The end of 2020 fast approaches. What to say about a year that felt like a stagnant whirlwind? The world will never be the same, our country most of all. With 2021 come significant changes in the U.S. government and on our own streets, which are to remain closed. The entire Bay Area has gone into full lockdown, purple tier, stay-at-home — essentially, we shouldn’t go outside. The order lifts (tentatively) on Jan. 7, so we put together a list of the best ways to ring in a new rotation around the sun, without leaving the house for a party.
35th Annual New Year Bell Ringing Ceremony
There’s no need to stay up until midnight to literally ring in 2021. The Asian Art Museum hosts a virtual bell ringing ceremony with Rev. Gengo Akiba, his wife, Yoshie, and others from the Oakland Zen temple, Kojin-an, on New Year’s Eve morning. The museum’s temple bell dates back to 1532, and will be rung 108 times to cleanse the body and spirit of “bonno,” which Rev. Akiba describes as “greed, anger, ignorance” that people manifest throughout the year.
The full program begins at 10 a.m. Thursday with whimsical storytelling and welcome remarks from event and museum organizers before the ceremony starts at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are reserved separately for the storytelling and the ceremony, which marks its 35th year. Admission is free, but donations to help the museum are encouraged.The event will stream on YouTube and Facebook; for more information, visit asianart.org.
If you’re feeling generous, there’s always someone in the city who could use some compassion. Goodwill’s Annual Donate-a-thon will accept contactless donations at 121 Wisconsin St. in San Francisco from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on New Year’s Eve to continue the “mission to create second chances through training and the dignity of work.” Find out what you can and can’t donate here. For more information about the event, go to https://sfgoodwill.org/donateathon/.
Truffle Shuffle Presents The Speakeasy NYE Bash
The Palace Theater’s vaudeville Speakeasy New Year’s party has been the hottest thing in town for years now. Because of pandemic restrictions, the organizers have brought their immersive cabaret to your Zoom screens for a night of charcuterie, dancing and debauchery. The experience traverses three parts, the first of which is a collaboration with local cooking platform Truffle Shuffle to bring ticket holders curated charcuterie boards (with truffles for VIPs) and a video crash course on how to lay it out.
Next, indulge in all your Roaring Twenties fantasies with breakout rooms like fortune-telling, drag advice, chatting with mafiosos and even magic. The night and the year wrap up with a vaudeville show words cannot even describe. Dress to the nines and reach for the stars! Tickets with meal kits, ranging from $95 to $250, are available at www.thespeakeasysf.com/nye2020/.
‘Light at the End’ Party
This is not another Zoom party, we promise. In fact, “Light at the End” is not even on Zoom. To close out 2020, Dragon Theatre in Redwood City has curated a night of aerial performances, cocktail tutorials, a fashion contest and even fortune-telling to escape into. Should they get a hankering, guests can also order specialty meals delivered to their house courtesy of a collaboration with Oakland-based restaurants Sobre Mesa and alaMar Kitchen. Art from MUSA’s network of local artists will bedeck the virtual space hosted by Gather, an online communication platform that combines the video conferencing of Zoom with a 2D world using the nostalgic graphics of an early GameBoy game.
The four-hour event begins at 8 p.m. Thursday, punctuated by numerous New Year’s toasts to ring in 2021 in multiple time zones. Tickets start at $25 and are available at https://dragon.vbotickets.com/event/Light_at_the_End/49084
Cal Performances at Home
Enjoy performances from the likes of Yo-Yo Ma and other classical performers from the comfort of your living room — or your bed. UC Berkeley has hosted numerous Cal Performances at Home since the first shelter-in-place orders moved shows to the virtual sphere, and this is no exception. The holiday-themed, pre-recorded performances will air New Year’s Eve and feature a mix of soloists and ensembles performing works from the likes of Beethoven to Kool & the Gang. And at this point, who doesn’t want to say goodbye to 2020?! Tickets, $15-$60, are scaled based on how many viewers per device. The streaming starts at 8 p.m. Thursday. Find tickets and information at https://calperformances.org/at-home/.