It's not quite black tie, but the SFNYE Superior Bash is getting warmer: Expect to find at least two dozen zoot suits in the crowd, since swingers should be turning out in droves to see the Brian Setzer Orchestra welcome 1999. Sharing headlining honors with Setzer is orchestral soul guru Isaac Hayes -- the old folks know him as the first man to win an Academy Award for a funk movie soundtrack (that would be Shaft), and the kids have heard him as Chef, the velvety voice of wisdom from the animated series South Park. Between acts, partygoers can visit themed rooms, shaking some tail feather at the '70s disco the Leopard Lounge and catching a snog in the Eye-Spy Make-Out Room. DJs and local bands will also play, and multiple bars will keep everyone well-lubricated. The bash begins at 7 p.m. at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove (at Larkin), S.F. Admission is $55; call (510) 762-2277.
Year-end comic relief, outside of clown acts and Setzer, includes the politically minded satire of the Will Durst & Co. Big-Fat Year-End Kiss-Off Comedy Tour, wherein Durst and stand-up Johnny Steele skewer 1998 with the help of musician Andy Valver, who summarizes events in "That Damn Song," and Deb and Mike, who recap movies, TV shows, and celebrity doings with improv skits. Shows begin at 7:30 and 10 p.m. at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $20-35; call 441-3687. The comedy show at Josie's, meanwhile, leans toward bittersweet, as drag chanteuse Varla Jean Merman and Forbidden Broadway's Kristine Zbornik bid the club adieu with one of its last shows ever: Varla and Her Only Friend/Greatest Hits, a night of music, bits, and banter. The show runs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Josie's Juice Joint and Cabaret, 3583 16th St. (at Market), S.F. Admission is $25-46; call 861-7933.
And that leaves the people looking for a classy joint. The city has plenty -- the Fairmont hosts A Night in Brazil, the Holiday Inn features the New Year's Eve Latin Ball, and the SF Symphony presents A Night in Old Vienna. For a complete list of New Year's Eve events, see the Holiday Guide on Page 28.
-- Heather Wisner