Sometimes it feels like you can't celebrate New Year's Eve in Los Angeles without a second mortgage or a maxed-out credit card. But contrary to popular belief, not every event happening this Dec. 31 will set you back a car payment. Here are 10 affordable ($40 or less) options for starting 2016 somewhere other than on your couch.
Grand Park + The Music Center's N.Y.E.L.A. (free)
For the third year, the Music Center will throw a massive — and free! — New Year's Eve celebration spanning 90 acres of downtown real estate, from the Music Center Plaza at Grand Avenue and First Street all the way down Grand Park to City Hall. There will be live music and DJs on three stages, including Afro-Latin combo Quitapenas, electro-pop siren Gavin Turek and KCRW's Chris Douridas, as well as food vendors and art installations by the Do Art Foundation among others. As always, the highlight will be the mind-boggling animated projections of Garson Yu, which will dance across the facades of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Hall of Records and City Hall, culminating in 3-D midnight countdown projections. Grand Park between Hope and Main streets, downtown, 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., musiccenter.org/nyela.
Noire’s Eve Part Deux ($10)
If your tastes run a little darker than the usual NYE party soundtrack, head to Complex in Glendale for an evening of dark electronica, goth, industrial, shoegaze and dark '80s, all played on one of the best sound systems in town. DJs Black Eyed, Doomie, Gabe Reanimator and Franck H-Bomb will provide the soundtrack, and Das Baker (if you get the name pun, these really are your people) will provide the vegan pastries at midnight to accompany your complimentary glass of champagne. No matter how goth you are, all this for only 10 bucks should be enough to put a smile on your face. Complex, 806 E. Colorado St., Glendale, 9 p.m., complexla.com.
Dance Yourself Clean ($12.50-$22.50)
The Satellite's popular indie dance night moves into bigger digs for New Year's Eve, transferring to the Regent Theater downtown but otherwise promising to keep the unpretentious vibe and eclectic playlist (think LCD Soundsystem, Miike Snow, Purity Ring, Chromeo) intact. They are raising the price, but only slightly; instead of the usual 5 bones, a night at DYC NYE will set you back anywhere from $12.50 to $22.50, depending on how far in advance you buy tickets. Special guests are promised, too. Who, you ask? You won't know unless you go. The Regent Theater, 448 S. Main St., downtown, 8 p.m., danceyourselfclean.com.
The Aggrolites at Alex’s Bar ($20-$25)
Two SoCal institutions come together for what is sure to be one of the most laid-back, feel-good New Year's celebrations in the Greater L.A. area, as beloved Long Beach punk club Alex's Bar (which just celebrated its 15th anniversary) welcomes in veteran reggae act The Aggrolites. The L.A.-based band, who have been around nearly as long as Alex's Bar, describe their sound as “dirty reggae,” a mix of Jamaican influences, from ska to rocksteady, with punk, soul and funk. Sounds like a good soundtrack for kissing 2015 goodbye. Alex's Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, 9 p.m., alexsbar.com.
West Coast Soul Events Presents NYE 2016 with David Harness ($20-$25)
If you're a house head who prefers underground vibes to velvet ropes and bottle service, King King (which is, sadly, soon to close) is the only reason to brave the Hollywood NYE clusterfuck. The intimate club will ring in 2016 with a headlining set by San Francisco deep house veteran David Harness, of Taboo and Club Universe fame, who is sure to keep the vibe smooth and soulful. Fellow house spinners Tony Powell and Lacey I.Q. provide support. King King, 6555 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 10 p.m., kingkinghollywood.com.
Downtown Long Beach New Year's Eve Block Party ($30-$40)
Every year on Dec. 31, Long Beach closes down a stretch of Pine Avenue so its fair citizens can go bananas. Last year, Fitz & the Tantrums headlined the festivities; this year's block party looks to be even more raucous, with sets by pop-rockers Saint Motel, bluesy songstress ZZ Ward, Americana quartet Houndmouth and retro-soul stirrers Vintage Trouble, plus a DJ set by OK Go's Dan Konopka and Tim Nordwind, a special appearance by the ever-funky Miles Tackett of Breakestra, and more. In past years, tickets have been available at the gate, but with last year's attendance topping 13,000, they expect this year's event to sell out — so get your tickets early, especially to take advantage of the $10 off “early bird” price. Pine Avenue between First and Fourth streets, Long Beach, 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., downtownlongbeach.org.
143 New Year’s Eve ($25)
Promising a mix of “slow jams, love songs [and] bed squeaks,” 143 is a popular R&B DJ night that moved earlier this year from Cypress Park dive Footsie's into the only slightly fancier confines of Los Globos. This dress-code-free New Year's Eve night should provide a low-key, unpretentious setting for champagne and slow-dancing with that special someone — or practicing your “Hotline Bling” moves because you DGAF. Los Globos, 3040 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, 9 p.m., clublosglobos.com.
Paint the Night Red at the Library ($35 earlybird general admission)
On New Year's Eve, most rooftop bars charge a small fortune before you've ordered your first drink. But at as little as $35 a head, the Library bar at the Redbury Hollywood is a relative bargain. General admission gets you into the indoor/outdoor bar, where you can savor a craft cocktail and views of Hollywood and Vine while you listen to DJs and order up menu items from Cleo, the hotel's Middle Eastern–themed restaurant. Even if you and your crew decide to spring for a bottle service package, it still works out to around $100 per person — a downright steal compared to what you'd pay at most Hollywood hot spots. The Redbury Hollywood, 1717 Vine St., Hollywood, 9 p.m to 2 a.m., sbe.com/exclusives/paint-the-night-red.
La Sonora Dinamita at the Conga Room ($35 general admission)
L.A. Live's swankiest nightspot welcomes one of the world's premiere cumbia groups, La Sonora Dinamita, for a hip-shaking NYE blowout. Formed in Colombia in the 1960s, La Sonora Dinamita is credited with helping turn cumbia into a worldwide phenomenon, and to this day, their massive ensemble features some of their country's best singers, brass players and percussionists. DJs Eddie One and Erik Mota, along with resident DJs Dewap and Doughboy, will also be on hand to spin the latest house, pop, hip-hop and Latin sounds. The baseline $35 general admission ticket only gets you standing-room access — but when the rhythms are this hot, why would you want to sit down? Conga Room, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown, 9 p.m., www.congaroom.com.
Dick Dale at the Whisky a Go Go ($40)
At 78, surf guitar godfather Dick Dale can still shred on his instrument with more speed and skill than 99 percent of players half his age. Ride the wave of classic tracks like “Miserlou” and “Pipeline” into 2016 with a true L.A. legend, at the most historic Sunset Strip rock club still standing. Whisky a Go Go, 8901 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 8 p.m., whiskyagogo.com.