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Let's party

Learning from last year's New Year's Eve soakings, event promoters are back, wiser and with bigger celebrations planned, from downtown L.A. to Orange County. So ...

December 28, 2006|Kevin Bronson | Times Staff Writer

NEW YEAR'S EVE offers the opportunity to look forward, to greet the future with a toast and a smile, to party for the possibilities.

But nobody could blame a trio of Southland event promoters -- and some of their patrons -- for looking over their shoulders at the ghost of New Year's past. One year ago Sunday, rain precipitated the eleventh-hour cancellation of two major celebrations, Giant Village in downtown Los Angeles and Gridlock LA at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, sending ticket-holders scrambling. Another, the inaugural OCNYE "Orange Drop" at the Orange County Fairgrounds, proceeded in citrus-y, pyrotechnic splendor even as its founder knew he was in for a financial bath.

"New Year's Eve can't be rescheduled," says Wayne Coyne, frontman of the psychedelic pop band the Flaming Lips, which were supposed to be one of the headliners last year at Giant Village. "People spend a lot of time and effort to be in a special place on New Year's Eve having their special year."

Indeed, with the echoes of what-if and oh-no still ringing, these events are back with bigger plans and better contingencies. Giant's street festival, called off the afternoon of Dec. 31 last year because of safety concerns, has been re-imagined as Giant Maximus, a three-ring dance-music circus in massive tents pitched in a downtown L.A. parking lot. Gridlock, canceled last year after the collapse of a stage on which the Pussycat Dolls were scheduled to perform, returns to the New York City-styled streets of the Paramount lot with the Killers as headliners -- and the contingency that it can move to indoor soundstages in case of inclement weather. And OCNYE reemerges in Costa Mesa with a retooled promotional team, a deeper lineup anchored by Blondie and, organizers say, the kinks from its freshman year worked out.

With Giant Maximus sprouting a couple of blocks away from Staples Center, there are three major New Year's Eve events within a three-mile radius of downtown. The others? The dependable dance-music festival Together as One goes off at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, and the Flaming Lips join Gnarls Barkley and Cat Power for a concert at the USC Galen Center.

Sound like more fun than Dick Clark, Ryan Seacrest and Christina Aguilera on ABC? Carson Daly and Panic! at the Disco on NBC? MTV's parade of Fall Out Boy, Gwen Stefani, Lady Sovereign and Nas?

The forecast as of Wednesday calls for lows in the mid-40s on Sunday night, with a 10% chance of rain. If you're not one to celebrate on your couch, here's a rundown of major Southland events (and, please, party safely):

Together as One

If nothing else, the ninth annual installment of this bash from Go Ventures and Insomniac Events asserts the steadfast popularity of dance music. "The music is universal," says promoter and DJ Reza Gerani. "There are no racial barriers, no language barriers; it makes for a perfect celebration."

Thousands agree. Together as One attracted a crowd of 18,000 last year (Gerani expected 15,000, but Giant's cancellation gave him a late surge at the door), and more than 20,000 are expected this year. Big numbers? Gerani says more than 30,000 flocked to this year's edition of his Halloween blowout, Monster Massive, so you can forgive the hyperbole when he boasts: "We have the No. 1 DJ in the world at the No. 1 party in the world with the No. 1 promoter in the world."

The first of that troika is the least arguable. Together as One will be headlined by the 35-year-old titan of techno, Paul Van Dyk, with a supporting roster of DJs that includes Deep Dish, Marco V., Christopher Lawrence, Danny Howells and Steve Angello providing the Sports Arena's multiple dance areas with a mix of trance, house and drum-and-bass. The music will be augmented by a laser-light show, other visuals and what the promoter calls "the biggest indoor fireworks show we've ever done."

"The crowd we're going for are the real dance music people," Gerani says.

And isn't that the same crowd as Giant? His reply: "There's room for everybody."

* Together as One, L.A. Sports Arena, 3939 S. Figueroa St., L.A. 7 p.m. $40 to $100. (323) 960-5155; www.newyearsevela.com.

OCNYE's Orange Drop

As he watched the rain last Dec. 31, promoter Rich Goodwin had the feeling he was going to get soaked. "A half an hour before the event, I thought to myself, 'I've got insurance; I could go hide right now and lose only half of what I might,' " he recalls. "But I saw everybody who had worked so hard setting up and the people lined up outside the gate and said, 'Let's roll with it.' "

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