02 November 2005

The 3 days of Hallowseen

The notice was occult. Not everyone knew that Halloween had become a three-day holiday weekend. Friday dusk, random ghouls plied (and plagued) the streets and alleys in the North, Damen and Milwaukee environs. Such as the man dressed as Satan, or perhaps only a minion of the Dark Master, who'd face-painted cadmium red all the way up his receding hairline and down to a pinched black goatee, spooky beady blue eyes agleam, turned away at a tavern door for having an expired ID. Saturday night, then, was the ninth annual incarnation of a floating Greater Wickertown-Liquor Park music-mayhem-hipoisie costume party, the past decade's twentysomethings approaching thirty incognito. The address texted to my friend looked wrong, not darkness on the edge of town but pretty much ground zero. Once upon a while ago, this party raged all night on an isolated North Clybourn loft. But, oh-ho and lo, on the residential sidewalk, ghosts and motley species have adjourned to smoke. Three tiny ninjas, hardly five feet tall, crossed swords strapped to backs, troop down the front steps. "$5--Five dollars to get into this party" is tacked to the three-flat's door, the promise of five, count `em, five, kegs to draw from while loud music pours. Dancing persists for the next four hours. White fishnets on full pale calves glow. The crowd is impossible, and so, too, the keg center of the black-and-white-tiled kitchen floor: it never empties. Superman has skinny legs. Santa wears a codpiece. Fake fur rules. Spandex does not flatter. "Chuck Wagon," a woman's bottom reads. The unlikely couple of Richie Tenenbaum and Annie Hall swap the Coolpix repeatedly. "You know me," another ninja says, revealing a single kohled eye from her black head-swathes. "No, I'm an assassin," she says, brandishing the small rifle that had been sheathed at her back. "Haschishin," she whispers the Arabic word. A MySpace profile arrives: "Cute Girl 2010." Blog entry: "OMG! We were sooooo drunk!" "Cute Girl 2010 has 4,375,608 friends," including "Tom" and "Your Worst Nightmare." "No more cowbell" is the refrain to the man with the cowbell. That may be Sapphic snogging over there, or the boys get prettier all the time. Two cops, bulky bulletproof vests sidle in. A beanpole "Harry Potter" Hermione approaches the young cop, wide lipsticked smile: "You put a lot of work into that costume." "I did. Yes, I did," he says, a level stare and a slight smile. "Now who lives here?" [Published in a slightly different form in Newcity, 3 November 2005]