In flocking together (12.31)

The end of a year in dance closes with the fifth annual Carolina Friends School Alumni Concert, a benefit for the Kaia Parker Fund, the regional philanthropy that supports developing dancers and choreographers. Why does this return-of-the-native recital pack a lot more punch than the usual reunion gig? Because veteran teacher Annie Dwyer’s students keep winding up in major dance companies: Jessica Harris (Shen Wei), Rosita Adamo (Alvin Ailey), Tommy Noonan (Adrienne Celeste Fadjo) and others bring it all back home in a joyous, informal celebration danced to live jazz. It’s the most exuberant way you can spend the afternoon of Dec. 31. Show starts at 4 p.m. at the school, 4809 Friends School Road, just outside Durham. Call 383-6602 for details. Byron WoodsIn secular to sacred (12.29)

“You went to church in your party dress,” yelped Jason Ringenberg backed by the Nashville Scorchers in the early ’80s. It was as succinct and brilliant a summation of the sinner/saint dichotomy as has been presented in song, depicting the tension, as is often the case, between Saturday night and Sunday morning terms. Of course, country-punk isn’t the only form of music to confront this contrast. In fact, probably more than all others, the blues world is the scene of a performer taking a Saturday night into Sunday morning with songs of doing wrong and being done wrong, only to make it to church a mere few hours later for the hymnal. Drink House to Church House, a CD-DVD set released by Music Maker Relief Foundation, might not hit squarely on the idea, but the theme will at least be present as Music Maker artists such as Captain Luke, Macavine Hayes and others discuss and share songs from both the secular and sacred musical traditions in the documentary and then onstage Friday, Dec. 29 at Local 506. The film starts at 8 p.m. and will be followed by performances at 9:30. Tickets are $8. Rick CornellIn raising toasts (12.27 and 12.30)

Every culture offers complexities in the enjoyment of beverages. At The Carolina Inn you can learn how to expertly maneuver the champagne challenges of the season. New Year’s Champagne 101 begins at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 27 and costs $49. On Saturday, Dec. 30, learn about drinking the Chinese way. ORiEnTspiration will host a free Chinese Tea Tasting Party from 1-3 p.m. A new tea will be presented every half-hour according to the rituals of the Chinese tea ceremony. ORiEnTspiration is located at 10940 Raven Ridge Road, Suite 122 in Raleigh. For more information, visit and Megan SteinIn auld lang syne (12.31)

There is no reason to stay at home this New Year’s Eve, because there is something for everyone to do. If you want to dance into the New Year, come party at the Carolina Dance Club’s Black and White Ball. Partygoers will enjoy swing, Latin and ballroom dancing at Temple Beth-Or Congregational Hall, 5315 Creedmoor Road in Raleigh. (8:30 p.m., lessons at 7:30, $15, 888-21SWING.) If ballroom dancing doesn’t cut it, the Carolina Brewery in Chapel Hill is where you can go for live music, drink specials, party favors and food buffets. (8:30 p.m., $25, 942-1800.) If you want live music but would prefer to enjoy it from the comfort of a seat and not on your feet, go to The Grape at Cameron Village in Raleigh where jazz lovers can enjoy the Steve Hobbs Quartet. The cost is $50 plus gratuity, which includes a food buffet and two glasses of wine. ( or call 833-2669.) Also, Yancy’s, at 319 Fayetteville St. in Raleigh, is featuring Mel Melton and the Wicked MoJos. The seating at 5:30 p.m. is $50 and the seating at 9 p.m. is $75. (821-7171.) The United Church of Chapel Hill is hosting a benefit concert featuring the Bradshaw Quartet and Christen Campbell at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary. (Donation, 942-3540.) Grant Llewellyn and the N.C. Symphony are hosting a concert and gala at 7:30 p.m. in the Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh. $225 includes pre-concert reception, post-concert dinner, and dancing at the Sheraton Capital Center. ( For a nontraditional time, head to A New Year, A New Life for music, dance and meditation through super-soul yoga with John Richardson. The doors of the Unity Center of Peace Church in Chapel Hill will open at 7 p.m. ($25, 644-0825.) And finally, Dec. 31 is Kuumba (Creativity), the last night of Kwanzaa, which the Hayti Heritage Center is celebrating with a free performance by 100 Men in Black. (7:30 pm, 804 Old Fayetteville St., Durham. 683-1709.) And don’t forget to embrace the New Year with Chuck Davis and the African American Dance Ensemble the following afternoon at the Durham Armory, 220 Foster St. (683-1709.) Iesha BrownIn acorn drops (12.31)

This year’s First Night in Downtown Raleigh promises to be a bundle o’ New Year’s Eve fun. Events begin at 3 p.m. on Dec. 31 with the Children’s Celebration, which goes until 6 p.m. Children Celebration events are spread across the n.c. Museum of History, the N.C. Museum of Science and Bicentennial Plaza, and include magicians, pirate performances, temporary henna tattoos and puppets. Admission is free for children under 5. First Night activities start at 6 p.m. on the State Capital Grounds with the People’s Procession. Performances and activities, including ballroom dancing, the African American Dance Ensemble, ice sculptures, comedy performances and a magician culminate at midnight with a fireworks finale and the dropping of the acorn in Moore Square. Admission buttons are available for $9 online or at several stores in and around Raleigh until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 30. On Dec. 31, admission buttons are $12 for adults and $10 for kids ages 6-12. For more information, visit Megan Stein