.m. and ends up on somebody's couch sometime early in the next year. Cover is $15.
For a real alternative to NYE madness, your best bet might be to stay curled up at home with a good book. Make that an online book by Vince Patricola, best known around town as the increasingly shaggy-haired DJ Shortround. Patricola's labor of love, Detroit Electronic Quarterly, is currently Web-only, with its latest edition out Christmas Day. It's packed with stories and pics overflowing with local love for such artists as Dabrye, Reggie Dokes, party promoter Adriel Fantastique and the now Holland-based DJ 3000 (the latter once profiled by your Subterraneans scribe; obligatory full disclosure and all). The site's just a click away at detroiteq.com.The Subterraneans is a regular column dedicated to Detroit dance culture. Send comments or bitch-slaps to email@example.com