NEW YEAR'S EVE / All about Eve: Where's the crack? Mark Timmis takes you on a happening tour of the UK's most vibrant club nights and parties

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The Independent Culture
New Year's Eve. On the night when even the most retiring flatfoot gives it up on a packed dancefloor, innumerable hordes of clubbers will be descending upon their favourite night-time haunts. With such numbers, often counted through the door at pounds 25 per head or more, tonight is the promoter's big payday. But at such inflated prices, the punter cannot always be guaranteed good value. There follows a spot check of the most cracking club nights around the country this New Year's Eve.

Starting in Edinburgh, the lads from Rezerection are holding a fancy-dress Scotch Hogmanay Carousel. They have developed a loyal contingent who regularly ram their bi-monthly parties for many thousands. Situated in the Royal Highland Centre, the usual eclectic mix of jugglers, stilt walkers and street artists will be joined by a 12-strong band of bagpipers for a midnight melee. Carl Cox, Seduction and SS set the tone.

Across the border, a flamboyant night is held in store at Rockshots, Newcastle. Hi-N-RG and dance classics will keep the gay members and their guests rocking to closing time. Additional thrills include an indoor firework display at one second past midnight.

After a full year of banging garage and hard house, you may feel in need of some soulful restitution. Staying in Newcastle, the underground buzz of the last half of 1993 has been World Headquarters. Playing soul, funk and jazz, the New Year's Eve party promises to be the best so far. Although Norman Jay has graced these wheels of steel, the backlash against top-name DJs starts here. This does not seem to have diminished its popularity, for the door policy is strict. 'Friends, people we know, and people we know who know people we know,' explains Tommy, one of the promoting brothers. A drug-free zone, you won't score, but you may tap.

Nipping cross-country, the Hacienda in Manchester became the most famous club in the Eighties. Roger Sanchez plays the main room while Jose from Cafe del Mar dives into the Gay Traitor underneath. At pounds 30 a head, you should expect a few extras: a Russian circus act performing for a full five hours and a loud digital countdown to midnight followed by an extensive indoor firework show. Also in Manchester, the Flesh crew go straight with their Home party.

Renaissance moves from Derby to a magnificent stately home - Colwick Hall - next to the racecourse in Nottingham. Billed as a 'masquerade ball', you'll receive a traditional-style mask on entry. A full buffet is provided and there is the option to welcome 1994 with a champagne breakfast. A unique location - used only for two relatively unsuccessful hardcore events - with a unique line-up of Sasha and Masters at Work.

And so to the capital. The sheer quality of clubs that have developed in other cities has put paid to the idea that London is Clubland. Still, Club for Life always guarantees a clean night out. The theme will be soap operas with decor and dressing to match. DJ Jeremy Healey is threatening not to stop: 'I'll have to cut his arms off to get him away from those dex,' cries Shelley, the promoter.

Leaving the metropolis a long way behind, one of the freshest nights in the country is Naughty But Nice. Its location in Hereford has proved to be a blessing, rather than a hindrance, as it retains the vibrancy and vitality lacking in many other places. The Luv Dup twins provide their own brand of happy house and humour. Details of the after-hours, private party have yet to be announced, but it won't disappoint. Only a cheap taxi journey from the club, this is one you should not miss.

Rezerection, Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, Edinburgh (info 031-281 4845); 8pm-8am, pounds 29.50 in advance

Rockshots, Waterloo St, Newcastle (091- 232 9648); 9pm-3am, pounds 5

World Headquarters, 9 Marlborough Crescent, Newcastle (091-281 3445); 10.30pm-2am, pounds 7.50 advance, pounds 10 door

Hacienda, 11-13 Whitworth St, Manchester (061-236 5051); 9pm-4am, pounds 30 in advance

Home, Ducie House, Ducie St, Manchester (061-237 9460); pounds 20 in advance

Renaissance Masquerade Ball, Colwick Hall, Colwick Park, Nottingham (0782 714224); 9pm-very late, pounds 32 in advance

Club For Life, Gardening Club, Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2 (071-497 3154); 10pm-6am, pounds 25 in advance

Naughty But Nice, 13 Bridge St, Hereford (0432 267378); 9pm-very late, pounds 8.50 advance, pounds 10 door

Mark Timmis is publisher of the 'Cockspur Club Guide'. Additional reporting by Wayne McDonald of 'The Crack'

(Photograph omitted)