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Wednesday, January 28, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 21.0° F  A Few Clouds
The Daily
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A Halloween bar crawl, King Street-style
A Madison Halloween scene fit for a queen

State Street, Schmate Street.

Such was many folks' response to the prevailing Halloween zeitgeist and its advertising campaign for the city's Halloween fest, and so they set out to make their own celebration.

My moral code has been deemed, er, flexible in the past, but there are a few principles on which I stand firm; no budging in long lines, for example, and no paying to stand in a public space. So when I heard that Freakfest was charging admission for the second year in a row I knew I'd have to find alternate plans.

Thanks to HalloQueen, the first all-ages indie queer event at the Majestic, and the King Club's Halloween Spooktacular, it was possible for people besides out-of-towners and undergraduate-types to have fun over the holiday weekend. So I donned my Annie Hall ensemble and grabbed a few friends to check out the King Street scene's answer to Madison's Halloween madness.

Here's the timeline:

  • Majestic Theatre at 11:00 p.m.: We arrive fashionably on time at the very same moment a beautiful boy wearing a loincloth made of leaves steps outside to have a cigarette. I make eyes at him behind my '70s sunglasses but am stopped by the bouncer demanding an ID.

  • Majestic Theatre at 11:02 p.m.: I've accidentally become Paris Hilton, saying in my very best socialite voice, "I'm on the list!" while my new archnemesis calls his boss to get the okay to waive the cover charge. He's a bit of a sourpuss, but I suppose I would be too if everyone but me got to dance around half-naked while I sat on a bar stool.

  • Majestic Theatre at midnight: My friend Caitlyn (a..ka. David the Gnome) and I scamper up the stairs onstage to make nice with DJ Nick. "I'm having a great time, and last night was too," he says. I tell him he spins well and Caitlyn requests some Daft Punk. "I can probably do that," he agrees, "but I just play what feels right."

  • King Club at 12:40 a.m.: I'm in full-on party mode and don't want to miss a thing. This is the danger of party-hopping -- you're so eager to catch the best buzz that you're fissuring out energy like a hummingbird. I'm disappointed by the crowd here, particularly the turtle in a half-shell with the grumpy look on his face, as well as the music being played by a mediocre punk band that is dressed as either bees or bears. Plus, there are way too many bare-chested boys across the street that I still want to dance with.

  • Majestic Theatre at 1:00 a.m.: A much-needed cigarette break turns into a mini Polaroid photo shoot. A stranger asks if she can have her picture taken with me. I'm feeling generous and self-congratulatory, so I happily agree.

  • Majestic Theatre at 1:05 a.m.: The costume contest is on. I'm cheering for Pee Wee Herman, whose alter ego Stan cuts my little brother's hair, and the rest of the clan from Blues salon. Leaf-loincloth boy is dancing with a silver vibrator, and a trannie Hugh Hefner is receiving a very thorough lap dance. I don't even know who wins, and I don't think anyone cares. This alone is worth the price of admission.

  • Majestic Theatre at 1:45 a.m.: Last call, followed by a remix of a Blur song and some serious flashing lights. This is the hottest dance party I've ever been to in this town.

  • King Street at 1:55 a.m.: Over? What do you mean, over? A crowd gathers outside of the Majestic. Cries of "A-Bar! A-Bar!" cut through the heavy cigarette smoke. I get punchy with a Paul Bunyan whose faithful steed consists of a piece of blue paper with "ox" scrawled in marker until clanging cymbals from across the street break me from my reverie with this tall drink of water and remind me of my journalistic integrity.

  • King Club at 2:01 a.m.: The place is finally packed, thanks to the extra half-hour of bar time that has been granted. Onstage is Screamin' Cyn Cyn, whose costumes make a modicum of sense but whose music still, well, doesn't. My friend Ilsa hits the bathroom while Caitlyn and I bop our heads to that old-timey crowd favorite, "Sex at the Table." The combination of gritty shrieking and flying limbs in a confined area sends us ducking for cover down the street.

  • Great Dane at 2:10 a.m.: Sex on tables is quickly becoming a theme. Couples pair off as Bonnie Raitt's "Something to Talk About" blasts from the loudspeakers. I look, dumbfounded, at a blonde chick wearing assless chaps and have a fleeting urge to wrap her up in my coat. And then I realize that I went to high school with her, and that might be kind of awkward.

  • King Street at 2:20 a.m.: The crowd is finally breaking up as people decide on after-bar locales and call cabs to share home. I politely decline a party on Park Street and hitch a ride home with my roommate. Traffic is brutal all around the Square, and there are several naughty nurses on the street that look like they could use some medical attention themselves.

I'm back at home by 2:35 a.m. Nothing says after-party like lemon tea and a cuddle with the cats. I stick my Polaroids -- perhaps the best party favor science has ever given us -- on my mirror and give a quick prayer of thanks for the overall good-heartedness of the debauchery I encountered. Give me drag queens and hot dancers of ambiguous sexual orientation over belligerent frat boys any day.

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