Back when women were dames and men were gents, people knew how to do New Year's Eve right. Watch the black and white movies, and you'll see what I mean: women in circle skirts poofy with crinoline, men in tuxedos with cummerbunds and matching bow ties, flutes of champagne, a big band seated in rows behind music stands bearing the band's insignia. A man with a deep, smooth voice and wavy, slicked-down hair would step to a mike and sing about the kind of love you only feel while wearing kitten heels and Cuban stockings. I long for the nights I've only seen in movies.
Ricki Derek does, too--only he does something about it. He performs--musically with the Vegas Six and theatrically with the Night OH! Cabaret--in shows that mix old-school elegance and charm with a modern sensibility and ironic retrospective. This year--and for years to come, he hopes--he'll do New Year's Eve right with New Year's Ring-A-Ding with Ricki Derek at the Lakewood Theater. Doors will open at 9 p.m., and from 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. the show will go on. The cast from Night OH! Cabaret, plus some special guests, will perform a vaudeville-style variety show with acts ranging from Sheckie Birgman (a Tony Clifton-esque comedian) to Olaf the Flamboyant (Siegfried and Roy) to Fanny Viva La Hoola (she performs with 30-something Hula Hoops...and a poodle). There's also a knife juggler and fire-eater. Between each act there will be fake commercials airing on the theater's big screen, and Derek will serve as the show's Ed Sullivan as well as doing his own acts and joining contributor Nick Gibbons of the Upright Citizens Brigade. Just before midnight, Derek and the Vegas Six will take the stage (with Mikey Dino providing the Dean Martin counterpart to Derek's Sinatra) to do a traditional New Year's Eve countdown with a balloon drop and a champagne toast. Then the band will perform as long as there are dancers to fill the floor in front of the stage. "Nobody's doing anything like this in Dallas," he says. "Maybe they shouldn't. I guess we'll see."