Halloween is undeniably the greatest holiday. It combines the drinking of St. Patrick’s Day with the semi-nudity of Mardi Gras and the near-infinite candy of Easter. Plus, you’re not obligated to spend money on presents or hours driving, flying, cooking or praying, unlike more-popular holidays. And you can’t go to Thanksiving dinner dressed as Baberaham Lincoln.
There’s a ton of stuff going on this Halloween weekend; it seems like every bar and club is obligated to hold a costume party. We’ve sorted through them all and pulled out the most interesting Halloween happenings.
Thursday, Oct. 28
It’s never too early to start boozing while dressed as a unicorn. People in costume pay happy-hour prices (that is, deadly pumpkin margarita pitchers for $5) from noon until close at Cantina Dos Segundos in Northern Liberties, to a soundtrack provided by DJ Julian Grefe of Pink Skull. Sister joint Cantina Los Caballitos, down on Passyunk Avenue, will have a parallel party on the 31st. (Noon. Free. 931 N. Second St. cantinados segundos.com).
Philly Improv Theater is also starting the weekend early, with a cage match competition pitting vampires against werewolves. Audience members who make Stephenie Meyer references will be torn to pieces. (9:30pm. $10. Shubin Theatre, 407 Bainbridge St. phillyimprovtheater.com).
Friday, Oct. 29
If you’re over Eastern State but still looking to be creeped out, check out Kaidan Insuto, a interactive performance installation based on Japanese ghost stories and “in the vein of a haunted house” that’s up through Nov. 6 in Kensington’s thefidget space. (7pm, 8:30pm and 10pm. $15-$20. 1714 N. Mascher St. andreadysetgo.com)
There are a couple of opportunities if you’ve got a flapper dress in your closet—early on, go Gatsby at the Art Museum’s Art After 5 live music series, which morphs into a Jazz Age Masquerade (5pm. Free with membership. $12-$16. 26th St. and Ben Franklin Pkwy. philamuseum.org). Grab something to eat from the Stephen Starr-catered museum cafeteria, then head over to continue the party late-night at World Cafe Live’s Black Cat Masquerade, which has old-timey music, Prohibition-era cocktails and pin-up burlesque. (10pm. $13. 3025 Walnut St. world cafelive.com)
The already debauched Swellco & Swellco, auteurs of an insane, obscene variety show, have embraced the slutty side of the holiday with a petting zoo of furries, a John Holmes impersonator, destruction of a life-size Glenn Beck pinata, go-go dancers and a $100 sex-shop gift certificate for most inappropriate costume. The party’s at a secret location in Old City, where the music will be metal and the Bukkake Mimes Experimental Dance Troupe will be ... performing experimental dance? Check their site closer to the date for location and password. ($6 in costume, $12 not, $3 nude or furry. swellco2000.com)
You can break out your most obscure nerd-reference costume ideas at the Indy Hall/Geekadelphia party Indyween 4.0, upstairs at Tattooed Mom’s—you’ll likely be in the company of other Cylons, Dr. Horribles and Dark Phoenixes. This is the one place where dressing as Herbert West from Re-Animator might get you not just recognized, but laid. (8pm. Free. 530 South St. geekadelphia.com)
Saturday, Oct. 30
You’ll have to stab someone to get tickets to Exhumed Films’ 24-hour Horror-thon (it’s been sold out for months), but the concurrent art exhibit Video Violence is worth checking out even if you can’t get past the lobby. Various artists pay tribute to the bygone days of VHS with creative defacements of favorite tapes of horror movies. (11am. $25. I-House, 3701 Chestnut St. exhumedfilms.com)
The Mutter Museum’s got all the sugar skulls and, uh, real skulls you could want at their early Dia de los Muertos festival. There’s also traditional Mexican music and food, and artist Joanna Ebenstein will give a talk titled Anatomical Venuses , The Slashed Beauty , and Fetuses Dancing a Jig. (10am. $10-$14. 19 S. 22nd St. collphyphil.org)
If you didn’t want the Fringe/Live Arts Festival to end, check out the Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret, where Obie- and Barrymore-winners and Pew Fellows go to let their hair down. In addition to the usual collection of overqualified, dragged-up stage actors barely recognizable from some of the best Fringe productions this year, there’ll be guest singers like Erik Ransom, star of the recent drag production of Carrie, he’ll be singing about the prom. (9pm. $12-$20. MarBar, 40th and Walnut sts. marbarphilly.com)
Sunday, Oct. 31
The grandest name in Philly when it comes to Halloween is always the Henri David Ball, the most-anticipated party of the year in the Gayborhood. Rooted in drag tradition but open to all (even those under 21), the ball is generally host to the most spectacular and elaborate costumes in the city, and there’s a parade and contest at midnight. (9pm. $25 in costume, $75 not. Sheraton Ballroom, 17th and Race sts. 215.732.7711).
And if Henri David just isn’t drag enough, the Liberty City Kings, hosts of Mr. Philly Drag King and various queer/kinky cabarets, are having their fourth anniversary party, with a tassel-twirling contest and performances by some of the Kings themselves. (8pm. $10 in costume, $12 not. Tritone, 1508 South St. tritonebar.com)
Sundae is transforming Silk City into Merlotte’s/Fangtasia for their True Blood-themed FangBanger’s Ball; get your tickets beforehand. (7pm. $5 in costume, $10 not. 435 Spring Garden St. fangbangersball.eventbrite.com)
Lastly, there’s nothing scarier than someone getting up to do “In Your Eyes” at karaoke, and Philly singer-songwriter Matt Duke channels that into an in-character, in-costume performance of the entirety of Peter Gabriel’s 1986 album So at World Cafe Live. (6pm. $14-$21. worldcafelive.com)
Drinking at Monk's—for the Children!
BYO Vinyl at Prohibition Taproom
A Good-Time South Philly Bar