Old West for the New Year
Santa's Little Outlaws Stunt Show
6:30 and 7:30 p.m.
Trail Dust Town
6541 E. Tanque Verde Road
So Santa came to town, and while he was using the outhouse, lovable outlaws Ringo and Darla accidentally knocked him out. Now the pair is dressed in Santa's clothes and running from the marshal—who's given them until the count of 5,387 to get out of town—and trying, with their hired-hand, Lackey, to outfox Bad Bob Humbug—a real evil guy.
To find out how this story ends, you'll have to watch Santa's Little Outlaws, a stunt show put on by the Pinnacle Peak Pistoleros this New Year's Eve (and every other night through Jan. 3). It's a 25-minute performance set in the heart of Trail Dust Town, Tucson's "in-town Western town," and it's got slapstick comedy and plenty of action—including gunfights, punching, throwing, flips, falls off two-story buildings and explosions galore. The performance is best for kids older than 8 who can handle loud noises.
"A lot of people go to see action films," said the show's director, Jerry Woods, who also does stunts in the show. "But to see the action live is a lot of fun. And since we've been doing this for 14 years, we've gotten to where we can put on a really silly, over-the-top, high-energy show. ... The actors really enjoy it and have a great time onstage."
(While being interviewed, Woods was interrupted by one of his actors arriving late to work. "Hey, there's a guy being roped here right now," he tells me. "That's what you get for being late!")
Originally constructed as a movie set, Trail Dust Town has wooden boardwalks, red-brick streets, an old-fashioned town square and a big centerpiece gazebo that will make you feel like you're in the Old West (without the drive to Old Tucson).
The Santa's Little Outlaws show is free, though donations are welcome; other stunt shows take place most nights throughout the year. While at Trail Dust Town, you can also ride the carousel and miniature train, pan for gold, visit gift shops and the old-time photography studio, and eat at the Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse.
American Shorttrack Racing Expo New Year's Eve Party
6 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Desert Diamond Hotel Casino
7350 S. Nogales Highway
If you think 2009 flew by, wait 'til you see the cars at the 2010 American Shorttrack Racing Expo, which will be kicked off this New Year's Eve with a party that's sure to rev the engine of any racecar fan.
The party will include talks by a slew of race-car drivers who'll be participating in races, as they get behind the mic to share stories about their work and their sport. Then they'll turn over the stage to a bunch of ladies in bikinis for the Miss American Shorttrack Beauty Pageant—the winner of which will not only earn a cash prize, but get to hang around the expo every day and perform ceremonial functions. In a bikini. (Don't worry—she'll be inside.)
From 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., there will be dancing and live music by Tucson Area Music Awards (aka TAMMIES) honorees the Dusty Buskers, who'll play what their Web site calls "unique arrangements of Americana and Irish tunes full of hobos, heartbreak, trains and spirits—the kinds you drink from a bottle, the ones that haunt you after death and the sort that need lifting."
Kids will have fun learning about cars and playing in the jumping castle, while adults can drink Jalopy Beer specially brewed by Nimbus. There will also be a go-cart racetrack where anyone can race for $10 a go.
The expo itself, running through Jan. 2, will feature hundreds of manufacturers, suppliers and distributors of race-car parts and accessories from around the country—promoting everything in motor sports from circle-track racing to drag racing. It's a first-time expo, but event coordinator Hal Burns says it's going to be annual from now on.
"Bringing national race-car vendors, manufacturers and suppliers to Tucson has never been done before," Burns declares. "People will be able to see some of the new racing stuff that's out there across the U.S. Whether you're a gearhead or not, this will be a fun deal."
The party will cost $10; all ages are welcome.
Dancing With Fire
Elemental Artistry performance
6:30 and 10 p.m.
536 N. Fourth Ave.
Fireworks make a great addition to any New Year's Eve event. But real fire—manipulated by people dancing with it—is even better.
This New Year's Eve, local fire-dance troupe Elemental Artistry will put on two special shows on the patio of Fourth Avenue's brand-new Sky Bar. Following a French-circus theme, the troupe will use a variety of props and tools—including pois, hula hoops and staffs—to dance with fire, juggle fire and even swallow fire in a fantastic, 20-minute show that will have your heart racing and your mind marveling.
"Fire dancing is amazing, because it takes something you've been told to be afraid of your whole life, and all of a sudden, you're in control of it," says Michelle Larson, a fire dancer and one of Elemental Artistry's artistic directors. "It allows people to express themselves and harness something that's extremely powerful as their very own dance partner. People should go to this event, because it's different, and it's powerful, and it's exhilarating to watch."
The New Year's Eve shows, dubbed "Cirque du Illumine," will feature Michelle "Firegrace" Bass, a world-champion baton twirler and another one of the troupe's artistic directors, as well as Larson and other members of the troupe.
While neither performance will be happening when the clock strikes midnight, they're conveniently timed to let you incorporate other New Year's Eve plans. Get dinner on Fourth Avenue and watch the 6:30 p.m. show before, after or even while you eat—after all, you can see the performance from the sidewalk. Or watch the 10 p.m. show and still have plenty time to hit a party (or join the First Night celebration downtown) before the year turns.
Elemental Artistry performs at Sky Bar every Friday night (except for Jan. 1) at 6 and 7:30 p.m. The troupe also gives lessons and runs workshops on fire dancing.
Both of Thursday's performances are free.
Party Like It's Vegas
New Year's Eve Masquerade Party
5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
445 W. Wetmore Road
It's New Year's Eve. Wish you were in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas—or anywhere but little ol' Tucson? Thanks to Pearl Nightclub, you can pretend.
Pearl is no ordinary club. Self-dubbed as Tucson's only "Las Vegas-style" entertainment venue, it combines a high-energy dance club with a lavish, exotic lounge atmosphere and ultra-cool features like an oxygen bar, a licensed smoking patio with a hookah lounge and video-projection area, a room with patent-leather walls and even an "omnisex" restroom. (We don't know what that is, but it sure sounds sophisticated.)
This New Year's Eve, Pearl will throw a huge masquerade ball with two guest DJs spinning the music—all your favorites, largely dance music, from the '60s through 2009—in two different rooms, as well as live jazz music and covers by a three-piece band led by Tucson's Paul Marin. Every hour, there'll be a different drink special—and Pearl has all the best drinks, including Tucson's largest selection of champagne. Of course, you can get bottle service—and limo service, and most any other kind of service you could ask for from a nightclub.
Pearl general manager Damian Calderon isn't afraid to brag: "We're the best place in Tucson—the classiest, the nicest, the cleanest, the safest. Our New Year's Eve party is sold out every year; we usually party with about 1,200 people. It's almost like being in a huge city, like Vegas. It's just something you have to be involved in—the intensity is amazing."
The party costs $25 per person, which includes guaranteed entry, party favors and champagne; table reservations start at $50. You must dress classy to match your surroundings, and since it's a masquerade party, wear a mask (but if you don't have one, Pearl will provide).