If there’s one thing we’ve learned in 2016, it’s that life is unpredictable, and having one’s expectations upended can be as exciting as it is unnerving.
Through no fault of my own, I have ended up the father of an especially charming 10-year-old who leads me into things I never would have predicted for my future when I was a younger, cooler man.
Just the other day, I found myself enveloped in the shrieking cacophony of Sabrina Carpenter fans at Fort Lauderdale’s Parker Playhouse. This was less than 24 hours after we had left the teen-spirit torment (for me) of the Jingle Ball at the BB&T Center.
Both Carpenter and the Jingle Ball acts were at the end of their respective tours, a juncture that seemed to put these young people in an unexpectedly reflective frame of mind. In particular, Alessia Cara and Lukas Graham at Jingle Ball, Carpenter and her opening act, the folk-pop trio Harletson, all paused to lament “all the hate in the world.”
But each reminded the thousands in their mostly female audiences that the antidote to such a poisonous atmosphere would be found in them, young people bound by the optimism and self-respect instilled in their favorite music.
One of the most memorable moments in each concert was watching a legion of girls singing the lyrics to Cara’s girl-power, anti-body-shaming hit “Scars to Your Beautiful” (which Harletson covered): “There's a hope that's waiting for you in the dark. / You should know you're beautiful just the way you are. / And you don't have to change a thing. / The world could change its heart.”
I didn’t expect to walk away from the Jingle Ball or a Sabrina Carpenter show feeling more hopeful about the future, but that’s how life is. Looking ahead to plans for New Year’s Eve next weekend, here are some ways to transition into 2017 with your spirits up.
NEW YEAR'S EVE STARS
Pitbull: South Florida is the center of the universe on New Year’s Eve as far as the Fox network is concerned, with a live broadcast of Pitbull’s party at Miami’s Bayfront Park. Mr. 305 will be joined by such timeless party-jammers as Nelly, Naughty by Nature, Salt ‘N’ Pepa, Coolio, Biz Markie, Rob Base, Young MC and Tone Loc. Info: Facebook.com/PitbullNYE.
Justin Bieber: Tickets to his poolside concert at the Fontainebleau can still be had in a variety of packages, beginning with general admission at $350 and $500 (including open bar). All the VIP tables are gone, but there is availability for a poolside cabana for 15, including about as much booze as you’re likely to need, for a tick under $50,000 (factoring in fees and tip). God bless, America. Info: Fontainebleau.com/NYE.
Skrillex: Likewise, tickets remain for the Grammy-winning DJ and producer’s party in the Fontainebleau’s luxe Liv nightclub. Tickets start at $250 (for entry after 1 a.m.) and $400 (before 1 a.m.), as well as a large menu of VIP options. Info: Fontainebleau.com/NYE.
Marshmello: The masked avenger will spin as part of Fontainebleau NYE events at Story, the resort's sister Miami Beach nightclub at the other end of Collins Avenue. The only tickets left for Marshmello are VIP tables, beginning at $3,000 (plus fees), with seats for six. Go figure. Info: StoryMiami.com.
Nicki Minaj: The sassy hip-hop star will bring her signature sartorial style and a new hit, “Black Barbies,” to E11even Miami, filling the headliner spot once planned for Jennifer Lopez. DJ Irie will spin. Tickets: $300, includes an open bar with passed hors d’oeuvres from 9 to 11 p.m., and a champagne toast . Info: 11Miami.com/NYE.
The Roots: The Grammy-winning hip-hop ensemble, maybe the best thing about “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon,” performs at Miami’s Arsht Center. Tickets: Tickets: $50, $90, $110, $125 and $150, as well as meet-and-greet VIP packages $575-$5,000. Info: ArshtCenter.org.
Billy Joel: Two years in a row? We’re calling this a residency. The Piano Man returns to the BB&T Center in Sunrise with a New Year’s Eve show that must include his apocalyptic “science-fiction” song, written 40 years ago, “Miami 2017.” Tickets will cost $49.50-$159.50. Info: TheBBTCenter.com.
DJ Spinderella: One of our favorite boutique inns on South Beach, the Gale Hotel offers a party for those who want to go high, and those who want to go low. New Year’s Eve in the subterranean Rec Room will feature music from Salt 'n’ Pepa’s DJ Spinderella, along with Iron Lyon and Furbzz, and a four-hour premium open bar. Tickets start at $79. Info: Facebook.com/RecRoomies. Up top, the Gale roof-top party includes a dinner buffet, five-hour premium open bar, DJ and a front seat to the fireworks display. Tickets start at $159. Info: GaleHotel.com.
The Fat Jew: Josh Ostrovsky (the Fat Jew), a social-media phenomenon best known in some quarters for presenting comedy bits written by other people as his own, has been a pioneer in flipping fuzzy ethical behavior into fame. He’ll host the party with Kanye West designer Virgil Abloh at Basement Miami in the Miami Beach Edition hotel (2901 Collins Ave., Miami Beach). Tickets: $200 (with three-hour open bar). Info: BasementMiami.com.
