Monday is usually the slowest night of the week, with many bars, clubs and restaurants either nearly deserted or actually closed as people stay home in droves. But with New Year's Eve falling on a Monday this year, the whole town will be jumping.
The most popular spot to welcome the new year, our town square if you will, is of course the Inner Harbor. The big news story there Monday night will be the huge octopus covering the side of the National Aquarium. Well, actually that octopus will be one of the many laser images projected onto the Aquarium and the World Trade Center in a high-tech laser and fireworks show celebrating the Aquarium's new Marine Mammal Pavilion.
Of the many thousands of whoopee-makers gathered at the harbor, more than a few will be coming from the city-sponsored non-alcoholic parties at the Convention Center. "Party With a Pop," 9 p.m.-11:30 p.m., features calypso music by Mama Jama, oldies with the Mahoney Brothers, a cappella singing from Regency, comedian Blaine Capatch, a disc jockey-ruled dance floor, and a chance to make your own music cassette in a Super Star Recording Booth.
The variety of musical events all under the Convention Center roof makes it convenient for families in that if teens are embarrassed to be seen with their parents, they can go to a room of their own.
Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. The price of admission includes free snacks and soda. For more information call 837-4636.
For those who gather around the harbor itself in the hours before midnight, the Scott Cunningham Blues Band plays at the Harborplace Amphitheater 9 p.m.-midnight.
Below is a sampling of what else is available on New Year's Eve. Reservations are required for many parties, and in any event it's a good idea to call ahead rather than get the new year off on a turned-away note.
Of other offerings at the Inner Harbor, you can't get any closer to the watery action than the Bay Lady or Lady Baltimore. Cruises board at 8:15 p.m. and last from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. The price of $88.40 per person includes dinner, open bar and a "Fabulous Fireworks" continental breakfast. For info call 727-3113.
Among hotels within earshot of the fireworks, the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel (962-8300) has several options for the evening. The first, with a nautical theme, begins with a ballroom reception with champagne and hors d'oeuvres 7:30 p.m.-9 p.m., then switches to another ballroom for dancing to the band Odyssey and food from these ports of call: Naples, Hong Kong, Baltimore and New Orleans. Tickets are $179 per couple and include parking. For $339 per couple, you also get an overnight room.
A third option, in the hotel's video nightclub Impulse, runs 9 p.m.-3 a.m. It includes a New Orleans buffet. The cost of $25 per person includes complimentary champagne toast, noisemakers and danish and coffee.
The Hyatt Regency (528-1234) has a party 8 p.m.-2 a.m., costing $40 per person, at which the entertainment includes the Ed Williams Big Band, Beat Clinic and The Klassix.
At the Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore (539-8400), options include a Top 40 band, dinner buffet and overnight accommodations for $250 per couple; dancing to a Top 40 DJ, hors d'oeuvres, large screen TV and a cash bar for $15 per person payable at the door; or dinner in Maestro's.
The Stouffer Harborplace Hotel (547-1200) has a "Midnight Magic" party that includes a reception beginning at 7 p.m., open bar, dinner, palm and tarot card readings, magicians, and the New York City Swing Band and the Freddie Stevens Orchestra '' playing until 2 a.m. Cost: $125 per person.
If overnight accommodations are desired after all that merrymaking, the total comes to $379 per couple. Other Stouffer options that night include a restaurant meal with jazz and contemporary music played by the Mary Brinner Quartet 8 p.m.-1 a.m., and a jazz trio in the lobby bar 8 p.m.-1 a.m.
There is an oldies music-oriented party at the Omni Inner Harbor Hotel (385-6450 or 752-1100), co-sponsored by WQSR-FM, 8 p.m.-2 a.m. It includes a four-course dinner, open bar and midnight champagne toast. The host is the DJ Rouse and Company, and there also will be live performances by the Angels ("My Boyfriend's Back") and The Tokens ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight"). Cost: $119 per couple or $219 per couple with guest room.
The hotel's Baltimore Grille has dinner to the sound of a jazz duo, priced at $38.75 per person or $89 per person including guest room. And the hotel's Corner Bar has a cash bar with light fare menu for a $10 cover charge that includes party favors and champagne toast at midnight ($89 with guest room).
The downtown Holiday Inn (685-3500) has a $229 per couple party package that includes dinner, hors d'oeuvres, champagne, open bar, Top 40 band and overnight accommodations. For $179 per couple, you can have all of the above except dinner and also you'll listen to a DJ rather than a live band.