G.A.P.P. at James Street Gastropub.

James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy

December 31
9 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Forget “Auld Lang Syne,” New Year’s Eve finds many of us singing along to the Clash’s 1981 hit tune, “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” Face it, it’s a night that comes with a lot of baggage: is it worth the price of admission, what should I wear, do I want to fight the crowds, should I just make it a cozy night in, and so on.

If you’re looking to ring in 2015 with an authentic mix of local flavor and holiday cheer, we have a few smaller events to recommend.

Meet G.A.P.P., a new collective of 30-somethings determined to rewrite the book on New Year’s Eve, and enliven Pittsburgh’s nightlife scene one month at a time. Launched in September 2013 at Strip District-based Taverna 19, G.A.P.P. (read: GrownAss People Party) is marking its second annual New Year’s Eve edition at the James Street Gastropub on the Northside.

Party-goers will enjoy a night in the venue’s stylish ballroom, with excellent musical choices from top Pittsburgh DJs Selecta and Vex, a celebratory champagne toast at midnight, a late-night menu and premium drink specials. Last year’s NYE Eve bash sold out (ditto for their 2014 Halloween party), with more than 270 revelers, so don’t sleep on getting tickets in advance.

With a concept that seems quite simple on paper, but is perhaps more challenging to pull off IRL, G.A.P.P. has already created a buzz via its monthly word-of-mouth parties at distinct local venues around town. The concept draws a diverse and enthusiastic crowd, hosts welcoming parties that feel both cozy and hip and celebrates the look and feel of Pittsburgh’s independent venues and varied nightlife spots. For its very first party, G.A.P.P. hoped to draw around 60 people. When more than 120 people showed up, they knew they were onto something.

Taking the party on the road to a new location each month, the event hopes to fill the gap in the what the event’s founders feel is missing within Pittsburgh’s nightlight scene. Initially only advertised via select e-blasts and word-of-mouth, G.A.P.P.’s original “party manifesto” of sorts offered refreshing hints such as: “It will be at a cool bar, with great music and the potential for late night dancing. You will not know everyone in the room. It will not be a homogeneous crowd. You will not feel old-ish and weird. You will not be required to network. This party will feel like parties are supposed to feel.”

Conceived by Hilary Brown, the G.A.P.P. committee enjoys the support and contribution of several superstar Pittsburghers, and includes a flexible and evolving collective of active professionals and creatives. Within two months of creating their new Facebook page, G.A.P.P. already has 1,500-plus followers.

“It can be really hard to meet people as post-college adults in Pittsburgh, especially if you are coming from a more cosmopolitan city,” says Brown. “Other parties are homogeneous, and G.A.P.P. is really diverse in every way. It’s the kind of place where people who are new in town can actually meet other people and connect with them. Grown Ass is a state of mind.”

And it’s big on music. “We have really great DJs in this town and it is important for us to showcase them. James Street has a vintage style, with a stage and a dance floor, but it is still intimate and warm, with a classic party vibe. They love this crowd and it’s what they are looking for.”

Looking for more ideas for NYE? Lawrenceville and Bloomfield boast three events not to miss:

Head to Butler Street mecca Round Corner Cantina for “No Mames: New Year’s Eve,” featuring local DJs Pandemic Pete and Edgar Um who will be joined by NYC’s own Uproot Andy. In between dancing to global dance music sounds, enjoy free passed hors d’oeuvres from 7 to 10 p.m.

The VIA Music & New Media Festival hosts their own “2015 is real” NYE showcase at their new quasi-secret location (details here). The limited-capacity bash will feature back-to-back DJ sets and immersive video art by members of LazerCrunk, Detour, Obvious, Honcho and VIA.

If local live music is your ticket to a great party, head to nearby Howlers Coyote Cafe on Liberty Ave. for a feel-good NYE concert featuring Pittsburgh bands The Harlan Twins, The Lopez and Dream Phone. After the rock sets, get your 2015 groove on during a midnight dance party with DJs James Hart and Jules Krishnamurti who will spin deep cuts of 1960s soul.


Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.