Shawn Wayans: The mind that helped create the parody films “White Chicks,” “Scary Movie” and “Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Driving Your Juice in the Hood” will have some fun with the current zeitgeist during five shows at the Fort Lauderdale Improv at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, beginning Thursday, Dec. 29. Tickets to his 10 p.m. Dec. 31 show are $46.65 and include a two-person dessert platter and party favors. Other tickets are $25. Info: FTL.Improv.com.
Jim Breuer: The former “Saturday Night Live” cast member is doing four shows at the Palm Beach Improv Dec. 30-31, including a 10 p.m. NYE show that comes with a shared dessert platter for two and party favors for $46.65. Other shows cost $27. Info: PalmBeach.Improv.com.
NEW YEAR'S EVE BARS
Bowery Ball: Bowery Live at CityPlace in West Palm Beach debuts its new stage with the Bowery Ball New Year’s Eve party hosted by DJ Mark Longnecker of Spike TV’s “Ink Masters” and a lineup of entertainment topped by the sassy Beebs and her Money Makers. Tickets: $50-$150. Info: BoweryPB.com.
Respectable Street: With help from bands such as Guy Harvey, Wake Up, and Dead and Loving It, Respectable Street in downtown West Palm Beach is throwing a New Year’s Eve party that channels the music of a different decade every hour, beginning with the 1970s at 10 p.m. Perhaps to get you in the mood, on Thursday, Dec. 29, the club will host a bill topped by the Reverend Horton Heat and the great Jello Biafra. Merry Christmas. Tickets: $30 advance, $35 at the door. Info: Facebook.com/RespectableStreet.
LauderAle: The Fort Lauderdale nano brewery is in full-on holiday mode, including an “Elf” watch party on Thursday (Dec. 22) at 7 p.m. and the Ugly Santa Sweater Disco event with DJ WellFed Boy 8-11:30 p.m. Friday (Dec. 23). On Dec. 31, the New Year’s party will include music, passed hors d'oeuvres, open bar (18 beers on tap, including a special, secret release) and a champagne toast for $60. Info: Facebook.com/LauderAle.
C&I Studios: The smart crowd will gather in Fort Lauderdale's Flagler Village for a party that includes the excellent double bill of groove-rock trio Vincent Mango and the genre-bending soul of Black & Creme, plus DJ Tonx and DJ So What!, video games and a few drinks. Info: Facebook.com/CIStudios.
Ball & Chain: The high-energy holiday celebrations get going 9 p.m. Friday (Dec. 23) with the traditional celebration of Festivus and a performance by the Spam Allstars. The New Year’s Eve party will feature a 10 p.m. performance by Tito Puente Jr. on the Pineapple Stage. Tickets, which include a premium open bar from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., cost $100. Other VIP packages are available. Info: BallAndChainMiami.com.
Due Year’s Eve: Boynton Beach’s Due South Brewing will celebrate the new year with its Due Year's Eve party at 8 p.m. in a new spot in downtown Lake Worth, Lilo's Lake Worth (701 Lake Ave.), featuring the heady music of Octo Gato and plenty of food and beer. Info: Facebook.com/DueSouthBrewing.
Funky Buddha Brewery: The Oakland Park beer destination’s no-cover party will offer the Florida-bred funk and soul of Fusik at 9:30 p.m., as well as a new batch of its popular No Crusts PB&J brown ale. Info: FunkyBuddhaBrewery.com.
B Square Burgers & Booze: Fort Lauderdale's bustling Las Olas restaurant flips the switch on its New Year’s Eve party at 9:30 p.m., with a DJ, champagne toast and open bar for $75 (plus tax and tip). The new year also will encourage the sorcerers in the B Square kitchen to debut the Epic Burger, stuffed with caramelized apples and onions, and topped with smoked gouda and confit pork belly in a savory chocolate miso glaze and shoestring fries. Diet, what diet? Info: BSquareBurger.com.
Bitter Truth: A just-opened spot in Miami’s Midtown, Bitter Truth (3252 NE First Ave.) hopes to make a reputation on its respect for well-crafted cocktails and live music. That its Dec. 31 party includes a performance by SunGhosts bodes well for its future. Info: BitterTruthMiami.com.
Two&: The Fort Lauderdale bike shop and art space, with a full bar (or is it an art shop and bike bar with full space), Two& (1517 E. Las Olas Blvd.) will host the plucky Copper Tones in a laidback, no-jerks sendoff to 2016. Info: Facebook.com/TwoAndWhatever.
Cash Only: The newest bar to challenge the riddle of Fort Lauderdale’s woebegone Riverfront is called Cash Only, opening Dec. 29 with a performance by the Spam Allstars, among others. Based on that alone, who’s to say these guys won’t get it right? Check the club out on New Year’s Eve, or on Jan. 14, when Biz Markie hits Cash Only (15 W. Las Olas Blvd.). Info: Facebook.com/CashOnlyFTL.
Neon New Year’s Eve: Xtreme Action Park (5300 S. Powerline Road, Fort Lauderdale) will host the Neon New Year’s Eve Party on its new 12,000-square-foot roller skating rink, with projection screens with a live feed from Times Square, and a free champagne toast. Tickets: $20.17 advance, $25 at the door. Those 21 and older can upgrade to VIP passes, which includes open bar and buffet 8 p.m.-1 a.m., for $75 advance and $95 at the door. Info: XtremeActionPark.com.