Let’s be honest: NO ONE is going to miss 2020. Okay, maybe one person will, but we won’t talk about them.
If this were like any other New Year’s, we’d send out the dumpster fire that has been 2020 in an exuberant rush of lavish parties, complete with champagne, floor length gowns, and noisemakers. In an ironic twist, however, the very horribleness of the year prevents us from doing just that. So instead of gathering with our closest friends and family, or dancing away in a club filled with strangers, we’re mostly confined to our own homes — even with the booze and decorations, things just won’t be the same.
Fortunately, virtual events are now offering a New Year’s pandemic alternative that allows us to stay connected beyond our immediate circles. They offer viable free or low-cost alternatives to that expensive New Year’s bash or give us a chance to use our dollars to support independent venues or LGBTQ+ artists and organizations.
So if you’re looking to capture the New Year’s spirit, here are nine (mostly) virtual events for you to check out.
Sanctuary was founded by exotic dancer Andre Shakti as a virtual strip club for dancers —particularly queer, BIPOC, and persons of size — to perform safely and earn some much needed cash during the Covid lockdown. They’ll be ringing in 2021 with a special NYE Bash: “Bad Strip Club Song” Night (8 p.m. to 11 p.m. EST, $5 admission) featuring Shakti, Gigi Holliday, Captain Eli, and Lorna. You can also catch their performances year-round every Thursday. Tickets are available on the club’s website and through Eventbrite. 100% of the proceeds go to the night’s performers.
If it’s indie artists and venues you’d like to support, then check out Nite Wave ‘80s New Year’s Eve Party (10 p.m. PST), a virtual concert presented by Seattle’s Nectar Lounge as part of its Virtual Concert Series. The Nectar Lounge, which opened in 2004, is the city’s largest indoor/outdoor performance venue, hosting musicians of all genres. The event is pay-what-you-will, although recommended donations start at $20.
Zami Nobla, the National Organization of Black Lesbians on Aging, an advocacy group and educational resource for Black lesbians over 40, will host Women Sweet on Women New Year’s Eve Party on Zoom (8 p.m. EST, $10 admission for members, $20 non-members). The event will feature performances by singer/songwriter Gaye Adegbalola and Jackie Merritt and Resa Gibbs of the blues trio M.S.G. Tickets are available through Eventbrite, with a link provided through the organization’s website.
Washington D.C’s A League of Her Own (ALOHO), one of the country’s few remaining lesbian (and lesbian-owned) bars, will host Bring on 2021, Love ALOHO, a virtual New Year’s Eve Celebration (9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. 1/1/21 EST). Bid good riddance to 2020 as you dance the night away to live music spun by DJ Mim and enjoy festive cocktail recommendations from ALOHO’s bartenders. General Admission costs $20; $50 and $100 tickets are also available and come with a contactless pickup cocktail kit swag bags. ALOHO, which is one of only 15 lesbian bars left in the United States, was recently featured in The Lesbian Bar Project’s Virtual Roundtable hosted by GO’s Dayna Troisi.
If you’d like to support your local lesbian bar, live in the southeast, and would prefer to celebrate (safely) in person, then check out New Year’s Eve Drag King Show (10 p.m. EST, $5 admission) at Herz, Mobile, Alabama’s only lesbian bar (and Lesbian Bar Project member). The event will feature live performances by drag kings and burlesque dancers.
For a virtual drag show, celebrate the New Year with Trixie Mattel, Miz Cracker, Bob the Drag Queen and other RuPaul’s Drag Race favorites in New Year’s Queens (6 p.m. to 5 a.m. EST/3 p.m. to 2 a.m. PST). The 11-hour streaming event, hosted live from New York and Los Angeles, will feature an all-star line-up of queens including Jujubee, Ginger Minj, Jinkx Monsoon, and BeBe Zahara Benet. Tickets start at $49 for general admission, with additional packages available that allow access to after parties, Q&A sessions, and other goodies (range $80-$499). Meet & Greets with your favorite queens are also available for $149.
Mama Ru will be ringing in the New Year, too, with an appearance in YouTube’s Hello 2021 (10:30 p.m. EST for American broadcast, free admission) a global celebration that will be broadcast across four continents. Hello 2021 is set to feature special guests, musical performances, and dance parties. Five different shows will stream across India, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States, each featuring different celebrity guests and performers; the American broadcast will include appearances by RuPaul and Demi Lovato and a performance by Dua Lipa.
For early birds, or those looking for some family-friendly fun, you might want to check out Secret Speakeasy (7 p.m. to 9 p.m. EST, $10 admission) a New Year’s celebration sponsored by New York’s Museum of Interesting Things. The event will feature 16mm vintage films, antiques you can handle virtually, and a karaoke sing-along/dance party featuring music throughout the decades. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite.
Finally, what would the New Year be without a celebration in Times Square? Although the Square itself will be empty of its usual revelers, the show will go on, complete with legendary performers and, of course, the ball drop. You can catch it all on “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” (8 p.m. EST on ABC), the grand dame of New Year’s celebrations that has broadcast on ABC since 1972. This year’s performers include Jennifer Lopez, Cyndi Lauper, and Billy Porter, with a special performance of “I Will Survive” by the legendary Gloria Gaynor — a fitting reminder to us all as we close out a year that most of us wish to put far behind us.