Second night

It used to be First Night. Now it’s the Downtown Countdown. Sort of like with the pajama-pajahma argument, though, it still feels like New Year’s Eve no matter what you call it. All that really matters is that you make plans to shake your groove thing somewhere.

That said, here are a few suggestions for what not to do on New Year’s Eve: 1) Don’t cheat on your spouse with a tenor who can hit a high A. 2) Don’t get arrested for civil misconduct. 3) Don’t go to jail in someone else’s place (especially if that someone is the guy whose wife you’re coveting). 4) Don’t go to the ball dressed as A) your employer (and then flirt with her husband) or B) a Hungarian Countess (unless you can sing a song in your supposed native language). 5) Finally, don’t show up at the clink dressed as a judge when you’re the one on trial.

Now, here’s what you can do: Spend the evening at Asheville Lyric Opera’s black-tie Opera Ball — where, in a performance of a vignette from Die Fledermaus, all these aforementioned breeches of etiquette take place. Call it vicarious mischief.

The Opera Ball, a fundraiser for ALO, is the premier event this New Year’s Eve. Read: Here’s what to do if hitting the clubs and slamming glasses with strangers wearing plastic top-hats and confetti tiaras isn’t your idea of classy.

Far from partying like it’s 1999, attendees of the soiree — held at Diana Wortham Theatre — will enjoy a very dignified three-course meal whipped up by Chef Michael. Dinner is served at 7:30 p.m., followed by the opera. After the show, dance the night away to Big Band tunes. Finally, at 12 p.m., avoid the shivering masses at midnight by taking in the fireworks from the top of the Pack Place building.

All this glamour for a mere … well, for $125 per person.

Want even more glitz? Upgrade to the Extravagant Evening Package, which includes limo transportation and an after-party, wee-hours brunch for an additional $100 per person. (For tickets, call 236-0670.)

Of course, not everyone is ready or able for such poshness when it comes time to belt out “Auld Lang Syne.” In fact, if you’re under, say, 10, you’re lucky if you keep your eyes open long enough to witness the clock strike 12. So, for younger merrymakers and their entourages, there’s the Family Countdown, to be held 7-11:30 p.m. at the Civic Center. Crafts, games, ice-skating and a battle of the bands — teen bands, that is — round out the booze-free affair. Continuing with the PG theme, adolescent Beatles tribute outfit Yesterday’s Tomorrow will take the stage for the duration. So, there may be no champagne toast or cruise in the limousine, but $5 gets you in, and, if you’re under 4, it’s free. (For tickets, call 257-4500.)

No matter which camp you’re with, don’t forget to lay down your skates/tiara/feather boa and head to City/County plaza ’round midnight for the annual fireworks show.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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