Since the municipal powers that be in Madison have decreed that Halloween shall be celebrated on November 1 rather than the night on which the holiday actually falls, many people are seeking out more ways to celebrate. Some are attending parties thrown by friends or bars around town, and some might even fall a day early into the traditional antagonistic cat-and-mouse roles of drunken mobs met by riot cops on State Street. There's far more costumed fun to be had this weekend, though.
If you're looking for options outside of the infamous State Street spectacle and downtown's overwhelmingly hetero top 40 bar scene, consider the second annual Halloqueen costume ball by Indie Queer Madison at the Majestic Theatre. Scheduled to host the party is he fabulous drag duo Ginger Devils, or Miss Ginger Devine and Devine Deville, the alter egos of Chris Daniels and Jake Aebly, respectively. I was lucky enough to speak with the bubbly and charming Daniels in the midst of his preparations for the big night.
Partygoers should be prepared for a refreshing selection of music as Nick Nice and TIZZY (visiting from Brooklyn) will keep the costumed and gender-bent crowd moving by spinning the best underground dance tracks to be found. An added bonus to glamour is that the entire night will feature "several high energy drag performances" by many local performers. Daniels informed me that this year's lineup includes a surprise guest performance by Madison's talented male impersonators the Mad Kings, and he continued, "the performances for the night will hopefully be a good mixture of classic Halloween favorites with some recent hits."
On a serious note, Daniels also emphasized the importance of providing an option designated for Madison's hip LGBT scene, saying the dance party is a "safe alternative space for queers on Halloween night." This is certainly true as Indie Queer was built on a welcoming and all-inclusive reputation, inviting all fun-loving people to get together free of judgment based on sexual preference or gender identity. And though the "straights" have invaded somewhat since IQ's inception, this dance party movement has remained true to its original intention: creating a happening dance environment for those who may not want to fit in anywhere else.
Though Daniels was reluctant to give up too much information on the choreographed grand finale, he did allow a few details to slip. "We have sixteen performers in the final number," he boasts, and then coyly suggests, "all I'm saying is there might be a dance-off." Halloqueen certainly has the potential to be the most spectacular dance party of the year.
Halloqueen starts at 9 p.m. on Friday, October 31, and is open to those under 21 for $15, and 21 and up for $10. Tickets can be purchased at the Majestic and A Room of One's Own. Don't forget to dress up!
It's essentially impossible to note all of the Halloween opportunities to be found around Madison on Friday, and because the party isn't just one night, Saturday, November 1 offers even more wealth of entertainment options that extend beyond Freakfest on State Street, and the simultaneous and free rogue celebrations on Mifflin. Here are a few that can be found around downtown.
Friday, October 31: Halloween
Condoms & Candy
Bone up (sorry!) on your knowledge of safer sex with the UW campus group Sex Out Loud, which will be passing out condoms, candy and important sexual health information at Library Mall from 10:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. They are also hosting a costume contest and a "scary erotica" story contest. You know you're curious about that.
For some exercise and a little spooky social activism before the evening's events kick off, you can ride your bicycle to take back the streets in the October edition of Critical Mass, which fortunately happens to fall on Halloween. Participants are encouraged to wear costumes and dress up their bicycles. The group meets at 5:30 p.m. at West Washington Avenue on the Capitol Square, and begins the ride at 6:00 p.m. sharp. You're also welcome to join in if you see them riding somewhere on the street. They'll be difficult to miss, and if you're on a bike, they'll most likely holler at you to join them.
Of course, the biggest event on Friday is the Atmosphere concert at the Orpheum Theatre, where the Twin Cities independent hip-hop legend Atmosphere will be performing on its Paint the Nation tour with DJ Rare Groove, Blueprint, and Abstract Rude. Tickets are $25, but if you aren't already making plans to get in line, I'll have to assume you're not a fan, or have been abroad and incommunicado for at least a couple of months now.
Under the cover of costumes, five Madison bands will be playing the hits of six immortal rock groups all night at the High Noon Saloon. The Gomers will be performing a repertoire of Spinal Tap, Tangy will be channeling Oasis and The Stone Roses under the guise of Manchester United, Apparently Nothing is dressing up as Nirvana, The Shabelles will do their best to mimic the sounds of Weezer, and the Low Czars have dressed up their sound as The Kinks. The 21+ show starts at 8:30 p.m. for $8, but bring a canned good to get your cover reduced to $6.
