Belkys Nerey is now the co-anchor of WSVN (Channel 7) News, following six years on Deco Drive.
My best New Year's Eve started out as my worst New Year's Eve. I had to work because of that whole Y2K drama. My crew and I ended up on a rooftop at a hotel on Ocean Drive. I had a couple of friends up there waiting for me to get off the air. We finally wrapped up our coverage at 1:00 a.m. I was exhausted but my friend (and then Bar Room owner) Ingrid Casares had invited me to a party at the club. My two friends and I walked into the space. There must have been no more than 50 people there, really cozy and intimate. There was a DJ but in addition, a trumpet player and a percussionist playing to the beat of the DJ's music. I look over and I see this woman dancing with a tambourine and everyone is in a circle standing around her, clapping and just egging her on to keep dancing. When she finishes the room erupts in applause, and the energy is just amazing. I look over and say to my friend, "Wow, what a cool idea to hire a dancer to get the crowd going." My friend looks up at me and says, "It's Madonna." Need I say more.
Automatic Slim: Automatic Slim is the place where the beautiful people get ugly. Theyll get real ugly on New Years Eve, when the joint offers a $50 all-you-can-drink special. 1216 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, 305-695-0795.
Bermuda Bar & Grill: One of the longest-running dance parties is getting ready for another New Years bash. This party features complimentary drinks till 2 a.m. Also included is a champagne toast at midnight for the big balloon drop. Then show off your moves until 6 a.m., when its time to go home. Arrive before midnight and pay a $25 cover charge. 3509 NE 163rd St, North Miami Beach, 305-945-0196.
Big Fish: Party the year away on the banks of a cleaner Miami River (supposedly) at Big Fish. Live music and DJs will keep the rumps bouncing and maybe even swimming, but not in the river, we hope. 55 SW Miami Ave Rd, 305-373-1770.
Bongos Cuban Cafe: Theres nothing like a Cuban bash to ring in the New Year. The stylish Tropicana-style supper club will have the congas rocking. Bongos is offering dinner and dancing for $95 per person. 601 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, 786-777-2100.
Chamber Lounge: There is no cover at Chamber Lounge, so a memorable, as well as inexpensive, New Years awaits those intelligent enough to swing by. Who said South Beach isnt generous? Enjoy music by Sobe Souls David Solero, party favors, and a champagne toast, so tip well. 2940 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, 305-673-0388.
crobar: Crobar at the Cameo Theatre presents the Premier 2004 New Years bash. Red carpet rolls out at 9 p.m. General admission seats are $50, which includes a champagne reception at midnight and New Years party favors. Tickets are on sale at groovetickets.com. DJs include Cedric Gervais and Pedro in the main room, Stephan Luke and Juan Mejia in the VIP room, and Matt Martinez and Nelson Diaz in the ultra-VIP room (de pinga!). Tables are available starting at $150 a person and will need to be paid in advance. For table reservations call 305-672-8084. 1445 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, 305-531-5027.
Hooligans Pub & Oyster Bar: Looking for a fun party without spending wads of cash just to get through the door? Then drive on over to this pub. Not only is there no cover but you can help yourself to their buffet between 8 and 11 p.m. Party favors and a glass of bubbly are also included. Dance to the beats of Miamis top DJs until 5 a.m. If by that time youve had one too many, dont risk getting behind the wheel. Hooligans will give you a free ride home and a free tow for your car! 9555 S Dixie Hwy, 305-667-9673.
Hoy Como Ayer: This place is one of the best-kept secrets in Little Havana. Mark your calendars for an intimate evening of Latin fun with Albita and Mealena performing live. 2212 SW 8th St, 305-541-2631.