Ho, Ho, Ho

Photo by Matt OttoThe invitation suggested proper attire—and you'd have thought the chilly outside air demanded it—but for a few folks at 3 Vodka's Dec. 15 holiday party at Sutra, that didn't seem to matter. From the poor doll in a red sequined bra and high-waisted white pants (her tanned tummy rolls spilling over here and there) to the Goth vixen who'd arrived from 1993 via a wormhole and was clad in a maroon-vinyl bustier and padlock necklace, the dance floor was one big bowl of yikes. Maybe the ladies were illiterate; perhaps they'd been dressed by their daddies; most likely, though, they'd deemed their outfits proper for a party thrown by guest host/3 Vodka part-owner/producer-about-town and most important, Mr. Janet Jackson, Jermaine Dupri.

Who? Exactly.

Okay, in fairness, Dupri is far from being a nobody—he produced Kris Kross, Da Brat, Lil Bow Wow; was recently nominated for four Grammys; is slated to produce the “We are the World” remake, “We are the Future”—but he doesn't register in most people's minds as well as, say, Snoop Dogg. Which may be why, pushing through the capacity crowd toward the bar—where the champagne that had been free from 7 till 9 p.m. was now going for $15 per flute—we heard many names being dropped (“Did you see Paris?” “Think Janet will show?” “I heard Snoop's here!”), but not Dupri's.

Still, it seems Dupri has made a wise investment in 3 Vodka, a no-carb, sugar-free vodka distilled from soy that's been touted by folks at Playboy and Maxim as the way to get crunk in 2005. And as for Sutra—which we had yet to visit—there was simply no better venue for the party. Featuring four stocked bars; a large, sunken dance floor; and an impressively spacious heated smoking patio—with speedy bar access—Sutra more than rivals its Costa Mesa rival, Vegas: in comparison, Vegas is little more than an overpriced, cramped basement bar unworthy of its vaunted status. Overflowing with lights, garland, Christmas trees, poinsettias, faux ice—and better yet, a suspended machine pumping almost-real snow—Sutra's elegance trumped even The O.C.'s SnO.C. Winter Formal as the most stunning holiday party we've witnessed this year.

If you hurry, you might be able to catch the decorations before they're gone—only proper attire or not, it's always best to leave the sequins and vinyl at home.

Two years in the planning,AcropolisRPM's Evolution NYE at the Anaheim Convention Center is the county's largest New Year's Eve party, according to promoter/DJ Daniel Park. With projected ticket sales of 7,000, it easily beats out such other events as the Red Lion New Year's Eve Ball at the Radisson Newport Beach—where the largest room has a 1,500-person capacity—and rivals even the festivities planned in LA.

Modeling Evolution after similar arena-sized productions held in Europe, the promoters have secured the main arena, general lobby, two halls and an outdoor space for a smoking patio. Couches and tables will be sprinkled throughout the convention center floor, but Park notes the main emphasis will be on partying. “Because the way the arenas are shaped,” Park says, “it feels like you're partying outside. Anaheim is smaller [than other arenas], but because of its high ceilings, you don't feel cramped even when there's a lot of people.

“Of course,” he adds, “seating in the bleachers will be open for couples looking for a midnight smooch.”

Sales are 200 tickets ahead of last year's mark and will increase in price—currently they're $50—until New Year's Eve, when they'll be $60. VIP tickets will run $125 but include a separate entrance, private bar, and the chance to mingle with celebrity guests such as Thomas Ian Nicholas of American Pie, Six Feet Under's and The O.C.'s Eric Balfour, and an extra-special, secret performer—Billy Idol? Christina Milian? Coolio? “The details are still being worked out,” explains Park, which seems troubling to us, considering there is only one week left, but he sounds remarkably calm. Whatever the result, our bet's on Coolio.

Sutra is located at 1870 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 722-7103. For more info on Evolution, see www.evolutionnye.com, and don't miss www.ocweekly.com for a list of additional New Year's Eve events.

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