THIS NEW Year's Eve, we find ourselves with an honorary weekend plopped in the middle of the week. So before we left for the holidays, we rounded up the following passel of places to go and make noise that night.
(Whatever you do, drive safely. And have fun. See you next year.)
*Our town is "Puttin' on the Glitz" for its annual New Year's Eve bash at the Pavilion at the Old Post Office. This year's truly impressive entertainment lineup features James Brown (the Godfather of Soul, Mr. Please Please Please, etc.), plus Cab Calloway, Willie Colon, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Del Fuegos, Experience Unlimited, On Beyond Zebra, the LaVerne Reed Dancers, Bill Harris and the D.C. Jazz Workshop Orchestra.
And at midnight, an estimated 50-60,000 people will watch a large replica of the 1986 U.S. Postal Service Love Stamp slowly descend from the top of the Post Office tower, by the rockets' red glare of fireworks by the Grucci Brothers.
The free fun begins at 8 p.m. in and around the Old Post Office and the Shops at National Place, 12th and Pennsylvania Ave. NW. The Metro system will operate until 2 a.m. Call 727-6606.
*Not to be outdone, Baltimore brings in the new with "Baltimore Bandstand," where for $6, revelers can attend four different parties with four different bands at the Baltimore Convention Center. The non-alcoholic event begins at 9 and ends at 11:45 p.m. Then everyone runs outside to watch the fireworks over the Inner Harbor. This year they've added a laser and computer animation display and a numerical laser countdown to the midnight fireworks display. Call 301/837-4636.
*They'll be whooping it up at the Kennedy Center, too. You can see the bubbly "Aren't We All?" for $40. Or for the bargain price of $7.50 to $15, you can hear Alexander Schneider and Friends' annual "A Night in Old Vienna" concert of waltz music in the Concert Hall. Everyone who buys a ticket for KenCen performances that day (American Film Institute Theater included) is invited to dance and drink champagne after the concert in the Grand Foyer. Call 254-3600.
*If you can't manage to be the life of the party, you can send some spirits: Call 1/800- BUBBLES and the Delaware-based company will giftwrap and express your choice of 50 champagnes (they also have a selection of non- alcoholic drinks) to the party intended.
*Looking for a pleasurable resolution? See some real live theater this year.
You can hardly call yourself a Washingtonian if you haven't seen "Banjo Dancing." Banjo dancer Stephen Wade offers a last chance to see it in the old year -- he's added a pair of special New Year's Eve shows at 7 and 10 p.m. at Arena's Old Vat Room. 488-3300.
*The Chinese New Year doesn't really start till February (1986 will be the Year of the Tiger), but China Harbor Restaurant in Rockville gets a head start with its New Year's dinner party, featuring Chinese lion dancing at midnight, and a handmade noodle demonstration. You'll need reservations for this one, at Wintergreen Plaza in Rockville. Call 340-8778.
*The bawdy cabaret revue at La Nicoise may be the most enjoyably bad show in town. And with French food served by rollerskating waiters, it makes for a memorable New Year's Eve, at 1721 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 965-9300.
*Start the year with a laugh. The Crystal City Comedy Club, 420 South 23rd St., Arlington, features comic Bill Kirchenbauer before and after dinner. Call 920-3223. Other area comedy clubs are sure to have something special planned, so check the paper.
*Rock in the New Year: NRBQ and our hometown Slickee Boys make some noise at the Warner Theater beginning at 9 p.m. The Warner is at 513 13th St. NW. Tickets are $17.50. Call 385-0044. And at Constitution Hall, try a triple bill of smooth soul with the Manhattans, the Dells and the Chi-Lites. There are two shows, at 7:30 and 11:30 p.m. Tickets are $17. Call 432-0200.
* The 9:30 Club is always an offbeat place to start the year on the beat, and this new wave New Year's Eve party is no exception. It features Doctor Scantlin and his 11-piece Imperial Palms Orchestra. Owner Dody Bowers is bringing in potted palms and other touches for a speakeasy-era atmosphere. Admission is $15, at 930 F St. NW. Call 393-0930. And at the Roxy, it should be a wild night with Barrence Whitfield and the Savages, admission $10, at 1214 18th St. NW. Call 296-9292.
*You can have a Reggae New Year at Kilimanjaro, with the Pacesetters Steel Orchestra, fire and limbo dancers, noisemakers, and a French/Caribbean/African buffet. $30 with dinner; $17 without. The toasting begins at 8. 1724 California St. NW. 328-3838.
*You heard it here first -- the polka will be BIG in 1986. The Polish Club of College Park is ahead of the trend with its New Year's Eve Polka Dance and Dinner, 8:30 to 1:30. at White Oak Armory, Cherry Hill Road, Silver Spring. Music by the Polka Hitmen; tickets $17.50. 345-4767.
*Most of the hotels around town are throwing big parties, complete with orchestras, noisemakers, champagne, etc., and many offer a reduced room rate for those who wish to stay over. Lots of your favorite area bars and restaurants offer special entertainment that evening, too. Check the paper.
*For a non-alcoholic approach, there's an "alternative New Year's Eve celebration" with soft cider, cookies and acoustic folk music at Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda. Performing will be Side by Side (Doris Justis and Sean McGhee) and Lou Morales. Admission is $6; the party runs from 8 to midnight. The church is at 6601 Bradley Boulevard. For information, call 686-9210 or 261- 6443.
*The New Year's Eve Casino Night at McLean Gardens condominium will have such guest croupiers as WRC-TV's Steve Doocy and former Redskin George Starke. Besides the games, the evening includes buffet dinner, dancing, champagne at midnight and an auction, for a tax-deductible $45 which benefits Big Sisters of the Washington Metropolitan Area. The casino, at 3811 Porter St. NW, opens at 8:30. 662-7575 or 885-4098.
*This one's expensive, but hey, D.C.'s own go-go champs Trouble Funk are the featured entertainment at the annual lavishly decorated Young Friends of the Red Cross New Year's Eve Ball at the Departmental Auditorium, 14th and Constitution Ave. NW. The theme is "Fractured Fairy Tales." Tickets are $100 to $2,500 (table of 10). It's for a good cause -- they hope to raise more than $100,000 for the Red Cross. 728-6482.
*On the other end of the New Year's Eve spectrum, you may stay safely at home and opt for a comfy, frumpy, no-frills evening on the couch, with plenty of your favorite junk foods and Andre champagne. On the tube: there's a New Year's Eve Jazz Celebration with Ethel Ennis, Joe Williams and others (11 p.m., Channel 32); and you can watch the ball drop at Times Square on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve which features the Motels, Tears for Fears and the Four Tops (11:30 p.m., Channel 7). Al Jarreau and Kermit the Frog co-anchor Happy New Year, America (11:30, Channel 9). And MTV has its own New Year's Eve Rock 'n' Roll Ball, with the Starship and the Hooters live (11:30, MTV).