Halloween in Derby City is a Spooktacular collision of copious bourbon specials, costume balls, some philanthropy and all-out debauchery. There’s so much bloody, gruesome, boozy action happening all over town that it’s tough to decide where we’ll spend All Hallows Eve. Some folks are already in the spooky spirit (have you tried Limbo Tiki Bar’s seasonal menu, complete with syringe shots of Stolen Rum “blood” and a Dracula martini?), while others are busy gearing up for this coming weekend and Wednesday, Halloween day. Never fear, the Barkeep is here, and while I won’t protect you from spiritual hauntings or the Frankenstein-level hangover you’ll boast post celebration, I will let you in on my picks for the best soirées of All Saints’ Eve (and the weekend prior, because… work). So, gear up for freaky, y’all.
I’m a huge proponent of the Bizarre Bazaar, as I’ve shared before, and there’s no better time to check out Louisville’s circus collective than on Halloween. Drag kings and queens, clowns, burlesque and boylesque dancers, fire artists and sideshow critters will welcome you to not one, but two Halloween shows for their third annual show. On Saturday, The MAMMOTH (744 S. 13th St.) hosts spectacular performances, blood wrestling, bobbing for Sangria apples (yes, please!), a haunted “Baby Jungle” (I don’t know what that means, but I have a feeling dolls are involved), Jack-O-Lantern carving and more. Then, on Halloween night, get your second dose of debauchery at Zanzabar, where “Louisville’s queer, loud and punk circus collective returns,” said cofounder, Camila Jasis-Wallace. Come costume-clad to win prizes and be prepared for a bloody good time.
A quintessential party of Louisville summer returns for one night only during the season of gore, and you can relive all your American Turners pool party memories at Odeon on Saturday at the Coat Check Freak for All. Freaky deaky entertainment includes music by Sam Sneed, McKinley Moore, DJ Slim Thicc and Axel Roley and psychic readings by former film star, Pamela Lynn McMasters. Costumes are encouraged, and if you’ve been to a Coat Check event, you know folks will be going all out. If you don’t know… now you know.
Speaking of spooky, my gal pal, Jess, is a professional photographer who used a historic property (owned by a friend) to take photos of a client in a beautiful claw foot bathtub. During the photo shoot, this home, built in 1796, seemed to be inhabited by more than just Jess and her model. The historic Linden Hill home is said to be the oldest home in the Butchertown Neighborhood, and, legend has it, that a blood feud between two families came to fruition when one family, The Langenkamps, descended on the estate of the Pleasances and slaughtered the entire family, save for one little boy. For the Butchertown Haunt on Saturday, you can begin your evening with drinks at Butchertown Social, jump on a hayride through Butchertown and get dropped off at the Linden Hill home gate. B-Sosh suggests a $5 donation to the Everything Will Be OK Project, a local organization working to normalize the topic of mental health through broad-appeal event production.
The inaugural Black Magick Festival takes place this weekend, a music and arts fest dedicated to uplifting the voices and talents of African-Americans and other marginalized folks. There will be live entertainment, food and booze to make for magic all weekend, but beginning Friday, you can attend the stellar kickoff event I’ve been ogling — the Hocus Pocus Black Magick Costume Ball at Copper & Kings Distillery. Music by DJ Alli, Halloween-inspired light bites and a cash bar will accompany a costume contest and, of course, dancing. Just $10 gets you the goods, or you can purchase a weekend pass and attend what seems to be some stellar Black Magick Festival events through Sunday. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Sweet Evening Breeze LGBTQ Youth Shelter, and you can’t beat that. Supporting events curated by people of color, women and femmes and the LGBTQ community should be a priority for all of us. Why not roll that support into a costume ball that is sure to be LIT? Sign me up — let’s get freaky. Cheers!