With Halloween coming up in a few days, the costuming frenzy, which began at least a month ago, is reaching its fever pitch. I’ve been getting emails from different vendors with Halloween discounts and sales almost every day, and there are Spirit Halloween stores almost everywhere I go.
I grew up in the Philippines where Halloween was not celebrated, at least at the time, and the only images I had about Halloween were gleaned from Hollywood movies. The most memorable of which was the scene from E.T. where E.T. dressed up as a ghost to go trick or treating.
Halloween seemed like a lot of fun, but I was already an adult when I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1987. So before I got into costuming and involved in the local costuming communities in 2003, I didn’t get to wear costumes much.
Now that I wear costumes to events at least once a week, Halloween doesn’t hold the same allure for me as it used to. My main dilemma every year is: do I costume or not on the actual day.
Halloween doesn’t always fall on the weekend, and Autumn weather is very unpredictable. I don’t want to get caught wearing something like a Pocahontas costume one year and it was freezing cold. Another year, I wore an Arwen (from The Lord of the Rings) costume—a full-length, long-sleeved velvet gown—and I was too warm while I accompanied my sister and her son to go trick-or-treating.
Then there is the issue of where does an adult go on Halloween in costume? I’m sure there are bars and clubs that one can go to. But as a costumer, these are not usually the places I frequent. Most of these venues cater to patrons who purchase their costumes at Halloween stores, such as Spirit. I don’t want to sound elitist, but most of these store-bought costumes are cheaply made and are made of cheap materials. Also, most of the costumes for women are sexy versions of historical, scifi, fantasy, horror, anime, etc. characters. I don’t necessarily object to wearing alluring costumes, I do that myself, but when I start seeing sexy female representations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I shake my head in disbelief and know that things have gone too far.
Also, one Halloween not too long ago, I went to a house party and I wore my Boomer/Athena costume (which is basically military gear) from the new Battlestar Galactica. No one knew what character I was portraying and all the other women were wearing cute and skimpy outfits. I felt rather out of place.
I acknowledge and understand that store-bought costumes have their place and most people do enjoy dressing up once a year and live out their fantasy. I don’t begrudge them their fun. Also, there are some higher-end costumes at brick-and-mortar and online stores that I have purchased myself. They also have good accessories such as stockings, necklaces, goggles and the like.
In the past, I’ve had a lot more fun at Halloween parties thrown by fellow costumers. My friend Cordelia used to hold a party on Halloween and we’d all dress up in our favorite scifi or fantasy characters. Another friend Joan holds a party for her costumer friends and she decorates her entire house, inside and out, with the most amazing decorations, which are mostly by Studio 54. At these parties, you’d see a variety of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Tim Burton, and other costumes made by the wearers or commissioned for themselves. So if you’re a costumer, I would recommend going to these types of parties or go ahead and throw one yourself! They’re a lot of fun.
This year, I’m going to a friend’s Harry Potter-themed costume party on Friday, October 28, which makes it easy as I already have a Cho Chang costume. On Saturday, October 29, I’m going to a costume party sponsored by one my fiancé’s anime friends. I’m wearing a pink Disney Princess gown that was worn in a Disney music video for that one. On Sunday, October 30, a good friend of mine is getting married with the theme of Sleepy Hollow by Tim Burton. He’s going to be Johnny Depp, of course.
So what am I doing on Halloween itself? It’s on a Monday so I may just give costuming a rest on that day, which is pretty much what I’ve done on most Halloweens these past few years.
For those who do want to costume on Halloween itself, I recommend the Bohemian Ball organized by Friday Night Waltz at the Berkeley City Club. This is an elegant but eclectic event where you can wear any historical and even fantasy costumes.
However, the fun does not end there. There are a lot of costume organizations in the Bay Area that do Halloween-type events after Halloween. Debbie Lynn’s Costumes and the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild (of which I’m a member) are putting on a Victorian Haunted Halloween House on November 4 and 5 at the Rengstorff House in Mountain View. My fiancé Chris and I will be among the volunteer actors in Victorian costumes who will be entertaining the guests. The event is called Halloween Never Ends. Also, the Period Events and Entertainments Re-creation Society (of which I’m one of the volunteer organizers) will be holding its annual Le Bal Des Vampires on November 12 at the Elks Lodge in Alameda.
Happy Halloween and happy costuming to everyone! And always remember that the first goal of costuming is to have fun.