I used to be really into Halloween to the point of planning my costume well in advance. That meant taking out the sewing machine and actually making something to wear. Maybe because in those days I had somewhere to go and show off.
This may be hard to believe, but Halloween has always been a big deal in DC. My mom has stories about people dressing up and down to walk along U Street. In the late 70s, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was playing at a small movie theater in Georgetown. Georgetown is still the scene for the rambunctious young adult trick or treater. I didn’t do Georgetown. I saved it for a small town campus.
I did trick or treat up until age 8 or until we moved to a new neighborhood where we knew no one. This photo of one of my childhood friends was taken at the White House Halloween party thrown by President Richard Nixon in 1969. Tricia Nixon acted as hostess camping it up with “Dark Shadows” star Jonathan Frid who played the vampire hero Barnabas Collins. “Dark Shadows” was a 60s horror flick inspired soap opera on NBC. It ran for 5 years. Who’da thought?
Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush threw Halloween parties during their presidencies.
The White House Historical Association has an on-line exhibit in the spirit of Halloween: “Ghosts and Hosts of the White House at Halloween” [Note: The WHHA is a private non-profit organization]
At this point it’s unclear if the Obamas will host a White House Halloween party after such a long hiatus and with so many other items on the “To Do” list. We’ve seen more than enough masks and costumes Photoshopped on the President during the summer courtesy of the loyal opposition.
In a sermon I heard this Sunday, the Rev. Jackie Lewis, senior minister of Middle Collegiate Church in NYC, described a wacky faction of the American Christian community that is playing Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” speech backwards in anticipation of hearing his declaration of being the anti-Christ.
If they knew anything, they would know, any audio played backwards says “Paul Is Dead.” In fact last week was the 40th anniversary of the infamous Beatles rumor.
Years ago, in an effort to put a more Christian spin on Halloween, there was an introduction of “Holy-ween.” The twist was to come dressed as bible characters vs. witches, ghosts, vampires, and Satan. The irony was, among bible characters, one could make a strong case for Satan to be at the Holy-ween party.
The origins of Halloween, steeped in pagan traditions, seem to walk side-by-side with the holy and spirit life. It’s the night the two worlds – living and dead — are supposed to collide. If you bump into someone you knew, ask for a lottery number.
Here are some opportunities to get into the spirit at least in DC:
THE ANNUAL DC DRAG QUEEN RACE
I have to admit, this was a lot more fun when it wasn’t legal (meaning permits, corporate sponsors, and the Mayor showing up) and word of mouth brought out the crowds. The race has been a tradition of the LGBTQ community though most of the contestants are men. The Drag Races are the Tuesday before Halloween (October 27). The street is blocked off at 6 PM – gotta get there early because it’s packed. Race begins at 9 PM. Gather on 17th Street between P and S Streets near Dupont Circle.
There are two street dances to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” soundtrack and music video. The original dance was choreographed by Michael Peters. I had to put that out there because he’s been so neglected over the past months since MJ’s death. Peters, who choreographed “Thriller,” “Beat It” and other movies, music videos and Broadway shows, died from complications due to AIDS in 1994.
This Saturday, October 24, Thrill the World DC will start rehearsing Thriller at 11 AM on Freedom Plaza (Downtown, Pennsylvania Ave.). The real dancing will start at 8:30 PM. Will they beat Mexico’s record for the most people dancing with Michael Jackson’s Thriller simultaneously? We’ll see. The event is also a fundraiser for Paralyzed American Veterans and Spinal Cord Research Foundation. Find out more here.
Friday, October 30 Joy of Motion is doing a “Thriller on H Street” from 7 – 9 PM
There’s a fee: $20 for adults (18 and up); $10 for ages 8 and up. No zombie rate. The fee includes a workshop rehearsal. Then the dancing begins at 9:30 in front of the Atlas Performing Arts Center. You have to pre-register. Go to Joy of Motion’s website here. It costs nothing to watch.
HOWARD UNIVERSITY HOMECOMING
Don’t read too much into this as a Halloween thread, but hey, it’s on the same day as the Thrill the World DC Dance. Howard is known to have one of the best Homecoming celebrations in the country. People actually travel to DC for this. The parade, big game and step show are Saturday, October 24. Good luck getting tickets. More information here.
Me? I’m making a caramel layer cake, and I’ve got tickets for the 2 week run of the Michael Jackson rehearsal doc “This Is It” for October 31st. I’m feeling the spirt.