Margot & the Nuclear So & So's
If the soothing ambiance of chamber pop is your bag, check out a free (!) performance at 9 p.m. in the UW Memorial Union by an octet inspired to name itself after the Wes Anderson classic The Royal Tennenbaums. Will a false finger be found among any of the costumes?
Prog, Poetry, and Magic
Madison's liquor-licensed living room known as Mickey's Tavern is hosting an eclectic variety show replete with tunes, spoken word, and magic. The beat freak poetry-and-music blending trio Venice Gas House Trolley is headlining, and will be joined at the Willy Street bar by the prog improve group Arp of the Covenant and magician James Grainger. A mash-up of live performances, a light show, live black-light painting, and the obligatory costume contest will send this party over the top. The fun starts at 9 p.m., and its all free!
The Lucas Cates Band and Steez play a Halloween extravaganza at the Brink Lounge, the party again complete with a costume contest. The show begins at 9 p.m., and $5 gets you in the door.
Heavenly Halloween Dance
"Spend the night in disco heaven!" That's the exhortation made by the angelic disco cover band V05, which is playing at The Frequency. Dress up and get two dollars off the $7 cover, with music starting at 9 p.m., and the costume contest at midnight.
Too cool for a costume? Then don your tightest pants and snottiest attitude for a party at Café Montmartre, where there's a free tasting of Death's Door Spirits, and The Acorn will play with The Shaky Hands and Obijou. The 21+ show is at 9:30 p.m., and a cool $10 gets you in.
Junk in a squash
For something a bit more on the posh and provocative sides, check out Dick 'n the Pumpkins at Restaurant Magnus. Richard Slayton and his pumpkins take the stage at 9:30 p.m., with no cover to get in the bar.
If you feel like something a little tacky (in the best way possible), fire up a coal at the Mediterranean Hookah Lounge & Café at 77 Sirloin Strip just off the Beltline and Badger Road. I recommend the lemon and mint shisha blended with mango. A riotous costume contest starts at 10 p.m., but the mixed crowd at this unique bar perched atop a hill and within a trailer park should provide enough entertainment to encourage you to come early and stay late.
Saturday, November 1: All Saints Day and Diá de los Muertos
Night of the Dead
For the second consecutive year, Baghdad Scuba Review will mark the Day of the Dead with a concert celebrating the legacy of The Grateful Dead. This show at the Majestic Theatre will also feature Bu.R.P. and The Grasshoppers, and promises to be political with the impending election. The music starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $10 in advance, and $12 day of show. Make sure to dress up!
Maximum Ink Halloween Spooktacular
This annual bash put on by the music magazine Maximum Ink provides an extremely viable escape from State Street with a party at The Annex. Not only is entry to the club free, but so is the Ale Asylum Hopalicious (while it lasts), munchies, popcorn, indie horror flicks, and of course, the tunes. Luna Mortis, Birth of Tragedy, Guido's Racecar, Axiom, and Triibe will rock out, with festivities beginning at 8:30 p.m., followed by a visit by the Jagermeister girls at 10 p.m. There's also a Star Wars-themed costume contest, complete with mock lightsaber duels.
The beloved Pupy Costello & His Big City Honky Tonk are taking on winter and Wall Street with its booze-soaked arsenal of classic and new tunes at the Crystal Corner Bar. The show's at 10 p.m., the cover's $8, and costumes are a no-brainer.
Need I even mention this? O.A.R. headlines on the main stage at the Capitol, along with The Hard Lessons, Donovan Frankenreiter, Thriving Ivory, and The Dollyrots, while local faves Natty Nation, Awesome Car Funmaker, The Box Social, Blueheels, and Mighty Short Bus anchor the party on Gilman Street. The Halloween-appropriate movies Beetlejuice, Psycho are screening, and there's also the obligatory midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Tickets for the city-sponsored and -approved extravaganza are $7 in advance and $10 at the gates.